On Friday, February 5, Governor Pedro Pierluisi of Puerto Rico made clear that his declaration of a state of emergency against gender violence was inclusive of LGBQ people. More than a week after his initial order, Pierluisi got into details of his executive decision.
In an interview on Good Morning America, the governor said, “It’s been too long, this pattern of male chauvinism-related violence, femicides, homophobic and transphobic violence. We want to promote diversity, respect each other.”
estén protegidos, si tienen una orden de protección, por las agencias de ley y orden, tanto federales, estatales y municipales. (2/2)https://t.co/8mFs9E5rLc
— Pedro R. Pierluisi (@pedropierluisi) February 6, 2021
Puerto Rico is seeing a massive uptick in deadly gender violence. According to the island’s Gender Equity Observatory, in 2020 alone, some 60 women were murdered on the island of just over 3 million inhabitants, although authorities officially recognized only eight cases as femicides.
It was not until Angie Noemi González, a 29-year-old nurse, was found strangled two weeks ago in a ravine in Puerto Rico that the government decided to take action.
According to the BBC, for years, dozens of feminist groups, politicians, and music personalities have been calling for the island to take action against a phenomenon that has made it the place in the world with the highest number of women murdered by their partners in the past, according to a report by the American Civil Liberties Union.
A report published in 2019 by Proyecto Matria and another feminist group traced dozens of cases of femicide that had not been considered as such by the authorities and arrived at the estimate that, on average, a woman is murdered every week on the island.
However, gender violence does not only affect Puerto Rican women.
According to a spokesperson for Puerto Rico’s Comité Amplio para la Búsqueda de Equidad (CABE), transgender people are often the victims of doubled violence, frequent stigmatization, and discrimination on the island.
“We have a radical fundamentalist religious sector that continues with the discourse that trans people are against God’s laws, and that has an influence on the way they are seen,” she told the BBC.
According to a 2020 Human Rights Campaign report, the island experienced the largest wave of violence against the LGBTQ community in the last ten years, including seven transgender people, considered by activists as hate crimes.
After Pierluisi’s interview, the founder of the Puerto Rico Para Tod@s, Pedro Julio Serrano, said, “Governor Pedro Pierluisi yesterday during an interview with a U.S. media outlet made an emphatic defense of LGBTTIQ+ people by including them in his declaration of a state of emergency over gender violence. We appreciate this expressed and unequivocal inclusion.”
Pierluisi specified his government’s need and will to equally protect women and trans people.
The national emergency declaration aims to allocate more resources to get a hold on gender-based violence in the commonwealth island, appoint a special government representative on the issue, and create new programs to get more women into the labor market.
On February 7, Pierluisi said, “For too long, vulnerable victims have suffered the consequences of systematic machismo, inequality, discrimination, lack of education, lack of guidance and, above all, lack of lack of action.”
However, only time will tell whether belated strategies will be enough to fight an epidemic that has been undermining the island’s social structure for decades.