Don't underestimate "esa señora"


When San Juan mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz ran for office in 2012, the longtime incumbent dismissed her during the campaign as nothing more than "esa señora." But "that woman" had already enjoyed a successful stateside corporate career, worked as a mayoral adviser when she moved back to the island in 1992, and served in Puerto Rico's House of Reps starting in 2008. 

In a news conference last Friday, she took the President to task for his and the
 federal government's disaster tepid relief response, and then Twitter happened. Of course. 

Her left-wing politics in the Popular Democratic Party help explain Cruz' fearlessness toward the Trump administration, which has contrasted more diplomatic messaging from the Puerto Rican governor and other officials. [Vox has an excellent primer on Hurricane Maria + Puerto Rico, btw.]

Meanwhile, the White House
tempertantrump against Cruz also spotlights the deeper, unnatural disasters wrought by colonialism. Ever since 1898 and despite a history of militant activism, Puerto Rico remains a U.S. commonwealth, and residents enjoy a hodge-podge of limited rights as American citizens. But even though Puerto Rican statehood polls favorably, the 51st American state probably isn't going to happen anytime soon.

Mayor Cruz, however, favors full sovereignty vs. statehood, a platform that directs counters the White House's America-first grandstanding. “The issue of eradicating colonialism is extremely important, not only for us as a country that’s going through very hard times, but for the US which has been a beacon of freedom around the world, or at least has portrayed itself as that,” Cruz told The Guardian in June.“You don’t fight injustice by asking to become part of the system that committed the injustice against you in the first place. That’s like a freed slave striving to become a slave owner.”

As Puerto Rican Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor famously said: "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life."

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