Humanitarian Crisis in Puerto Rico–What the Media and Trump Admin Aren’t Reporting

by Stephanie Grayson, Global Unity and Information Network

Puerto Rico, a US territory of appx. 3.5 million people, with a vibrant independent culture and rich history, is dying. Gross mismanagement, incompetence, political maneuvering, financial debt, and the absolute devastation wrought by hurricane Maria have left the colony destitute. With little food and supplies getting to the people that desperately need them, the citizens are slowly starving. The infrastructure has been destroyed with many roads impassable still, and a power grid already in a state of needing repair prior to the storm, mostly dysfunctional. The cell towers are slowly coming back along with the power but engineers are needed to repair and clear the roads that supplies can get through. Many of these sit on a tarmac spoiling while the people starve.

Puerto Rico became a territory of the US in 1898 when it was acquired from Spain after the Spanish-American War. In 1917, its people became U.S. citizens, able to serve in the military but not to vote in U.S. presidential elections. The island governs itself, but its foreign policy is dictated by Washington.

The power of Congress over territories is exclusive and complete, as described in Article IV of the Constitution:

The Congress shall have the power to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory or other property belonging to the United States.

Puerto Rico has voted on changing its national status four times in the past 45 years. The last vote occurring in 2012 with 54 percent, or 922,374 people, voting for change in a two-part referendum with statehood winning by 61 percent over the other options of a sovereign nation, receiving 33 percent, and independence, earning 5 percent. Where independence would have given the territory complete autonomy, it would have also left them struggling with a $74-billion-dollar debt, (The territory filed for the biggest municipal bankruptcy in the US in May.) and an economic recession stretching a decade, with an unemployment rate of 11.5%. What does statehood give Puerto Rico? Well, it gives them additional aid, Medicaid, SNAP, earned income tax credit, (as they will be paying taxes if granted)child-related programs, and access to all other federally funded programs which they are entitled to receive 50 percent of now. It also gives them 6 seats in the House of Representatives and two senators. With the debt and bankruptcy filed the US is simply not willing to extend them any money, or in the case of Maria, desperately needed aid. Trump has already stated in numerous tweets and interviews in the past and recently, he would absolutely NOT bail Puerto Rico out of their economic situation. This brings us to the situation today…

On October 10, 2017 the house passed an aid package which does include Puerto Rico. Most locations would receive a grant during an emergency crisis, instead a loan was issued, here is how it breaks down, as reported by The Intercept:

“$18.67 billion is intended to replenish the Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster relief fund, particularly for events caused by hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. That means Florida, Texas, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands will share that money, as determined by FEMA. The Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general gets $10 million of that for audits and investigations of the use of relief funds. Puerto Rico will get a loan of $4.9 billion out of that same pot, money to be used for maintaining basic government operations. President Donald Trump had previously requested that amount in loan form. With practically no tax receipts collected since last month’s hurricane destroyed the island — 85 percent of homes without power three weeks after the storm Officials estimate that the government could run out of money and have to shut down on October 31.”

When all is said and done, this leaves Puerto Rico with an estimated additional $5 billion in debt, with a small amount of money for aid.

Meanwhile, the people of Puerto Rico are not receiving supplies. The roads are iffy, there’s a lack of transportation and drivers for supplies, the stall of Trump to lift the Jones Act, and no power to 85 percent have left them in desperate shape. FEMA and the Red Cross, have utterly failed these people. Supplies sit on a tarmac undistributed. Some will spoil if they haven’t already, Maria hit September 20th, 2017, 4 weeks ago.

Our group, Global Unity and Information Network, has been informed shipped supply packages are being turned away. I have no idea why this is occurring, but it is.  The amount of food and water being allotted per family by FEMA is insufficient; one small box of food per family and 6 water bottles.

I will post additional evidence as I receive it, along with additional articles, and videos of the people suffering and the current situation they are in. The disaster rescue I volunteer with has lists of names of people desperate for aide. We are being told by people they are eating dog food and stale crackers to survive. The local water sources are contaminated. They have no power and little cell phone coverage. 

While most mainstream media has moved on, Voice of America reports:

“A month after Maria, 82 percent of Americans in Puerto Rico have no power 35 percent no water,” Congressman Don Beyer of Virginia said in a tweet aimed at President Donald Trump on Wednesday. “And you’re still tweeting attacks at football players.”

But despite the slow recovery, Puerto Rico is filled with stories of hope and helping hands.

Washington chef Jose Andres has been leading a group of volunteers to feed the islanders since the hurricane hit. As of this week, the chef and his nonprofit World Central Kitchen hit a milestone in their campaign. According to The Washington Post, Andres’ team has prepared and delivered a million meals to residents, while the American Red Cross has served 540,000 meals and snacks.

On Tuesday, Andres tweeted: “After 3 weeks, 500+ volunteers, today @WCKitchen ChefsForPuertoRico served 1 millionth meal in Puerto Rico!”

 
Singers Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony, along with baseball star Alex Rodriguez, have raised more than $35 million through a concert, a telethon and corporate donations, as well as personal giving. Private donations are pouring into the island as well.

But the recovery is requiring coordination of thousands of troops and federal agencies.

Trump is scheduled to meet with the Puerto Rico governor Thursday to discuss the recovery and rebuilding effort.

Rossello asked Trump on Oct. 2 to expand the disaster declaration so that federal funds can be spent on fixing damaged schools, buildings and power plants.

The governor has also asked the White House and Congress for at least $4.6 billion in block grants and other types of funding.

But Trump has suggested there will be a limit to how much help Puerto Rico could expect from Washington to solve its long-term issues.

CNN has kept reporters on the ground in Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria hit a month ago. They have covered some of the forgotten areas waiting for help. 

Most major media are keeping silent or have reported very little about how bad things are. Please help by sharing this article. The more people we can make aware, the better chance for help they have. If you’d like to help in some way please join Stephanie at the Global Unity and Information Network and consider joining Patricia Garza, editor of Little Bytes News, at the Unify Americans project on Facebook to provide humanitarian aid, support, prayers and charity to those in need.

Sources and additional information:

Food Shortage: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/11/puerto-rico-food-shortage-hurricane-maria
Aid package information:
https://theintercept.com/2017/10/11/puerto-rico-relief-bill-cancels-16-billion-in-debt-but-not-for-puerto-rico/ 

 

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