puerto rico has been one of the more aggressive covid lockdown locations in the US. we have been under constant curfew since last march and they just cranked it back down again (to 10PM from midnight) and are now forcing all businesses to close by 9pm because “covid is on the rise.”
leaving aside the absurdity of this policy which will have no epidemiological effect at all apart from making sure we all have to eat dinner at the same time and thus making it more, not less crowded, it’s stunningly dishonest for 3 reasons:
there is no rise. cases are up a little, but it’s because testing is up A LOT likely due to mandated travel tests for spring breakers (and kids going back to school). just about no one has it, no one here knows anyone who has it, and the hospitals are empty (i live near one and know several docs that work there). you can see the massive testing spike in the data from the NYT tracer here:
the schools are now closing again. since they went back to class just a week and a half before easter break and again this week, they have been required to test 5% of the kids daily and have been doing so. this is the other reason testing is up so much. having spoken to folks at a local private school, no one knows of any kids coming back positive. (and if they had, they’d have been pulled out of class) yet now because testing is up because kids went back to school, kids get yanked out of school because. if this sounds senseless and like an inescapable trap, well it is. but it seems likely these kids are just caught in a crossfire that is not of their making or even relevant to them.
pretty much everyone here knows this is not about covid. the covid issue is a complete ruse. the real issue is tourists and i know this for an absolute fact because the staff of the politicians making these choices have told me so. i’m not guessing. this is first hand. “we are having problems with the same kind of tourists that are causing problems in miami.” about 2 weeks ago, they locked parts of san juan down like it was a military occupation. i recently saw 80 cops on an 8 block walk. (literally, i am not exaggerating here) they mill around, some in tac gear and formed up in squads with mobile command centers and severely bad attitudes. they’re hyper-aggressive and intrusive. it’s like something out of “handmaid’s tale.” and it SUCKS. but it has zero to do with covid and everything to do with folks here getting the vapors about lewd, aggressive tourists.
now, to be clear, it has been a weird tourist season and the tourists this year have not looked or acted like the tourists in any other year i (or anyone else i know) has ever seen. rooms are cheap and airfares are cheap. this has brought in an influx of “different” tourists. these tourists happen to be predominantly black. i’m not ascribing the behavior issues to racism or race, but i am going to ascribe the response to it so i just want to get this simple fact on the record because no one else seems willing to say it out loud.
a few weeks back, signs like this started appearing around town:
this was in response to large groups of visitors that apparently come from neighborhoods where “cardi b” outfits are seen as “barbara bush conservative.” there has been a lot of loud partying, scanty dress, flat out nudity, and a level of fights, noise, twerking, blocking traffic, and size 3 bikinis on size 22 gals unlike anything i’ve seen. puerto rico is still a largely catholic island and still has largely catholic sensibilities. (i do not, but seem to be in a minority hereabouts) this crashed headlong into them and people went crazy. it was easy to walk down the main drag and see peeing in doorways and women dancing topless out the tops of rented jeeps while blocking traffic. there were brawls in hotels, in restaurants, and at the airport. and people here were simply not having it.
so they went wild and called the mayor and the governor. they, in turn, unleased this crazy police response and flooded town with state cops with bad attitudes. this has made the place a misery. it’s 20X worse than any tourist invasion could ever be. the tourists do not make me feel unsafe. these rabid cops looking to “impose order” do.
and, just like miami, because these “problem tourists” happen to be black, no one can call the problem by its name. if we had a bunch of hillbilly or british hooligan tourists acting this same way, you can bet your bottom dollar that the problem would be called “bad tourist behavior” but because all our leadership is terrified of being called “racist” it gets called “covid” instead. this is just one more twisted offshoot of “woke” and the soft bigotry of low expectations and censored dialogue. no one is allowed to speak the truth so we make up explanations to pretend the issues are different than they really are and “covid” is convenient.
but this fake response to a misidentified issue has real costs. it hurts those of us that live here. it hurts the hospitality industry, the bars, the restaurants, and the uber drivers. it’s bouncing the kids back out of school. it’s like using napalm to get rid of termites in your house. and it’s not even clear it has worked or will work. it certainly will have zero effect on covid. it’s just perluisi and romero being abject cowards and reactionary authoritarians. they are firing on their own people to try to repel some “invader” because they are too timid to call things by their real names.
it is not racist to say “these tourists are misbehaving and we need to crack down on them.” it’s racist not to do so because those tourists happen to be black and it’s cowardly not to do so because you fear being called racist for applying standards evenly. we’ve had lots of great black tourists in PR and i hope we get a great many more. but many in the current crop seem to fit poorly with local law and social mores. if the government here is determined to do something about it, then they should at least be honest. this false flag to impose curfew serves no one. it’s hurting those who live here and it’s hurting our kids who have had 2.5 weeks of in person instruction in the last 12 months. this is not leadership, it’s the abrogation of it. we voted you guys in to do better than carmen and wanda, not to follow in their footsteps and pile oppressive policing on top of it.
do better. we WILL remember this come election time and the narrow margins on which you won are not going to hold up for you. this is not what you promised. this is cowardice and mendacity.