Carmen Yulín Cruz
|Carmen Yulín Cruz|
|Mayor of San Juan|
Assumed office |
January 14, 2013
|Preceded by||Jorge Santini|
|Member of the Puerto Rico House of Representatives|
January 2, 2009 – January 1, 2013
Carmen Yulín Cruz Soto|
February 25, 1963
San Juan, Puerto Rico, U.S.
|Political party||Popular Democratic|
Boston University (BA)|
Carnegie Mellon University (MS)
Early years and studiesEdit
Carmen Yulín Cruz Soto was born on February 25, 1963, in San Juan to Carmen Irene Soto Molina from Lares and Pedro Cruz Vega. She has a brother named Pedro José Cruz. Cruz inherited the second part of her given name, Yulín, from her paternal grandmother, Lutgarda Vega. She graduated with honors from Julio Sellés Solá Elementary School and attended University of Puerto Rico Secondary School where she was president of the student council as well as a representative at a presidential youth summit.
Cruz earned her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Boston University on May 30, 1984, graduating Cum Laude. She completed a Master of Science in Public Management and Policy at the Heinz College at Carnegie Mellon University on May 12, 1986, where she became the first student to receive the Spirit Award (now called the Barbara Jenkins Award), given to a graduating student for service and contributions to the college and region.
First years in politicsEdit
Eight years later, Cruz ran again for the Puerto Rico House of Representatives, this time for an islandwide at-large seat, at the 2008 elections, after nomination in the PDP primaries. After being elected, Cruz became the PDP's Ranking Member on the Women Affairs Committee. Due to the high population of Dominican immigrants in the subdivisions of San Juan, most notably in Santurce, Cruz became involved with the Dominican American National Roundtable as a supporter.
Upon launching her re-election campaign in 2011, she became the first candidate from her party to collect the required endorsements, presenting more than the 4,000 total within the time frame required to complete only 2,000. At the Popular Democratic Party primaries in 2012, Cruz led all of the candidates to the House of Representatives in votes, followed by fellow soberanista (sovereigntist) Luis Vega Ramos. On the original result, she had 217,162 votes counted, which surpassed the incumbent House of Representatives President Jennifer González, with a reported 216,087 in the NPP[clarification needed] primaries.
2012: Candidate for San Juan's mayorshipEdit
Cruz Soto began hinting at her interest in running for the mayorship of her native city of San Juan in early 2011, but decided to step down when opposed by the conservadores, led by Popular Democratic Party president Alejandro García Padilla, who named the second in-command of that wing, representative Héctor Ferrer, to occupy the position. However, her name resurfaced following the resignation of Ferrer, who was forced to abandon the race due to a domestic abuse incident which led to a formal investigation.
Although Cruz initially denied that she was running for mayor of San Juan, on March 26, 2012, she announced her decision to accept the party's petition and challenge incumbent mayor Jorge Santini. In the media fallout that followed, Cruz was favored over Santini throughout the social networks, Facebook and Twitter, as reported by a specialist in media marketing. Likewise, she was favored in unofficial polls held by mainstream publications El Nuevo Día (64% of 1,940 votes) and Primera Hora (120,041 vs. 34,588 or 77.3%).
On March 28, 2012, Cruz was promoted to the position of PDP Minority Whip in the House of Representatives. Two days later, the PDP's San Juan Municipal Committee ratified her as their new president. In contrast to the majority of the candidates for any mayorship, she has expressed not believing in the "perpetuation of office", noting that eight years should be enough to fulfill a development plan, if executed correctly. On May 4, 2012, she attended a Service Employees International Union conference and held a meeting with Jim Messina, campaign director for Barack Obama, to discuss health care and education funds, citing that "it is important to take stances in US politics, since half of all Puerto Ricans live there". During this visit, Cruz also negotiated the establishment of a Chicago-San Juan alliance with the Puerto Rican community there, led by congressman Luis Gutierrez. Carmen Yulín has also expressed full support for LGBTT and women's rights.
2013–present: Mayor of San JuanEdit
Cruz was elected as the next Mayor of San Juan on November 6, 2012, defeating three term-incumbent Mayor Jorge Santini in the city's 2012 mayoral election. She became the third woman to hold San Juan's mayoral office, after Felisa Rincón de Gautier and Sila Calderón.
