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Cycling Back to Puerto Rico

It’s been 8 months since Puerto Rico was hit by Hurricane Maria, and some time since we discussed Puerto Rico and the statehood of Puerto Rico in class. Jocelyn Velazquez quoted in a DemocracyNow! The article stated as follows:

“We are demanding the repeal of the PROMESA act. We demand eliminating the fiscal control board. We demand the creation of a democratic and participatory process to audit the debt, where we know in what the money was wasted on and how it was wasted, and, from there, begin to find a system that identifies what part of the debt is legal and what part is illegal. Then, the debt that is illegal needs to be removed, so that we can identify a plan to reconstruct the country and regain our economy.”

This article was posted today, May 2nd and titled “May Day in Puerto Rico: Police Attack Anti-Austerity Protesters with Pepper Spray & Tear Gas.” May Day is an international holiday honoring labor workers.

While this information was not was I was intending to find or hoping see for while searching online for the progress of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria I’m glad I found it. Puerto Rico is a commonwealth of the United States as we had discussed in class, and it appears to me Maria has left Puerto Rico in a state of ruin further prolonged by the limited and slow response of the United States to provide relief.   

I wanted to cycle back to Puerto Rico because how can a country (the US)  who has been hit relatively frequently and with category 4 and 5 hurricanes in the past almost ignore a place in need of help now. Why is the United States always so focused on the middle east and what injustice occurring over there, and not helping the people in our own backyard so to speak. America plays their both/and cards heavily, with both wanting democracy and peace, but being willing to bomb another country for it.  
An article by Frontline compared relief efforts by the government between Harvey, Irma, and Maria and the discrepancies were evident.
“To date, Congress has approved nearly $30 billion in recovery assistance for Puerto Rico — less than a third of the almost $94 billion that Puerto Rico’s government has requested. With hurricane season starting next month, the island’s future remains uncertain.”
Coming full circle with hurricane season approaching, it feels only appropriate to remind myself and others that Puerto Rico is still not back on its feet.

And further cycling back to how naming and “ What happens when we don’t have records?” plays into Puerto Rico is evident in this quote:

“So far in Puerto Rico, only about half of those who have applied for housing assistance from FEMA have received it. That’s largely because many Puerto Ricans lack the property records required by the agency to receive aid.”

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