In the wake of Hurricane Maria’s devastation last week, Justice Sonia Sotomayor joined the millions of Puerto Ricans in the United States who were struggling to connect with loved ones on the island.
“I haven’t heard from half my family yet,” Sotomayor told an audience in Washington’s Newseum last week. “The island is suffering a great tragedy right now. Myself personally and the rest of my family, we are exceedingly concerned. We ask for your prayers.”
As she waited to hear from her family, Sotomayor was moved to send a message to the people of Puerto Rico en español, which aired Tuesday afternoon on WKAQ 580, a local radio station.
“So many people reached out to her while she waited to hear from her own family in Puerto Rico, the Justice wanted to send words of encouragement in response,” said Kathy Arberg, a Supreme Court spokeswoman. Arberg had earlier confirmed that Sotomayor had been able to reach most of her family.
In her message, the justice, who was born and raised in the Bronx to Puerto Rican–born parents, exhorts her “beloved island” to remain steadfast as it faces the daunting task of rebuilding. “Puerto Rico will not only survive this. It will bloom once again,” she said.
The recorded message Sotomayor sent along to Puerto Rico was posted on Facebook by radio commentator Jay Fonseca. You can read my translation of it below:
This past week I’ve felt especially connected to my Puerto Rican brethren here and those on our beloved island. I’m grateful that I was able to hear from many in my family. But I know that many other people are still going through uncertainty as they await to receive news from their loved ones.
Our hearts are anguished in the face of so much devastation and destruction that [Hurricane] Maria caused. And now we face the great task of reconstruction. But above all, we are united in the firm belief that Puerto Rico will persevere. The incredible spirit and strength of the Puerto Rican people is unbreakable. Our island has faced innumerable challenges throughout the centuries. However, each and every time, Puerto Rico has emerged stronger. And we will do so again.
For the people on the island, I want you to know that you are not alone. Your families and friends, along with private and public organizations, have already begun to mobilize to send help. Through our ability to work hard, the Isla del Encanto will be reborn as a beacon of hope.
Puerto Rico will not only survive this. It will bloom once again. My beloved Puerto Rico, I embrace you with love and hope. I hope to see you in a not-so-distant future.