Gov. Ricardo Rossello – Building a Stronger and Better Puerto Rico Post-Maria | The Daily Show


My first guest tonight is
the governor of Puerto Rico, which is struggling to rebuild after Hurricane Maria devastated
the island seven months ago. Please welcome
Governor Ricardo Rosselló. (cheers and applause) Thank you. Governor,
Puerto Rico’s story is one that’s touched
the hearts of many. We’ve had people
like Ricky Martin come on the show
and talk about it, Lin-Manuel talking to people,
getting them to understand that there is an issue,
there is a crisis. Could you help us understand why it feels like
it’s taken so long for the crisis to be fixed? Wh-What has gone wrong
in Puerto Rico? Well, first of all, thank you
for keeping Puerto Rico in the hearts and minds
of all Americans. I think this show
has given a step forward so that, you know, once
the cameras left the disaster, it sort of slows down, but really,
it’s been bureaucracy. Bureaucracy has been
slowing down the process, even though there’s some people
doing a lot of good. We’ve been able to get
some funding for Puerto Rico. But the process is slow,
and as you know, we’re heading to
hurricane season next month, so we really need to hurry up
that process again. When you say bureaucracy,
do you mean bureaucracy within Puerto Rico,
or do you mean bureaucracy that comes down
from the United States? Well, bureaucracy in Puerto Rico we’re taking, uh,
we’re dealing with it, right? We’re eliminating it,
we’re cutting the red tape. But it’s within the systems that have been placed
in the United States. For example,
some of these processes that take ten to 14 days
in any other state, -would take 117 days
in Puerto Rico. -Wow. -Reimbursements…
-This is to get funding? And-and working? Yes, for the reimbursement
for the permanent work. It still hasn’t even started
in Puerto Rico, the reimbursement
for the permanent work. So all we’re asking– and I know
you’ve made a point of this– is to be treated equally
as equal U.S. citizens. You know,
we’re proud U.S. citizens. And what we want– That’s right. (cheers and applause) And, uh, there’s good will, but we really need
to tackle this, this issue, so any support that we can get,
it’s important. And that’s why
we started a movement to organize Puerto Ricans. You know, we’re 5.6 million
strong in the United States. -Right.
-And Puerto Ricans, because we live in a territory,
in a colonial territory, we don’t have the right to vote
for the president or for congressmen or senators. So we need to create
sort of a proxy effort. And right now, we’re in Florida. That’s one
of the critical areas, but we’re gonna go
to different states making sure that we organize
a structure such that, you know, if you’re
a friend to Puerto Rico, and if you, uh, vote, and help the policy
that’s in the best interest of Puerto Rico
and Puerto Ricans, we’ll support you,
but if you go against the people of Puerto Rico, then, uh,
we’ll vote you out. Now, that brings up
two questions for me. Firstly, I know
that in Puerto Rico, it’s always been
a contentious issue -whether or not Puerto Rico
should become a state -Yes. of the United States. -You have been for statehood.
-Yes. Do you think that’s in the
best interests of Puerto Rico? I certainly do.
I think, you know, when you evaluate all
of the alternatives, the first one is the current
colonial status. -We’ve seen the results.
-Right. It just hasn’t worked. And as an American citizen,
you have to wonder: Do we really want
a second-class citizenship to be part
of the American ideal? Do we really want
to be known for having the most populated colonial
territory in the world? I think not,
so the other alternatives are either independence
and statehood. And I certainly feel
that our people are very proud
of their U.S. citizenship. More than 95%
of the people support our U.S. citizenship,
and it’s in the best interests. And I think we a lot of value
to offer, you know. As we go through this disaster– and it’s been…
and it’s been a rough ride– uh, you know, I see Puerto Rico
as sort of a-a blank canvas -to reinvent,
to, uh, be innovative. -Mm-hmm. You know,
a lot of the things that-that… A lot of the ideas in education,
in health care, in infrastructure
that are being thrown around, we can implement those
in Puerto Rico. So I sort of want
to start making the pivot from the recovery
to the rebuilding and to being very innovative and inviting all of you
to come to Puerto Rico. You know,
we’re-we’re open for business. We’re open to receive everybody. -Right. -The weather’s
much better than right here, -uh, in New York,
that’s for sure. -(laughs) So, uh, we would be excited
to have everybody that has something,
some new idea, something to look for
to come to Puerto Rico. Y-You have said that you’re
now going to be mobilizing Puerto Ricans in the U.S. And in the wake of the crisis
in Puerto Rico, I know that there was an influx
of Puerto Ricans into Florida, for instance. Um, this may be something
that now reshapes the midterms and even
the presidential election. Uh, you’ve had some critics,
the likes of Marco Rubio, who have said, “Now’s not
the time for politics. “Now is the time to focus on getting Puerto Rico ready
for the next hurricane season.” How do you respond
to that criticism? Well, the reason is that we’ve heard happy talk
all our lives, right? And the hurricane
was the perfect example. We had all of these congressmen,
congresswomen, and senators come to Puerto Rico,
stand in podiums, pledge their support
looking at the cameras and saying,
“We will help Puerto Rico “through and throughout, uh,
-Right. throughout this crisis.” And they’ve helped
in some arenas, but the first piece
of legislation that they had was the tax reform bill. Now, you might have
your opinions if it’s good in general
or bad in general, but for Puerto Rico, it treats us
as a foreign country and thereby levies
an additional base erosion tax on Puerto Rico,
which makes it more expensive -to do business in Puerto Rico.
