When the Puerto Rico delegation stepped up to the mic at the DNC earlier this week, it felt like a refreshing dose of positive energy and national pride in the midst of an increasingly frustrating election cycle. But behind the effusive flag-waving, J. Lo references, and political statements that characterized the island’s vote, there were 67 delegates dealing in different ways with the island’s dire economic situation.
The Philadelphia Inquirer recently brought to light the struggle of Puerto Rico’s delegates with a profile on Gendy Tchuda, one of 23 delegates from the island voting for Bernie Sanders at the convention. A recent graduate of the University of Puerto Rico – Río Piedras, Tchuda hasn’t been able to find work since she received her diploma in May of last year, and tight economic circumstances led her to open a GoFundMe in order to cover DNC-related expenses.
In addition to roundtrip airfare, Tchuda had to cover $200-per-night hotel expenses and any miscellaneous costs related to the trip. When she was ultimately unable to afford a return flight, the 25-year-old decided her best bet was sticking around the Northeast and looking for work stateside. “There’s no jobs in Puerto Rico right now,” she told the Inquirer. “If I can get an opportunity, I would stay here.”
Like so many other young Boricuas reeling from the island’s economic crisis, Tchuda has been living at home as she looks for work, but feels her extended unemployment is putting a growing burden on her mother. With a background in Political Science and International Relations, Tchuda will be staying with a friend in New York while she looks for work in a related field.
While Tchuda’s story is especially heartbreaking, the Bayamón native is not alone amongst the island’s delegates. The Inquirer piece also featured interviews with delegates who have been forced to bounce between jobs, or simply watch as contracts dried up for their small businesses.
At the very least Puerto Rico’s delegation can rest easy knowing the for the first time ever, the Democratic Party has included language on Puerto Rico in their platform. Although not all the delegates felt their voices were heard in that process.