In visit to Pittsburgh, San Juan mayor says time at CMU shaped philosophy
San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz Soto arrived in Pittsburgh this week eager to spread the message that the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico is prospering and needs to be more self-supporting.
“Puerto Rico is a thriving island nation that is a bridge among two cultures, Latin culture and the American culture,” Cruz told the Tribune-Review in an interview before a speech at Carnegie Mellon University's Heinz College, where she earned a master's degree in 1986. “Times have changed. We need to be more self-sufficient, in terms of our economic development, so that we are allowed to explore different venues of different alliances with different countries.”
Cruz, 51, plans to spend three days in the city and will participate in a meeting on Wednesday of the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. She plans to attend a City Council meeting. It is her first visit to the city since she lived in Squirrel Hill, Shadyside and Bethel Park from 1984 to 1992. Upon graduating from Carnegie Mellon, she worked in human resources for Westinghouse Electric Co.
Puerto Rico, an island of about 4 million people, is in dire financial shape, with municipal debt of $70 billion. The economic revival of the island's capital is a priority for Cruz, a member of the Popular Democratic Party, which supports remaining a commonwealth of the United States. Under that status, Puerto Rico is subject to U.S. laws, though residents are exempt from some federal taxes.
Cruz does not favor statehood, but she acknowledged that much of Puerto Rico's development emerged from its relationship with the United States, which has to be “recognized and respected.”
“(Statehood) wouldn't be beneficial because eventually you would lose your cultural distinction,” she said. “A relationship with the United States is important. How we manage that relationship is what has to be tempered to the times.”
Statehood would lead to federal contributions, but would mean too much dependence on the government, making it a “passport to a welfare environment,” Cruz said.
“It is only through that financial independence that you are able to stay on course with your own vision,” she said. “If your vision on public policy depends on where the money comes from, your vision is going to change when that bank does not have any more funds.”
Cruz became San Juan's mayor in January 2013, the third woman to hold the office. She said her education at Carnegie Mellon shaped a philosophy that helped her succeed as a public servant. She is working with university officials to establish a summer internship program in Puerto Rico for Heinz College graduates.
“The opportunity she's talking about is perfect for students looking to work in city government. I can't imagine having a better mentor and a better experience,” said Brenda Peyser, associate dean of the School of Public Policy and Management.
Cruz doesn't worry that the weak economy has prompted many young professionals to leave the island for the U.S. mainland.
“We are exporting good professionals that show the world what we are all about,” she said. “The idea is, how do we get them to still maintain interest and to still contribute.”
Luis Fábregas is Trib Total Media's medical editor. He can be reached at 412-320-7998 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Blawnox couple jailed in woman’s alleged abuse of boyfriend’s child
- Penn Hills water main break creates car-swallowing sinkhole
- Mt. Lebanon awaits Pennsylvania Game Commission approval to corral, kill deer
- Aging weather satellite may be leaving forecasters with a large blind spot
- Pittsburgh to consider measure to give city employees 6 weeks of paid parental leave
- Pipelines key to growth in shale industry
- Pittsburgh City Council unanimous in opposition to bill that would change how Pa. defines tax-exempt status
- Owner of Italian Village Pizza stores in Western Pennsylvania gets house arrest for tax evasion
- NTSB: Better oversight needed to prevent natural gas pipeline accidents
- 3-D images to help police in Western Pa. navigate terror, hostage scenes
- Man arrested in massive Homestead fire