Outside of the Puerto Rico Capitol Building, there are nine statues of presidents that have visited Puerto Rico while in office. These people include, but are not limited to, Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Gerald Ford, and Barack Obama. However, there is one president who has visited the small island and not received the exuberant treatment granted to the others: President Trump.
President Trump visited the ravaged Carribean territory on October 3rd, 2017 after it was devastated by Hurricane Maria, a Category 4 storm, which made landfall on September 20th. During his trip, he met with Governor Ricardo Rossello, surveyed the immense amount of damage, and took part in a part in a food and supply distribution.
After almost two years since the devastation, a statue of President Trump is still absent from the other statues that make up the “Walkway of the Presidents,” which has become a popular tourist destination since its founding in 2010. Despite the lack of action by the Puerto Rican government, citizens are now starting to crowdfund for the construction of the statue.
The College Republican Federation of Puerto Rico has started an initiative called, “Build 45!” Started in late February, the group began a fundraiser on the popular crowdfunding site, “GoFundMe,” to build the statue of President Trump in the likes of the other already outside the Capitol Building in San Juan.
According to the GoFundMe, the reason the statue hasn’t been built is due to the “insolvency of the territorial government, which has been under federal fiscal
supervision since 2016.” This supervision has been caused by the towering financial crisis that has its origins dating all the way back to 1917 due to the Jones-Shafroth Act, which exempted Puerto Rican municipal bonds from local, state, and federal taxation. While the bonds did keep the Puerto Rican budget balanced for some time, the interest payments quickly caught up with them and has led to over $74 billion in unpaid interest. Furthermore, it doesn’t help that about sixty percent of the island’s residents are on government-run healthcare, whether it is Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, or through the military.
The GoFundMe continues to say that, “Expenses for non-essential public services and works projects have been curtailed, and the current Puerto Rico Legislative Assembly’s lack of action to both commission and put in place the pending statue commemorating President Trump’s October 3, 2017 visit to Puerto Rico has been blamed on this reality.”
In an interview with the Daily Caller, Melvin Soto Vazquez, the vice president of the College Republican Federation of Puerto Rico, defended President Trump’s actions towards Puerto Rico saying, “President Trump has been more than generous with Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.” He then backs this statement by pointing to the $9.9 billion in FEMA funding the island received in the first six months after the horrific destruction that was left from the hurricane. The President also signed a $19 billion recovery package for Puerto Rico earlier this month.
Currently, the GoFundMe has raised about $10,000 of its $45,000 goal.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.