Proud Boricuas Frances and Efraín Santiago flew their Puerto Rican flag high over their Kissimmee, Fl., home in support and honor of protesters in their home country. Homeowners in their subdivision launched complaints against them with the Homeowners Association (HOA). An unidentified associate from the Rolling Hills Estates Homeowners Association left a letter with a warning at their home, citing a “flag violation.” The message said: “Please rectify the listed violation, or you may incur a fine.”
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Frances Santiago, 38, is an army vet. She is from Puerto Rico and spent 14 years in the army as a medic. Her time in the military consisted of serving two tours in Iraq.
According to a story in Remezcla, Santiago’s community has gathered around her to support her right to fly the bandera above her home despite objections from Rolling Hills Estates HOA.
“I fought for this, to be able to do this. So, I don’t see a problem with flying my flag here,” Santiago told WFTV News in Florida.
The Homeowners Association banned all flags but made exceptions for the American flag, one that honors first responders and fallen officers as well as sports flags.
Santiago requested an exception be made for her patria’s bandera after all to be Puerto Rican is to be American. The HOA refused Santiago’s supplication without any further explanation. However, she refuses to take it down.
“I flew the U.S. flag for almost a year and nobody went and complained or left a note at my door,” she said. “I think it’s likely motivated by ignorance not prejudice or discrimination — at least that’s what I want to believe.”
An online petition created and posted last Tuesday night has more than 2,000 signatures.
The HOA released a statement stating that it “treats all owners the same and the board is following regulations.”
The board had the authority to allow the army vet to keep her flag. It is not clear why the HOA refused. There doesn’t appear to be any Latino board members on the Rolling Hills Estates Homeowners Association.
Kissimmee is a city with one of the largest Puerto Rican populations outside of the island, especially after Hurricane Maria.