The Puerto Rico Research Hub of the University of Central Florida and the Center for Puerto Rican Studies of the Hunter College of New York held a summit in Orlando to define needed research on the Puerto Rican population in Florida.
The summit, “In Pursuit of Puerto Rican Studies,” had the goal of identifying research opportunities that can lead to positive social change.
Florida went from a population of 480,000 Puerto Ricans in 2000 to more than 1.2 million in 2017, according to Fernando Rivera, Director of the Puerto Rico Research Hub. “One out of every five Latinos in Florida is Puerto Rican,” Rivera says. The newcomers are young, averaging 34 years, and women outnumber men. 56% report that they speak English well.
Edwin Meléndez, Director of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College in New York, says that this group is of special interest to political candidates. Florida is traditionally a swing state, and the new Puerto Rican population has the potential to affect outcomes in upcoming elections.
Florida’s legislators will make efforts to represent their new Puerto Rican population, and Florida may be the center of discussion on disaster aid..
Melendez believes that the “diaspora” — Puerto Ricans and their descendants living in the States — will have a vital role in the economic recovery of Puerto Rico.
His presentation at the summit reported on a project in progress which maps socioeconomic and population data on Puerto Ricans in Florida. It has been difficult to uncover accurate data about the movement of population to and within Florida since Hurricane Maria..
El Nuevo Dia reports that Anthony Suárez, former President of the Puerto Rican Bar Association in Orlando, emphasized the question of Puerto Rico’s political status. “Until the problem of the status of the island is resolved, Puerto Ricans will continue to come here to seek representation because they do not have it on the island,” he said. “And this is what I am going to do: I want to organize something nationally, throughout the United States, so that Puerto Rico stops being a colony.”