A Florida Army veteran was told by her Homeowners Association (HOA) that she can’t fly her Puerto Rican flag —only an American flag or a military flag, Orlando’s WFTF-TV reports. She hired an attorney.
Frances Santiago said that when islanders in Puerto Rico began taking to the streets last month to demand the resignation of their governor, she and her husband, Efrain, decided to join other Floridians of Puerto Rican descent and hang up the flag of their home.
“I’m proud of my roots, who I am, [where] I come from,” Efrain said.
The flag was up for about three weeks before the Santiagos got a notice from the HOA of their Rolling Hills Estates neighborhood in Kissimmee, in suburban Orlando: the flag had to go. In follow-up emails, the family was told that the HOA rules only allow the American flag, flags of sports teams, or military flags.
“We treat all owners the same. If you travel through our community, you will see the only flags are those regulated by the state,” said an email from the HOA.
Efraim wasn’t having it.
“We’re not offending anyone. None of the neighbors were offended with us putting the flag there. Puerto Rico is part of America. What’s the big issue with us having our flag there?” he said.
He also noted that the couple’s house is up to standards in every other way.
— Raul Colon Ⓥ (@rj_c) August 13, 2019
Frances Santiago, who is a 14-year Army veteran who served two tours of duty in Iraq, doesn’t understand what the problem is.
“I fought for this, to be able to do this. So, I don’t see a problem with flying my flag here.”
Often times, HOAs will levy fines against homeowners who aren’t in compliance with the covenants — that is, the rules in the contract that the homeowners signed when they moved in. Fortunately for the Santiagos, they haven’t been fined, yet. They have, however, hired an attorney.
From time to time, stories will pop up in the news about HOAs being so punctilious about the rules that they make headlines, and usually such stories involve the displays of flags. In an Arizona case, as reported by The Inquisitr, a widow of two veterans, one who served in World War II, had a stencil of the American flag next to her house numbers painted on the curb. 82-year-old Donna Cordero was told that the stencil had to go; she vowed to fight it instead.