Army Veteran Told Not To Fly Puerto Rican Flag On Her Florida Property By Home Owner's Association

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.

Puerto Rico flag
A protester waves the Puerto Rican flag in San Juan, Puerto Rico, July 22, 2019 on day 9th of continuous protests demanding the resignation of Governor Ricardo Rosselló. - Protests erupted last week after the leak of hundreds of pages of text chats on the encrypted messaging app Telegram in which Rossello and 11 other male administration members criticize officials, politicians and journalists. In one exchange, chief financial officer Christian Sobrino makes homophobic references to Latin superstar Ricky Martin. In another, a mocking comment is made about bodies piled up in the morgue after Hurricane Maria, which left nearly 3,000 dead. ERIC ROJAS/Getty

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.

While the Santiagos currently aren't being issued any fines for the violation, they told WFTV they have hired a lawyer.

The Santiagos aren't the only individuals who have run into trouble for flying a flag outside their home. A Wisconsin couple was threatened with eviction by their landlord in March after flying a gay pride flag outside their apartment.

Army Veteran Told Not To Fly Puerto Rican Flag On Her Florida Property By Home Owner's Association | News