30 Mar Carmen Yulin Cruz – Fire in the Storm
Carmen Yulín Cruz has never shied away from a fight. Puerto Rico’s fiery mayor first staked her claim on the national stage when she challenged the federal government’s abominable response to Hurricane Maria back in 2017.
Cruz confronts opponents head on, settling any doubts about where she stands, whether decrying the murder of a transgender woman, stumping for presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, or declaring her candidacy for governor of Puerto Rico.
Wearing a t-shirt that proclaimed “¡Sin Miedo!” which means ‘Without Fear’ in Spanish, Cruz announced her run for governor on the Puerto Rican holiday that commemorates the end of slavery.
“We have to break away from the chains that tie us down in order to have a promising future and break our cycle of poverty,” she said in Spanish.
Cruz won respect for her assessment of the situation on the ground during Puerto Rico’s humanitarian crisis which she projected through the prism of life and death.
“This is personal. The president came and threw paper towels at us,” she said in a television interview. “He continues to disregard the pain of people from Puerto Rico.”
When Trump remarked that Cruz had gotten marching orders from the Democrats to be nasty to him, the mayor clapped back, “Maybe he’s used to women who have to be told what to do. That’s not who we are here in San Juan,”
Born and raised in San Juan, the charismatic 57-year-old began her leadership trajectory in high school. An academic star, she also ran track and was president of the student council. She graduated magna cum laude from Boston University and earned a master’s degree from Carnegie Mellon. After stints at Scotiabank and the U.S. Treasury Department, she returned to Puerto Rico in 1992.
Still working for the recovery of San Juan and Puerto Rico, her brand of public service is not just amplifying her voice for the people but with the people.