PUERTO RICO

Poet Martín Espada won a 2021 National Book Award for the collection "Floaters."
David Gonzalez / Courtesy David Gonzalez

The poet Martín Espada describes the 2021 National Book Award for his poem collection “Floaters” as an extraordinary megaphone to recognize the people he writes about.

Mayor Joshua Garcia of Holyoke, Massachusetts, acknowledges the crowd as he arrives for his swearing-in ceremony on Nov. 15, 2021.
Kevin Gutting / Daily Hampshire Gazette / gazettenet.com

Less than two weeks after Election Day, Joshua Garcia was sworn in as mayor of Holyoke, Massachusetts. He’ll finish out the term of former Mayor Alex Morse, before beginning a full term in January.

Joshua Garcia and Michael Sullivan are running for mayor of Holyoke, Massachusetts. If Garcia were to win, he would be the city's first Puerto Rican mayor in the city's history.
File photos / Daily Hampshire Gazette / gazettenet.com

For the first time in a decade, residents of Holyoke, Massachusetts, will pick a new mayor this Election Day. The race is between former business owner and City Councilor Michael Sullivan and Joshua Garcia, a veteran of municipal government who is currently the town administrator in Blandford, Massachusetts.

Jonathan Soto left Puerto Rico in 2017 after Hurricane Maria and arrived in Holyoke, Massachusetts, not knowing much about the city's deep Puerto Rican roots.
Jill Kaufman / NEPM

Four years ago this week, high school teacher Jonathan Soto left Puerto Rico and made his way to Holyoke, Massachusetts. He was among the thousands of Puerto Ricans who evacuated from the island after the devastation of Hurricane Maria.

Holyoke, Massachusetts, residents marked the fourth anniversary of Hurricane Maria on September 20, 2021.
Jill Kaufman / NEPM

Four years ago, Hurricane Maria led to the deaths of 3,000 people in Puerto Rico. In Holyoke, where about half the residents identify as Puerto Rican, a welcome mat was put out.

On Monday night, a small group gathered downtown to mark the somber day.

A lengthy handwritten message was found at the end of June, taped to two political campaign signs in Holyoke, Mass. The writer casts blame on the "minorities" of Holyoke for the city's blight and a decades-long economic downturn.
Submitted photo / Garcia Campaign

A pair of political campaign signs on a Holyoke, Massachusetts, street were recently defaced with racist comments. The signs belonged to  Joshua Garcia and Israel Rivera, who are running in separate municipal races in the November election.

Massachusetts Lawmakers, Cities Help Lead Puerto Rico Self-Determination Push

Apr 16, 2021
Hoang 'Leon' Nguyen / The Republican / MassLive.com

Puerto Rican leaders and their allies, like U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley, voiced support this week for federal legislation that would allow the island territory to decide its future status as a state or something else, and urged state and local governments to join them.

In past years, hundreds showed up for the Three Kings Day celebrations at Blessed Sacrament Church in Springfield, Massachusetts. Because of COVID-19, Grisel Delgado and her daughter are producing a scaled-back event.
Courtesy / Grisel's Privare Dance School for the Performing Arts

Many Christians celebrate Epiphany on January 6, also known as Three Kings Day. In Puerto Rico, it’s an official holiday and for Puerto Ricans living in western Massachusetts, the community celebrations are usually huge, but not in the era of COVID-19.

The Puerto Rican Day Parade, on Main Street on Springfield, Masachusetts.
File photo / Hoang 'Leon' Nguyen / The Republican / masslive.com

The City Council in Springfield, Massachusetts, this week unanimously approved a resolution in support of a proposed federal act giving Puerto Ricans a voice in the fate of their island.

Angelle Lopez before the graduation car parade at Springfield Central High School.
Courtesy of Angelle Lopez / Courtesy of Angelle Lopez

For Angelle Lopez, graduating from Springfield Central High School and moving onto college is a very big deal. 

U.S. Airmen with the Puerto Rico Air National Guard offer support to those affected by recent earthquakes in Puerto Rico.
U.S. Air National Guard

As Puerto Rico continues to experience a series of earthquakes and aftershocks, a western Massachusetts nonprofit is working to bring much-needed items to the island. 

Weeks after a powerful earthquake and dozens of aftershocks rocked Puerto Rico, citizens whose homes were damaged or destroyed by the quakes will be granted access to some financial relief, officials announced on Thursday.