Cruz's administration continues her predecessor Jorge Santini's plans for the revitalization of the Río Piedras district. The first phase of this plan consisted of the restoration of historic buildings in the subdivision. An economic plan spearheaded by José Rivera-Santana promoted incentives for housing and establishment of new businesses in Río Piedras, in an attempt to salvage the economic importance that the district once had. This was complemented with direct communication and collaboration with the local community and several institutions, including the University of Puerto Rico. Among the initiatives to revitalize the municipal economy, Cruz proposed the absolute elimination of the 7% sales tax (IVU) in Río Piedras for a period of four years. This would be the first time that any zone would receive such an exemption, giving small and local businesses a strategic edge over "big box" corporations.
In September 2017, in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Cruz made frequent appearances on national and international television, criticizing Federal aid efforts for not getting the aid shipments into the hands of the people who need them, accusing Donald Trump and his administration of "killing us with inefficiency", and giving pleas for help in numerous media interviews.
At a September 29 press conference Cruz said:
"We are dying here and I cannot fathom the thought that the greatest nation in the world cannot figure out logistics for a small island of 100 miles by 35 miles long... People are drinking off a creek. So I am done being polite. I am done being politically correct. I am mad as hell... So I am asking the members of the press, to send a mayday call all over the world. We are dying here... And if it doesn't stop, and if we don't get the food and the water into people's hands, what we are going to see is something close to a genocide".
Speaking on Fox News, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) director Brock Long responded to Cruz's remarks saying that unity of command was the main thing needed for the relief effort to be successful, and suggested the mayor needed to go to the joint field office and "get plugged in". Angel Perez Otero, mayor of Guaynabo, a neighboring city to San Juan, stated that his experience with that agency had been very good and criticized Cruz for not participating in meetings with them and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Responding to her statements, President Trump tweeted, "The mayor of San Juan, who was very complimentary only a few days ago, has now been told by Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump. Such poor leadership ability by the mayor of San Juan and others in Puerto Rico who are not able to get their workers to help."
Many legislators responded to Cruz's comments and the Trump tweets. Speaking on CNN, Rep. Al Green said that he saw undertones of racism in the President's remarks. "If they were all Anglos, I don't believe the President would have the attitude that he has, because you don't hear that kind of dog whistle, of people not wanting to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, when the people are Anglos. That's something reserved for people of color." In tweets Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand called Trump's remarks "offensive" and Sen. Ed Markey said that the President needed to apologize to the people of Puerto Rico, saying, ""The definition of 'poor leadership' is sitting at your golf club while millions of US citizens beg for your help, @realDonaldTrump," Sen. Elizabeth Warren said Puerto Rico was in "crisis" and Trump should "stop playing politics with their lives." Rep. Don Beyer writing the President "focused on aid efforts in TX & FL but ignored Puerto Rico. Now you attack San Juan's mayor for saying 'people are dying.' THEY ARE DYING."
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Cruz has received numerous recognitions and awards, including the Martin Luther King Centre Justice, Peace and Freedom Award and Humanitarian Leadership Award in 2018, the Antonio Villaraigosa Leadership Award in 2018, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation Humanitarian Award 2017, and the Puerto Rico Arts Alliance Felisa Rincón Legacy Public Service Award. She was also nominated by People en Español as one of the 50 most Powerful Women in 2017, and TIME Magazine chose her as candidate for Person of the Year recognition in 2017. This year, she was on the TIME Magazine list of the 100 most Influential People in the World, received the prestigious Ridenhour Truth-Telling Award, as well as Casa de Esperanza’s Award for Inspirational leadership, the Hank Aaron Champion of Justice Award, and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s Award for Economic Justice, and she was also in ESSENCE Magazine’s Woke 100 Women list as well.
Possible future plansEdit
Cruz is expected to run for governor in the 2020 elections. Such a bid would pit her as the sovereigntist, left-of-center alternative to centrist PDP President Héctor Ferrer for the party's gubernatorial nomination.
Cruz gained national prominence due to her impassioned appeals on television for help after Hurricane Maria and the fact that President Trump engaged directly with her in a Twitter duel. As a result, she was nominated as a candidate for Time's Person of the Year. She was parodied by NBC's Saturday Night Live and appeared as a guest on Stephen Colbert's Late Show.
Cruz married psychologist and University of Sacred Heart professor Alfredo Carrasquillo on September 25, 2010, three months after their relationship started. They divorced a year later, but remarried in 2013 and divorced in 2017. Cruz has a daughter, Marina Yulín Paul Cruz, from a previous marriage.
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