While the federal agency struggles to survive amidst the pandemic without help from the President, Puerto Ricans show its essential role in their lives.
President Donald Trump has never had kind words to say about the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). His attack on the federal agency, which includes threats of shutting it down, has increased viciously as the presidential election gets closer. But for many Puerto Ricans, the USPS isn’t just a means of communication. It’s a lifeline.
Boricuas recently shared on social media that the USPS is their only way of receiving medication, sending valuable packages to Puerto Rico from the mainland, and making sure veterans are not alone.
As Trump’s tweets against the USPS rage on, Democrat lawmakers have called for an investigation into Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s staff changes and cost-cutting measures, which will most likely result in mail delays come Election Day.
DeJoy is a top GOP fundraiser and businessman who has given millions of dollars to the Republican Party, including the Trump campaign.
A simple question from Bernie Sanders
Boricuas have taken to Twitter to defend the USPS, many of them responding to a question poised on Monday by Vermont Senator and former presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders to his 10.1 million followers: “What does the Postal Service mean for you and your community?“
The connection between the USPS, Boricuas, and veterans is powerful. Not only is the mail service a way of connecting the millions of Puerto Ricans who live on the island with those in the mainland. But many of them are veterans who work for the USPS.
There are about 330,000 Puerto Rican veterans, according to NBC News, while the USPS as whole employs an estimated 113,000 veterans and is a leading employer of minorities, with six-in-ten of the agency’s employees being non-Hispanic white. From the services side, veterans also depend on the mail for receiving their benefits and medicines.
Boricua Spanish teacher @ms_melendez89 responded to Sanders’ tweet saying, “USPS means my father gets his meds from the VA (because it’s an affordable way to get them.) USPS means my grandmother in Puerto Rico can still spoil her oldest granddaughter by ensuring she receives this (mask) to prepare for the school year.”
Others, like D.C. food writer Jessica van Drop, pointed to the fact that small businesses like hers depend on the USPS to deliver their products.
The impact of the slowdown and the election ahead
On April 9, facing the economic slowdown of the pandemic, the Postal Service asked for $75 billion in emergency funding. Back then, the former House Oversight and Reform Committee, Postmaster General Megan Brennan, said the USPS would be broke by October if they didn’t get funding. Democrats asked for a one-time $25 billion check for the USPS through the CARES Act, but Trump rejected it.
As the financial woes continue to pile on the USPS, Puerto Ricans see the recent election mess and the shortage of paper ballots on the island a foreshadowing things to come.
“So part of this #Primarias2020 mess had to do with legislation that got rid of veteran @ceedepuertorico officials, just like @realDonaldTrump is doing at @USPS before Election Day,” Latino Rebels founder and journalist Julio Ricardo Varela tweeted. “Don’t be ‘surprised’ that what happened on #PuertoRico on Sunday will happen in the US in November.”