Monday, May 17, 2021

The Sato Project


The Sato Project is dedicated to rescuing abused and abandoned dogs in Puerto Rico

the Sato Project Celebrating 10 Years

Our Mission

The Sato Project is dedicated to rescuing abused and abandoned dogs from Puerto Rico. There are currently an estimated 500,000 stray dogs roaming the island’s streets and beaches. With no access to food, fresh water, or veterinary care, many of these dogs are living daily lives of severe suffering. The municipal shelter system is drastically overwhelmed, with only five shelters across all 78 of the island’s municipalities. These shelters have a combined euthanasia rate of over 94%. For thousands of stray and abandoned dogs across Puerto Rico, we are their only hope.

What We Do

The Sato Project is determined to end this suffering. Our small but mighty team works around the clock to save as many lives as possible. We address the underlying causes of and solutions for Puerto Rico’s stray dog crisis through six primary programs:

  1. Rescue and Rehabilitation
  2. Freedom Flights to the Mainland
  3. Spay/Neuter Community Outreach
  4. Adoption & Shelter Placement
  5. Disaster Relief
  6. Education & Awareness

The Sato Project primarily works in the municipality of Yabucoa, on the southeastern coast of the island, which has been rated the poorest of all 78 Puerto Rican municipalities. The median household income is well below the national average and over half of its population lives below the federal poverty line. Yabucao is also where Hurricane Maria first made landfall in 2017 and caused the most severe devastation.

Since our founding, we have concentrated our rescue efforts on a place known as Dead Dog Beach, a notorious dumping ground for abused and abandoned dogs. Our Founder and President, Chrissy Beckles, started rescuing one dog at a time from this beach until she officially founded The Sato Project in 2011. Thanks to 10 years of our rescue and community outreach work, Dead Dog Beach has been almost entirely cleared of dogs, allowing us to expand our efforts into the wider Yabucoa community and diversify our programs to address the underlying causes of the island’s stray dog epidemic. Since 2011, we have rescued more than 5,500 dogs from the streets and beaches of Puerto Rico and flown them to new lives on the mainland. We have also spayed/neutered more than 7,000 dogs and cats through our spay/neuter community outreach programs.

Puerto Rico has gone through a lot of changes since 2011, including deadly Hurricane Maria and Hurricane Irma in 2017, political unrest in 2019, and the devastating earthquakes at the beginning of 2020 followed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Sato Project continues to evolve our efforts to meet the needs of ever-changing circumstances. However, through it all, our primary goal has always stayed the same: to save as many lives as possible and end Puerto Rico’s stray dog crisis once and for all.

The Sato Project is making permanent change in Puerto Rico. We encourage you to join us. Learn more about our life-saving efforts by clicking on any of our program links above or watching this video below produced by CNN in 2015.

Doggie Rescues - How to Adopt, adoption Procedure and Application

How to Help

Volunteer -  The Sato Project runs almost entirely on the passion and dedication of our many wonderful volunteers. Are you interested in joining our team?
Donate - The Sato Project depends entirely on charitable donations to rescue, rehabilitate, and find loving homes for abused and abandoned dogs in Puerto Rico. The Sato Project is a 501(c)3 organization, and gifts are fully tax-deductible.

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Thursday, May 13, 2021

Luis Muñoz Marín

Luis Muñoz Marín (1898 – 1980) was a Puerto Rican journalist, politician, and prominent figure in creating ties between the United States and Puerto Rico. He was the founder of the Popular Democratic Party, president of the Puerto Rican Senate, and the first democratically elected governor of Puerto Rico. During his regime, Puerto Rico saw political and economic reform, mass migration, and suppression of independence ideals.

José Luis Alberto Muñoz Marín was born February 18, 1898 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. A few months after his birth, Puerto Rico was taken by the United States because of the Spanish-American War on October 18, 1898. He was the son of Luis Muñoz Rivera and Amalia Marín Castilla. His father was a Puerto Rican poet, journalist, and Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico. Muñoz Rivera was involved in the creation of the Jones Act while also fighting for autonomy for Puerto Rico.

