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United We Stand

Today we stand united for Puerto Rico. Not divided, lest we fall. Holding hands and helping each other, our neighbors, our families, the new friends, the old friends, the people we know, the people we don't know. There is no space for division if we want to rebuild. Let’s not lose focus or waste our time on divisive politics or on blaming each other. We, the 3.5 million American citizens in Puerto Rico, do not have time for that.

The words "United we stand, divided we fall " symbolize so much of the American Spirit, but its origins date back to the 6th century from the Greek philosopher Aesop and his fables. This oral tradition was the inspiration for the American founding father John Dickinson's famous Liberty Song published for the first time in the Boston Gazette in July 1768.

 Here are some of its most poignant verses:

                Then join hand in hand brave Americans all,

                By uniting we stand, by dividing we fall;

                In so righteous a cause let us hope to succeed,

                For Heaven approves of each generous deed.

We can’t afford to waste a second. Yes, we are suffering here and rhetoric is not going to heal the pain, deliver containers or distribute food and medicine.  We need the local Government working hand by hand with the Federal Government, the community, the local leaders, the rescue workers and the military. So let’s stop the finger-pointing and the blaming. Let’s not get distracted with the unimportant issues.

This American territory -that was handed over from Spain to the United States in 1898 at the end of the Spanish American War and the signature of the Treaty of Paris- needs both immediate help and a huge infusion of public and private capital to rebuild a devastated infrastructure. 

On September 2Oth the world we once knew disappeared, and we woke up to the ravages of María's destruction.  Houses crumbled, roads disappeared, entire towns were flooded by rivers and mudslides isolated parts of our interior.  No power, no water, no communication. We stood alone with each other with tears in our eyes and scars in our hands; and scared, yes, scared of what we had just experienced.  We held hands and opened roads with whatever we could find.  We walked miles to find our mothers, our families, our friends, our neighbors.  We sheltered the homeless in our homes.  We discovered new friends and rediscovered old ones. We walked to work and said “We are here to help!  Use me! Give me something to do.”

Thirteen days have passed since María left us naked and in pain, with anew reality and facing the desolation of a destruction without mercy. Puerto Rico was poor before María.  Today it is in shambles.  The pictures and stories you read are true.  We wait in lines eleven hours just to buy ice in order to keep the medicine of our neighbors cold, lines to get gas to go to work, lines to find fuel for the generator, lines to take food to shelters. No, we are not standing still, but we do need help!

We have decided that united we will stand. We have decided to be grateful for the help we can get or we can give. We have decided to unite and walk the long walk toward reconstruction together. This is who we are.  The people of Puerto Rico are standing up and working hard to make every hour count. We don't have room for divisive politics in our new reality. The price is too high.

When you go through this kind of devastation and come out alive, you realize there is a chance to start again and learn from your mistakes and rebuild a new self; but divided we can’t and alone we can’t either.

We welcome the visits of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, Senator Marco Rubio and other members of Congress and we welcome the duties of Generals Jeffrey S. Buchanan and Richard Kim. And we welcome President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.  You need to see with your own eyes the devastation and desperation.  

Mr. President, it is extremely important that Puerto Rico be included in the federal Government’s plan to rebuild the American infrastructure. 

We have no time to waste.  If we want to go far, united we stand.

María Luisa Ferré Rangel

Publisher GFR Media

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