ARMY VETERAN TOLD NOT TO FLY PUERTO RICAN FLAG ON HER FLORIDA PROPERTY BY HOME OWNER’S ASSOCIATION

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A report by Donica Phifer for Newsweek. Our thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to our attention.

An Army veteran is questioning a ruling from her home owner’s association after being notified that the flag flying in front of her home is against the rules.

Frances Santiago and her husband, Efrain Santiago, had been flying the Puerto Rico flag at their home in Kissimmee, Florida for about three weeks when the letter from the HOA arrived, Frances told WFTV.

Frances told the television station that the flag was placed outside their home when protests began in Puerto Rico in July. The protests, believed to be the largest in the history of the U.S. territory, eventually led former Governor Ricardo Rossello to resign, along with several other prominent government officials following the publication of hundreds of messages between Rossello, members of his Cabinet and several aides to the former governor. The messages contained homophobic, misogynistic and profanity-ladened conversations among the group about other politicians, celebrities and members of the media.

Putting the flag up was a way to support Puerto Ricans as they protested, Frances told WFTV.

“I fought for this, to be able to do this. So, I don’t see a problem with flying my flag here,” Frances, a retired Army medic, said.

The letter from the HOA told the Santiagos that the only flags that can be flown in their neighborhood of Rolling Hills Estates are U.S. flags, military flags or sports flags. Any other flags must be taken down, an email sent to the couple from the HOA following the letter said.

“I’m proud of my roots, who I am, [where] I come from. We’re not offending anyone. None of the neighbors were offended with us putting the flag there,” Efrain told WFTV. “Puerto Rico is part of America. What’s the big issue with us having our flag there?”

In a separate email to WFTV, the HOA president Norma McNerney said the request for the Santiagos to remove the flag isn’t because it is from Puerto Rico.

“We treat all owners the same. If you travel through our community, you will see the only flags are those regulated by the state,” McNerney said.

However, Efrain and Frances said they have no intention of removing the flag from their home.

“[The flag] will stay there and we’ll deal with it; we’ll exhaust every avenue possible,” Efrain said.

“We have our house, you see, up to standards. We’re not doing anything wrong. We’re not doing anything to our neighbors by flying our flag,” Frances said.

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