Due to his father's political involvement, Muñoz Marín’s childhood was dived between the United States and the island. His education was in English due to his upbringing and the colonial stipulation in Puerto Rico. He was enrolled briefly at Georgetown University Law Center by his father, but Muñoz Marín aspired to be a poet. After his father died in 1916, he became the secretary of Félix Córdova Dávila, the Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico at the time. However, he left the position to pursue journalism in New York, where he lived a Bohemian lifestyle.

In 1926, Muñoz Marín returned to Puerto Rico to edit La Democracia, the newspaper his father had founded in 1890. The following years were filled with unrest as Muñoz Marín traveled back and forth between the countries that saw him grow up.

The 1930s is the decade that Muñoz Marín cemented his decision to continue his father’s footsteps and start his political career. He joined the Liberal Party of Puerto Rico, a pro-independence political party, and was elected to the Puerto Rican Senate in 1932. His political ideology began as one campaigning for independence from the United States, which brought friction within the party and culminated in his expulsion. In 1938, he founded his party, the Popular Democratic Party. The following decade would see Muñoz Marín presiding the Senate until 1948, a crucial time that changed his pro-independence stance to one of American cooperation.

As a senator, Muñoz Marín established one of his most recognized legacies for economic reform in Puerto Rico. Operation Bootstrap (Operación Manos a la Obra) reformed agriculture in Puerto Rico and advanced industrialization. It promoted the creation of manufacturing plants on the island through tax exemption and cheap labor. Even though it increased the living standards on the island, the rapid industrialization saw a mass migration to the United States because of the volatile climate in the job industry. It also brought coerced sterilization programs by the United States to combat the perceived overpopulation problem in Puerto Rico. La Operación or The Operation was a set of policies by the United States that imposed sterilization practices in Puerto Rican women during the 1950s and 1960s to reduce the birthrate.

During this time, the Ley de la Mordaza was also established. Presided by Muñoz Marín and signed by the then US-appointed governor Jesús T. Piñero, Law 53 or the Gag Law, was passed in 1948. It prohibited owning or displaying a Puerto Rican flag (even in the home), it was a crime to speak against the U.S. government or to speak in favor of Puerto Rican independence. The purpose was to suppress the rising independence movement in Puerto Rico at the time. Nationalist, Pedro Albizu Campos was one of many to fight against this law. The Gag Law would be repealed in 1957 for being unconstitutional and going against freedom of speech.

In 1948, the United States Congress granted Puerto Rico the right to elect its governor, making Luis Muñoz Marín the first democratically elected governor of Puerto Rico. During Muñoz Marín’s political regime, Puerto Rico passed from being a U.S. territory to a commonwealth. On June 8, 1950, the United States authorized Puerto Rico to draft its constitution in 1951, thus creating the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. On July 25, 1952, the Estado Libre Asociado was established, and the government under Muñoz Marín's regime began promoting cultural events to combat the possible Americanization of the island.

After being elected consecutively for four terms, from 1949 to 1965, Muñoz Marín returned to the Puerto Rican Senate until 1970, when he finally retired. Muñoz Marín passed away in Santurce, Puerto Rico, on April 30, 1980.

Researched and Written by: Arantxa Quiñones is a translator and nonfiction writer based in San Juan, Puerto Rico. For more of her work or to Contact her, please check out her Upwork Profile.

Friday, May 7, 2021

Luquillo Puerto Rico

The city of Luquillo, also called the Sun Capital of Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rico Riviera, is a popular vacation travel spot due to its location between the blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the only official tropical rainforest in the Caribbean. This seaside destination is perfect for watersports and beach hopping with more than 12 miles (19 kilometers) of coastline featuring soft golden sand, gentle waves, and serene bays. There are also many interesting activities available throughout the area.

Located roughly 33 miles (53 kilometers) from San Juan, the city is the northernmost point of the Northeast Ecological Corridor Nature Reserve, which stretches from the town center down the coast to the Seven Seas Beach in Fajardo. The gorgeous tropical landscape includes the rainforest as well as waterfalls and mountains. The city is also one of Puerto Rico’s most popular beach towns, with 14 beaches around the area.

