KISSIMMEE, Fla. — A controversy is brewing in Kissimmee between a homeowners association and an Army veteran who says she wants the freedom to fly the flag of her choice at her home.
Frances Santiago spent 14 years as an Army medic, including two tours in Iraq.
Santiago wants to fly the Puerto Rican flag, but her HOA in the Rolling Hills Estates said the particular flag is against the rules.
“I fought for this, to be able to do this. So, I don't see a problem with flying my flag here,” Santiago said.
Last month, when Puerto Ricans on the island began demanding the governor resign with impassioned protests, Frances and her husband decided to show their support on their quiet street.
“I'm proud of my roots, who I am, [where] I come from,” Efrain Santiago said. “We're not offending anyone. None of the neighbors were offended with us putting the flag there.”
The flag was on display for three weeks before a notice arrived from the HOA along with emails explaining anything other than a U.S. flag, a military flag or a sports flag must be removed.
In an email, the HOA president said: "We treat all owners the same. If you travel through our community, you will see the only flags are those regulated by the state."
“Puerto Rico is part of America. What's the big issue with us having our flag there?” Efrain Santiago said.
The Santiagos said it might be time to revisit the rules, especially with Osceola County's growing Hispanic community.
“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,” Efrain Santiago said.
The Santiagos are not facing any fines for keeping the flag up, but that could change. They said the hired an attorney.
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