President Trump "declared that a major disaster exists" in the southern regions of Puerto Rico and "ordered Federal assistance to supplement Commonwealth and local recovery efforts," the White House said in a statement.

Connecticut’s Department of Education said it’s ready to help school districts take in Puerto Rican students evacuated from the island because of recent earthquakes.

Updated at 4:20 p.m. ET

People across southern Puerto Rico awoke to find broken brick walls and felled power lines Tuesday, after a 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck before dawn. The major temblor hit a coastal stretch near the communities of Ponce and Guanica at about 4:24 a.m. local time, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Updated at 2:05 a.m. ET

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló announced his resignation amid a scandal over sexist, homophobic and otherwise offensive text messages he and his inner circle exchanged. The leaked texts set off mass demonstrations and widespread calls for his departure.

"I was willing to face any challenge, fully understanding that I would prevail against any accusation or process," Rosselló, a Democrat who was elected in 2016, said late Wednesday.

For almost two weeks now, Puerto Ricans have taken to the streets of San Juan to call for the resignation of Governor Ricardo Rossello. He was already a controversial figure in the wake of Hurricane Maria, but a recent leak of private messages sent between members of his administration has sparked a massive response that’s now reaching far beyond the island.

Every Tuesday at the Villa Victoria housing development in the South End, volunteers dole out big bundles of food to poor neighbors at $2 a bag. But these days it’s not the food that’s at the top of people’s minds — it’s the political crisis unfolding at breakneck speed in their native Puerto Rico.

Miguelina de Jesus is originally from Rio Grande, Puerto Rico. The 83-year-old matriarch of four generations at Villa Victoria, she says she never attended a protest before local Boricuas started organizing demonstrations in front of Boston City Hall.

Manuel Sastre can't even believe what's about to happen. He's hot, he's covered in sweat, and he's about to walk out of this Hartford, Conn., liquor store with two six packs of ice cold Medalla Light. It's been way too long.

"Eighteen years," Sastre tells me. "I haven't been in Puerto Rico in 18 years."

But now?

Sastre says it's like "I'm back on my island."

With White House Visit, Red Sox Can't Avoid Politics

May 9, 2019

In January 1963, when the Celtics visited the White House, it wasn’t for some big celebratory ceremony. The reigning NBA champions went for a tour.

Connecticut lawmakers want Congress to send more disaster relief dollars to Puerto Rico.

Dance and music inspired by Puerto Rican culture.
Charlie Billups / Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/titoytitabillups

 

Dan Román began composing as a young teenager growing up in Puerto Rico. He doesn't know why he started, exactly — just that simply playing instruments wasn't enough.

A new federal report says Connecticut experienced one of the largest year-to-year percentage increases in homelessness. But state officials and advocates say Hurricane Maria had a major impact on those numbers.

Researchers in Puerto Rico say hurricanes Irma and María made long-lasting and ongoing impacts to forest and coastal ecosystems.

Pablo Delano's "The Museum of the Old Colony" is a sort of mock museum, made up of 20th-century photos and captions from Puerto Rico.
Jill Kaufman / NEPR

Many of the photos in Pablo Delano's exhibit at Hampshire College are more than 100 years old. 

In the outskirts of San Juan, far from the gleaming towers downtown, there’s a makeshift car wash on the side of the road. Young men spray down a beaming black Acura — a starkly clean machine in a neighborhood struggling to return to normality a year after Hurricane Maria.

This car wash didn’t exist before the storm. It’s one of many realities people on the island describe as “before Maria” or “after Maria.”

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Candido Reyes and Luz María Muñiz found love late in life — she in her 50s, he in his 60s — but at least they had found what some people never find. He told her he loved her more than God, and he believed it to the point that he apologized for it in his prayers.

Vigils will be held Thursday in Hartford and Bridgeport to mark one year since Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico.

Evacuees from Puerto Rico gather in Springfield, Massachusetts, on Thursday, April 19, 2018, facing a housing crisis.
Greg Saulmon / The Republican / MassLive.com/photos

A Massachusetts federal judge has granted a reprieve for refugees from Puerto Rico staying in local hotels since Hurricane Maria last year. 

Advocates for families relocated from Puerto Rico want the Federal Emergency Management Agency to come up with a longer-term solution for Transitional Shelter Assistance for Hurricane Maria evacuees.

Nine months after Hurricane Maria devastated the island of Puerto Rico, there are an estimated 300 families still living in hotels in Massachusetts with FEMA and the state footing the bill.

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