One of the most popular and nicest public beaches is Luquillo Beach, a government-run beach with Blue Flag status for its cleanliness and meeting environmental standards. It has a shore lined with majestic coconut palms that stretches for more than a mile, turquoise waters that are calm due to a natural wave break, and a sandy bottom of fine sand. Here, visitors can find amenities like public bathrooms with showers, chair and kayak rentals, access for disabled people, and an ample parking lot.

Parallel to Luquillo Beach along the PR-3 highway is a roadside strip of 60 restaurants, bars, and gift shops called Los Kioskos. This is the place to go if you are looking for an authentic Puerto Rican foodie experience and over the years, the fare has expanded to include a large variety of different cuisines. While many of the kiosks are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, the strip is lively all week and really ramps up on the weekends with live music and bars open until 2:00 a.m.

Another popular beach in the area is Playa Azul, easily identified by the mural paintings by local artists that line the road. The water here has some waves to it, making it a popular area for body-boarding and stand-up paddle-boarding. There is also a roped-off swimming area, but no lifeguards or public amenities.

Many of the beaches in the area are located within walking distance of the town’s central plaza. Here, a number of lively festivals are held throughout the year, including the Three Kings Day festival held in January and the Coconut Festival held each fall. In March, the city celebrates its patron saint festival, the Fiestas Patronales de San Jose, which features parades, amusement rides, games, and live entertainment.

Those looking for an outdoor adventure can travel just outside the city to the El Yunque National Forest, formerly known as the Caribbean National Forest. El Yunque is the only tropical forest in the United States National Forest System and holds an estimated 240 types of tree, along with many other plants. Hiking trails throughout the rainforest lead to mountain peaks, scenic lookouts, and waterfalls.

Major highlights in El Yunque include Juan Diego Falls, La Mina Falls, and a natural river waterslide called Las Paylas. Visitors can also hike to the peaks of the mountain range, which rise more than 3,000 feet above sea level. There is also the Carabalí Rainforest Adventure Park, which offers biking, ATVs, ziplines, go-cart racing, and horseback riding.

No matter what kind of tropical adventure you are looking for, you can find it in Luquillo, Puerto Rico. From sipping tropical drinks on shimmering sand to hiking through a lush rainforest surrounded by songbirds to dancing the night away with the locals, there are different things to do every day of your vacation.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Puerto Rico groans under pandemic as health economy suffer

puerto rico groans as economy and health suffer FILE - In this March 10, 2021 file photo, a healthcare worker injects a man with a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine during a mass vaccination campaign, at the Maria Simmons elementary school in Vieques, Puerto Rico. A spike in cases and hospitalizations has put medical experts at odds with the government, which is struggling to protect people’s health while also trying to prevent an economic implosion on an island battered by hurricanes, earthquakes and a prolonged financial crisis. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti, File)

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Puerto Rico seemed to be sprinting toward herd immunity this spring before people began letting their guard down against COVID-19 and new variants started spreading across the U.S. territory.

Now, a spike in cases and hospitalizations has put medical experts at odds with the government, which is struggling to protect people’s health while also trying to prevent an economic implosion on an island battered by hurricanes, earthquakes and a prolonged financial crisis.

“The difficulty here is how do you find a Solomonic decision ... to give people the opportunity to work and be responsible and also maintain health as a priority,” said Ramón Leal, former president of Puerto Rico’s Restaurant Association. “These are hard conversations.”

It’s a delicate balance for an island that imposed a lockdown and mask mandates ahead of any U.S. state and has some of the strictest entry requirements of any American jurisdiction — measures that helped contain infections before the latest surge.

Overall, the land of 3.3 million people has reported more than 115,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, over 115,000 suspected ones and more than 2,000 deaths, with transmission rates inching up the last week of April to 28 cases per 100,000 people a day, compared with 17 per 100,000 on the U.S. mainland.

