Driving around San Juan is always quite the experience. There are so many things to do and so many lovely things to see. After all, part of San Juan is Old San Juan, one of Puerto Rico’s loveliest towns. But not everything that’s bright, shines. And this is just the case with this colorful city.
San Juan is the capital of Puerto Rico and it’s rather grandiose. It’s so large that there are many towns within it. However, the city of San Juan is not as glamorous as many would paint it out to be. You’d think that the mayor of San Juan, one of Trump’s archnemeses, Carmen Yulín Cruz, would be more concerned about this.
Mayor Carmen Yulín is someone who has continuously bellowed her love for Puerto Rico and her city. At the beginning, her passion was almost admirable. Here we have a woman who made sure her cries for her island and its people were heard. She seemed to have a plan and people were quick to hold her up to the sky. And who could forget her public defiance towards Donald Trump? She was doing what many yearned to do in their faintest dreams. It seemed as though we had found the right poster woman for Puerto Rico and the world was actually invested in it, not just the locals. She presented herself as Pro-Puerto Rico as possible and we believed it.
But let me swiftly walk you through San Juan’s current state. Two years after Mayor Yulín became relevant to the world, her city doesn’t seem to mirror her original ideals.
Since San Juan is often a tourist location, most people won’t try to worry themselves with what’s wrong around the city. But if you spend a few days roaming the city, you’ll be able to notice all the loose pieces that are barely holding up San Juan.
Let’s start with the streets. Even if you’re someone who is visiting for only a few days, you’ll be able to notice how uneven the roads in San Juan are. During your drive, you’ll find how common it is to encounter several potholes, so it becomes almost a sport trying to avoid them. You’ll see how many buildings look vandalized and neglected to their core. You’ll also see how many traffic lights are not functioning at all and how there’s a lack of working street lights. This is something that should’ve been a priority from the beginning considering how these things make up the core of the city’s safety.
This gets deeper as you start talking to the San Juan locals. You’ll notice that many of them are concerned with the blatant disregard the city has for the things that should benefit everyone. For instance, I spoke to a business owner, who chose to remain anonymous, about their constant fight with the city.
They have been trying to get some licenses approved for their business for months, but nothing has been done. Not even a credible update has been provided.
“I don’t know how much longer we can hold off. We need these permits to bring in new things and do things the right way,” they fearfully expressed in regards to the lack of response from the San Juan department that oversees their business needs.
This has left this person feeling helpless because they know that their profit could increase if these permits and licenses are approved. They even said that other business owners oftentimes go ahead with their plans without getting their permits and licenses approved. Though they don’t engage in those behaviors, they understand why people may feel the need to do those things. Many business owners in San Juan just wish Mayor Yulín would regulate all the departments necessary that need to oversee the needs of everyone in the city. Sadly, this doesn’t seem to be happening anytime soon, which may cause some people to close their businesses, file for bankruptcy, and even starve.
Once your eyes are finally naked enough to see the reality, you’ll be able to view these scenes with more ease. Of course, Old San Juan is kept almost intact, but the surrounding towns don’t get this same treatment. There’s no way to hide it either. It stares right at you without lifting its penetrating gaze away from you.
By this point, you should be wondering what in the world is Mayor Yulín doing?
Well, it seems that a lot of her focus at the moment is to campaign for Bernie Sanders. Her Twitter account is filled with her evident endorsement for Sanders as she somehow made herself one of the faces for the Latino vote. Look, I don’t find anything wrong in this, but you’d think her focus would be more at home, not overseas.
It just doesn’t make sense in the scope of everything that has transpired. She started out by fervently marching with the ideals of the political party she abruptly chose, PPD, and decided to embody all it entailed. For those who are new to this, PPD is the political party that wants to continue as a Commonwealth of the United States, but with the ability to self-govern. In other words, they want to have their cake and to eat it too, but that’s another story. I will say that it was a mind-boggling decision on her part to run for PPD, considering she had always claimed loyalty to PIP or the “independistas” prior to her decision. However, according to Yulín , her motives were based on winning and restructuring Puerto Rico. She was willing to do this even if it meant she had betrayed the party she had followed most of her life. Even then, people were willing to follow her because she had views that could potentially help Puerto Rico. Or so it seemed.
Some locals say that they feel part of the reason Yulín hasn’t helped them out in an adequate manner is because she has depleted her funding. But it seems as though she depleted it in menial things that only benefited her personal gain. Some also say that the reason why she’s so headstrong on Sanders’ campaign and in matters that concern the United States is due to the fact that she might want to fulfill a career in the mainland.
Of course, she has done some things. For example, she fixed up a public park quite nicely. She also recognizes Puerto Rican victories, which is always appreciated. But San Juanians would love to see that same effort implemented on other parts of the city.
As for now, Puerto Ricans are left with the daunting decision on who to choose as governor in these upcoming elections. Many stepped forward, including Mayor Yulín , but it doesn’t seem like she will make the cut. In fact, she is not even leading the primary polls for her political party at the moment. Instead, it’s Eduardo Bhatia who has been overshadowing her in recent polls. There really doesn’t seem to be much campaigning on her part, either. It’s honestly a shame because so many people were rooting for her. But it doesn’t seem like many are even understanding her motives any longer.
At the end of the day, we need to understand that the recent surge of women in Puerto Rico politics doesn’t excuse them from being ineffective. It was great to see Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz rise, but it just doesn’t seem as though she has Puerto Rico’s best interest. Hopefully, she can prove many wrong and come atop once again. After all, we should never want to see anyone fail.