Jose Cuevas Rivera always picks us up when our family arrives at San Juan Airport. Muscular, confident and energetic, he looks like the professional fisherman he was as a younger man. Actually, with his shaved head, big tattooed arms, pierced ears and ready smile, he looks like a professional wrestler or a Puerto Rican ‘Mr. Clean’.
Aside from taking care of our place, since giving up fishing, Jose has run his parent’s small business in Playa Salinas on Puerto Rico’s Caribbean coast. It is a usually thriving seaside bar and restaurant that attracts families of modest means from around the island. “¿Como está su negocio?” How’s your business? I always ask him as we drive south on Highway 52 past the red and orange flámboyan trees and the iconic statue of the Jíbaro, the island’s idealized traditional farmer. “Malo” Business is bad, Jose responded this time, far more emphatically negative than usual.
George Zimmerman had not even been booked on the latest domestic violence allegations when an avalanche of angry tweets and Facebook postings, literally hundreds of them, crushed my computer. The scolding messages were essentially the same.
‘See, we told you he was a murderous creep, how do you feel now about defending him?’ ‘Was his girlfriend wearing a hoodie? Is that why he assaulted her?’ ‘Geraldo you own George Zimmerman now, how does it feel to have helped a psycho escape justice?’ ‘Justice for Trayvon Martin.’ ‘No justice, no peace.’
Historically, the distrust has been fueled by envy, anti-Yanqui hype and bitter shared history. From at least what President Grant labeled the "Wicked War" of 1846, which ripped the American Southwest from Mexico, and the Spanish-American War of 1898 where the prizes included Puerto Rico, Cuba and the Philippines, there has been deep distrust of official Washington.