The pandemic has unleashed the second-biggest economic drop Puerto Rico has seen since recordkeeping began in 1980, according to José Caraballo, a Puerto Rico economist. The biggest was caused by Hurricane Maria, which inflicted more than $100 billion in damage in 2017, with nearly 3,000 people dying in its sweltering aftermath.

More than 30,000 jobs have been lost because of the COVID-19 outbreak, and at least 1,400 businesses have closed, Caraballo said — this on an island that saw nearly 12% of its population flee in the past decade and whose government is struggling with crushing debt that led it to file for the biggest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history in 2017.

“I’m taken aback by what the people of Puerto Rico have had to endure,” Caraballo said.

Many of those who remain are mourning over lost homes, jobs, businesses or loved ones.

Luis Ángel Sánchez has two close friends in the intensive care unit and lost his father and son to COVID-19 in April 2020 less than two weeks apart. Sánchez got vaccinated in mid-March.

“The vaccine will not erase the scars or heal my broken heart,” he wrote on Facebook that day. “It will not bring back my son. It will not bring back my father. They, along with the others who have succumbed to this monster will not have died in vain if we continue to do the right thing.”

Sánchez said people should keep their guard up and exhorted the government to impose stricter sanctions on those not following COVID-19 measures.

“It’s not over yet,” he said.

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi has resisted tighter restrictions, saying that another lockdown would be too extreme and that things will keep improving and the island could achieve herd immunity by August: “The solution is vaccination.”

More than 2 million doses have been administered on the island, with a robust 55% having received at least one shot and 27% two.

While health authorities say they are relieved many are eager to get vaccinated, they note that some people who are not yet fully protected are disregarding restrictions that include a more than yearlong curfew.

That and the presence of at least seven COVID-19 variants on the island are believed to be contributing to the rise in cases. Another factor, experts say, is a drop in testing from an average of around 7,000 tests a day to 2,000, a trend blamed on people becoming fixated on getting vaccinated.

The fight against COVID-19 has also been complicated by a drain of medical talent to the U.S. mainland.

The number of doctors in Puerto Rico is down to 9,000 from 14,000 in 2006, said Dr. Víctor Ramos, a pediatrician and president of the island’s Association of Surgeons. Similar drops have been seen among nurses and technicians.

“Health professionals are exhausted, and they’re scarce,” said Daniel Colón-Ramos, who presides over a scientific coalition that advises Puerto Rico’s governor.

Ramos and other health experts say the governor should temporarily ban indoor dining, a measure imposed last year. Currently, restaurants and other places are restricted to 30% capacity, but officials say the limit is hard to gauge and question whether it is even being followed.

It’s an issue the government and business owners have clashed over repeatedly, with the industry insisting that it’s safer to eat at a restaurant indoors, given all the safety protocols, than in someone’s house.

Mateo Cidre, the owner of four restaurants and bakeries, said the industry has not recovered from the nine weeks last year in which restaurants could only do delivery, carryout or curbside pickup. He suffered heavy losses and applied for a suspension of car and home payments.

He criticized the government for not further loosening restrictions even when there has been a drop in cases.

“They’ve never been flexible with us,” he said. “It’s been a very tiresome road.”

Other industries also have been hit hard, with a $2 billion drop in retail sales last year, said Jorge Argüelles, former president of Puerto Rico’s Retail Association.

Those being squeezed by the restrictions say the governor should impose tighter restrictions at the airports, where only about 30% of those arriving carry the required negative COVID-19 test. Several tourists have been arrested for lashing out at authorities after refusing to follow health instructions.

A voluntary, 14-day confinement option was lifted on Wednesday, and those who don’t have a negative test face a $300 fine if they don’t present one within 48 hours. However, there is no system to fine them on arrival; it is up to people to voluntarily fill out a document online later so that they can be fined.

“The thing I’m most anxious about,” said Colón-Ramos, who oversees the scientific council, “is thinking that there are people alive today who can be saved or can die depending on how Puerto Ricans behave.”