8. Puerto Rico
everything about post-Maria Puerto Rico
— Exularoye (@exularoye) November 16, 2017
— Pearl Jolly (@PearlJolly) November 15, 2017
Yesterday the White House sent congress a disaster aid request for $44 billion to help rebuild from hurricane damage, which is already drawing outcry from Puerto Rico and Texas, who had requested far more. Asked for comment, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders responded (and this is a real quote), “I don’t think $44 billion is a low amount and my guess is if you asked any average citizen across this country they wouldn’t feel that it’s low either.”
They’re not even trying to sound sincere anymore. “Well the average person thinks that’s a lot of money, so obviously it’s enough to restore miles and miles of extensive hurricane damage.” You could ask the average American citizen if $100,000 is a low amount of money and they’d tell you no too, for God’s sake.
That’s how little this administration cares. While they’re over there working on tax cuts for unfathomably wealthy plutocrats, hurricane victims are being told to make due with far less than they need and publicly reprimanded on Twitter if they complain.
Nearly two months after Hurricane Maria, the majority of Puerto Ricans are still without power in what ranks as the largest blackout in US history. Clean water is still a problem, as is living space, and there are severe labor issues. Some of this is the natural consequence of a severe natural disaster in a hard-to-access area, but it’s hard to imagine anywhere in the continental United States receiving such underfunded cold shoulder treatment.
On October 2, the poverty-fighting charity coalition Oxfam released a statement, saying that they had “monitored the response in Puerto Rico closely, and we are outraged at the slow and inadequate response the US Government has mounted.”
“The US has more than enough resources to mobilize an emergency response,” the statement continued, “but has failed to do so in a swift and robust manner.”
On October 19th, Oxfam still sharply criticized the US government’s performance, saying “At this stage in the humanitarian response, these conditions are unacceptable and we need to see a more robust and efficient response from the US government now.”
Insights like these and the administration’s current attitude toward Puerto Rico indicate that the Trump administration is ignoring the island in the same way it ignores everyone who isn’t wealthy and powerful.