-Wow. So as we’re going through
the worst natural disaster in the modern history
of the United States, uh, we are victims of a policy– and we talked about this– that essentially railroads
Puerto Rico in this front. So my view is very simple,
and my answer is very simple. These are political processes. Uh, in order for us
to have some power and some accountability, we need to let all
of the elected officials know that there will be Puerto Ricans
and friends of Puerto Ricans in… all over
the United States. Uh, long-term view
is to organize them. Right now
is to impact several states, and hopefully,
if we get that done, then we can get
some real results -for Puerto Rico.
-Right. Before I let you go,
there was a report that came out in Politico,
which was… which was really frightening. It was about
how the U.S. government wants to implement
a pilot program with regards to funding. And so, you’ll correct me
if I’m wrong, but if I understand
the breakdown, it would basically
allow Puerto Rico to skip the red tape. The U.S. government
would give Puerto Rico the money that it needs, but with that, if any over… if any overruns were incurred, Puerto Rico
would now be responsible. You would have to pay
for any extra costs that you didn’t anticipate. That seems like they’re
putting a gun to your head, ’cause they’re saying,
“You do it this way, or you do it no way.” Does it feel
like you’re in a position where you’re in power
but not really? It’s almost taxation
without representation? Well, it is taxation
without represen… It is being
a colonial territory. And, I mean,
it’s not something modern. This has been going on
for 500 years, and 100 years
in the United States. I mean, we really need
to ask ourselves a question when we’re talking about
immigration reform and so forth and when we’re talking about
the value of our citizenship. If, uh… Do we really want… Are we really happy
with a nation having 3.5 million
of its citizens not having the same rights? And it’s very bizarre, too. I mean, if I move to the States, I gain all of those rights. If, Trevor, you move
to Puerto Rico, you lose them. It-it really, uh,
makes no sense. With-with regards
to these policies, you know, it could work. It could be a very good program, -’cause it gets us out
of the red tape now. -Right. There need to be a certain set
of-of core principles. We’ve agreed upon executing
those core principles. I ask everybody, uh, to give
oversight and accountability over-over this process. And if we do get that, then we’ll have resources,
uh, to rebuild. And, again, I-I see Puerto Rico
as this, uh, blank canvas to start rebuilding
as a destination for what we’re calling
the human cloud, where, you know, many jobs
in the future, as you know, -are gonna be geographic
independent. -Right, right. Come to Puerto Rico. We have a better quality of… Uh, we can offer
a better quality of life, and we can export
those services elsewhere. We can be a connector
of-of the Americas, uh, and start, um,
pushing through in areas, important areas to us,
like education and health care, uh, so that’s
a great place to live. So even though it’s-it’s, um…
it’s been a rough go at it– and I can’t believe
it’s been seven-seven months, uh, since the hurricane. I-I was just remembering
as it was yesterday when I had to go, uh… Two days after the storm, there
was a big flooding incident. And 2,000 people
were in the rooftops. And, uh, as we were going, I went with the National Guard. We started picking up,
uh, some of these folks. You know,
some people started calling, and-and, uh, somebody, uh,
send a text message to pick up, uh, this girl
that I had never… that I had never seen
called Amarilis. So, we were just going,
as it was raining and pouring, in these amphibious,
uh, automobiles, looking for all
of these families that at… were at their…
at their rooftops. And, finally, believe it or not, uh, amongst those, uh,
2,000 families, we-we found her,
uh, praying with, uh, three-three young daughters. -Wow.
-And, uh… and, thankfully, we were able to-to impact that. But now it’s-it’s been
a long road ahead. And what I ask is for everybody
to keep on, uh, you know,
giving us their support. Uh, the people of Puerto Rico
are very resilient, and we’ll demonstrate
with hard effort and, uh, uh,
with accountability that we will rebuild
a stronger, better Puerto Rico. Well, thank you for your time.
I tell you this, we will, um… (applause) We will make sure
to keep supporting. We’ll keep telling you
how you can support Puerto Rico. We thank you for your time,
and, uh, most importantly, Trump will keep throwing
paper towels. Governor Ricardo Rosselló,
everybody.

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