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Puerto Rico in the Aftermath of Hurricane Maria

I have friends and family in Puerto Rico.

This is going to be an angry post, and it’s going to cover some ugly truths about US politics as it pertains to Puerto Rico. If you think that staying silent in the face of injustice is patriotic, this post isn’t for you.

I’m writing this post because my family, my friends are struggling with the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

I’m writing this post because after the hurricane hit, 80% of the island is without power, and many municipalities have had to evacuate because infrastructure like dams have reached critical failures.

I’m writing this post because Puerto Rico is without any communication to the outside world. They are currently on their own.

I had sporadic communication with my sister, who weathered the hurricane with no major losses, but unless she and millions of others on the island get emergency aid fucking expedited to the island, they’re all subject to disease, dehydration, lack of food. There’s been reports of people stealing necessities, which can escalate into other dangers.

Some reports have called this “looting,” but when places like Costco, Wal-mart and everywhere else, have plenty of stock, but no diesel to run generators, or electricity to run registers, or the ability to charge people for what they want, I can’t fucking fault anyone who takes what they can. It’s either that, or all that food on the shelves perishes anyway.

As it stands today, I have lost communication with all my family. Last I heard, everyone got through the storm, but my dad got knocked unconscious trying to keep the front doors to his house from getting blown to hell by hurricane winds. As far as I know, he has not gotten any medical attention for that injury. How could he? The hospitals are all at the point of collapsing as well, due to the lack of diesel to run generators.

My family was supposed to fly up for my wedding this week, but they can’t. The Luis Muñoz Marín Airport is a dark, sweltering trap at the moment, where some people have been there for five fucking days. Many boarding passes can’t be confirmed because there’s no communication with the outside world.

The fucking thing is: my family is relatively well off. There are entire impoverished communities of color, like Loíza, whose people saw their houses swept away in the floods. There are places like mountainous Juncos, that bore the brunt of Hurricane Maria’s strongest winds, and tore the roofs off of people’s small homes.

Thousands of people could die in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria if Puerto Rico doesn’t get the attention it needs.

And what do I hear non-stop over the last few days? Trump’s fucking tweets.

That’s it.

No word about what needs to be done in Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

Before anyone thinks that this is something new that’s happened solely because of Trump, it’s not.

This is a situation that’s been building for quite some time. Has Trump handled the aftermath of the hurricane in Puerto Rico well? No, not by any measure. At the very least, he could have made a public statement about the situation facing more than 3 million US citizens, but not even that’s happened.

Thing is: Puerto Rico is a colony of the US.

It has been for quite some time. As a result of US economic policies like the Jones Act, that have negatively affected the island (while benefiting US corporations and economic interests), the island’s government has lacked the revenue to maintain vital infrastructure. That $73 billion of debt you likely kept hearing about last year? There’s a pretty good case that this wealth was extracted from Puerto Rico’s economy with laws and exceptions like those previously mentioned. Puerto Rico’s loss has been the US economy’s gain.

This is why I was against the Obama administration’s appointment of PROMESA to handle the island’s economic woes. In essence, an board of unelected officials with the primary goal of paying back the debt by slashing public spending. They could even override the elected government if public expenditures would imperil servicing the debt and repayment.

Call me cynical, but I’m sure the economic junta heading PROMESA won’t let something like a catastrophe stop them from collecting their pound of flesh from Puerto Rico. In the wake of the hurricane, they’re increasing the pressure to privatize Puerto Rico’s electric company behind closed doors, while the utility’s union members are putting themselves in danger to get the grid back online.

I’m writing this post because I’m fucking angry.

I’m writing this post because it’s gotten to this.

I’m writing this post because the interests of the US will continue to grind its colony Puerto Rico down until it sinks into the sea.

I’m writing this post because this shit has got to stop.

 

 

Published inLatino

One Comment

  1. Joe Pachioli Joe Pachioli

    Karlo, an angry young man with all due justification.

    I graduated from St. Joe’s with your Dad, Tom, a mild-mannered, physically imposing and great guy, and dearly hope that he recovers quickly from the head injury wrought by the Hurricane.

    Karlo’s ‘post’ was penned before the world was to witness the televised ultimate insult to Puerto Rico, to wit, Paper Towel rolls being thrown into a crowd of Hurricane victims.

    Whatever became of John F. Kennedy’s Alianza para Progreso ?

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