Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Tweet on Promesa Triggers Social Media Backlash

By on June 10, 2016

SAN JUAN – Racist, offensive and shameful. These and more adjectives are being used by thousands in reaction to a post in the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources’ Twitter account, which appeared only hours after the lower chamber approved a bill aimed at addressing Puerto Rico’s fiscal crisis, the  Puerto Rico Oversight, Management & Economic Stability Act, or Promesa.

In a celebratory tone, the House committee’s official Twitter account had added a post that spurred anger among many. “When it’s Friday and #PROMESA passed the House yesterday,” reads the text accompanied by an animated image that shows an African-American child dressed as a U.S. president and dancing.

Promesa gifCaribbean Business contacted the committee’s Press and Communications Department in Washington, D.C., and was told the sole person responsible for its social media content was its digital director, who was not available. She has not responded to several emails seeking comment.

Following about seven hours of reactions and more than 100 retweets, the committee tweeted again: “To clarify, we’re excited #PROMESA received bipartisan support in the House. This is the most hopeful path forward for Puerto Rico.”

Along with the general public stateside and in Puerto Rico, several politicians, attorneys and media personalities reacted to the post.

“This tweet video is offensive to the people of PR, we don’t want PROMESA to be approved and members gave us their back,” Popular Democratic Party (PDP) Sen. Jorge Suárez wrote.

PDP Rep. Luis Vega Ramos replied, “Shame on you for adding insult to injury to Puerto Rico. Fiscal Control is no joke. Shame.”

Former PDP Gov. Aníbal Acevedo Vilá wrote, “Like a slave owner laughing while whipping the slave. You have no shame. We have pride.”

Meanwhile TV and social media personality Jay Fonseca said, “You, little person behind @NatResources account, you are an imbecile.”

In his succinct reply, attorney John E. Mudd said, “This is racist, degrading and a bad example of the use of public funds.”

The posted animation comes from a TV and YouTube personality known as Kid President, performed by 12-year-old Robby Novak. The young actor was featured in a series of YouTube videos and in a TV show, “Kid President: Declaration of Awesome” in 2014. Novak, who suffers from osteogenesis imperfecta, has endured more than 70 fractures in his body due to his rare bone condition.

This is not the first time a tweet from @NatResources has created controversy. In May 25, an animation, which is no longer available, was posted of pop singer Beyonce thanking House Speaker Paul Ryan the same day Promesa was passed to the House floor. I also generated harsh criticism from the island.

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