ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN) – State Representative Daisy Morales visited Puerto Rico this week in an effort to learn firsthand what the needs of the Puerto Rican people are.
Rep. Morales told Florida National News this two-week visit is intended to strengthen the alliance between the Puerto Rican government and Florida’s government, as well as communicate the people’s needs to their family members here on the mainland, inspiring them to use their right to vote.
Rep. Morales met with Puerto Rican lawmakers to learn what policies are important to them so that she can bring those ideas back to Florida and garner state and federal support for them. She spoke with Puerto Rican Senators Carmelo Javier Rios and Jose Luis Dalmau Santiago, along with their colleagues.
After being elected November 2020 as a member of the Florida House of Representatives, Rep. Morales became the highest ranking Puerto Rican woman elected official in Florida, representing Florida House District 48 in Orange County.
Orange County ranks second nationally with an estimated 209,151 Puerto Ricans, behind The Bronx, which has 268,556 residents of Puerto Rican origin in 2018, according to the census. “Within Orange County, District 48 has a large Puerto Rican population, so it’s important to strengthen my office’s relationship with the governing bodies in Puerto Rico, its businesses, organizations and families,” Rep. Morales told Florida National News during a phone interview.
Rep. Morales took action when the influx first began in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. She travelled to Tallahassee to push for disaster relief from then governor Rick Scott’s administration.
Since Hurricane Maria, more than 400,000 people have relocated to Florida, many who have family members back home in Puerto Rico who need assistance.
Rep Morales shared that Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration (PRFAA) Regional Office is located in District 48. “I’ve worked closely with the Regional Director Anthony Carrillo to create a resource pipeline between Central Florida and Puerto Rico.”
Deeply Rooted in Puerto Rico
Rep. Morales has deep roots in Puerto Rico. Though she was born in the Bronx, Rep. Morales’s parents took her back to the island when she was a child and raised her there. She also attended college on the island, receiving an associates degree. Much of her family lives there.
One of Puerto Rico’s most recent shining moments came during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, with Jasmin Camacho-Quinn making history as Puerto Rico’s first-ever gold medalist in athletics after winning the women’s 100-meter hurdles finals. Even a week after the Olympics are over, Puerto Ricans continue to celebrate, and eagerly await her arrival. “I felt such a sense of pride when she won,” said Rep. Morales. “She’s a great example of perseverance, especially after her heartbreak in Rio. She’s a true comeback kid.
“What makes it so surreal is that she chose to train for the Tokyo Olympics here in the Orlando area,” Rep. Morales added.
Puerto Rico: The Aftermath
Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated the entire island of Puerto Rico over three years ago. Unfortunately, the hurricanes’ effects were worsened with the earthquakes that followed, which caused even greater damage to the island’s land and energy infrastructure. Now the island is also battling the COVID-19 pandemic, which has put a huge strain on its health care system. This week, Rep. Morales got to witness those struggles with her own eyes.
After Hurricane Maria, Congress had allocated approximately $42.5 billion in federal funds for the island´s recovery. Three years later, much of the funds have been delayed, including Community Development Block Grants for Disaster Relief (CDBG-DR) that were made available.
Three Congressional members represent parts of Rep. Morales’ district: U.S. Representatives Val Demings, Stephanie Murphy, and Darren Soto.
“Our fellow American citizens need help, and I’m here to help amplify their voice in any way I can,” Rep. Morales told Florida National News. “I’ll continue fighting for all Puerto Ricans on the island and the constituents who now call Central Florida home.”
Mellissa Thomas is Editor for Florida National News. | firstname.lastname@example.org