Georgia State University

“Maria had its way with Puerto Rico and the Government will barely put a band aid” by “Julian Toro” @ “Georgia State University”

Maria had its way with Puerto Rico and the government will barely put a band aid:

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‘You will be safe, we will be ready for what lies ahead and there is help on call’, maybe a distant paraphrasing from the promise that the Puertorrican Governor, Ricardo Rosello gave his residents. It has been a year, if not a couple of days over the time Hurricane Maria paid a visit to the Caribbean. ​​ It has been a year and residents still live in fear of the season we are in. September has will no longer be happy month, for it is a memory of literally the darkest month in Puerto Rico.

 

Following the days after Maria many residents of Puerto Rico had no idea what was going on, other than the fact the island was in ruins. Forget about the visit Trump paid to Guaynabo ​​ a city that was barely affected by Maria, let’s talk about Naguabo, Yabucoa, Utuado, Morovis and more. I bet this is the first time you hear of such cities. Naguabo and Yabucoa are the Municipalities (cities) in which the hurricane introduced itself to the island. Houses left dangling, without roofs, without doors and windows, and no power. These areas were the most affected, not only physically, but financially. A city that sustained itself with the little economy it had, most of it from its residents, who are local shop owners, fishermen, house cleaners or shop clerks. They lost their jobs, their means of transportation; shops were washed away, means of working (for those who fished, they lost their boats). In the cities of Utuado and Morovis, similar story different atmosphere. In these cities the houses were literally hanging off the mountains, forget about roofs, these people didn’t have floors!

 

“It looked as if the government thought: the hurricane hit so hard in Yabucoa, there probably isn’t anybody left, it’s not necessary to go work there” – Mayor of Yabucoa, Rafael Serrillo

 

More over let’s look at the government. As mentioned before, ‘La promesa falsa’; the governor of Puerto Rico Ricardo Rosello promised to the residence safety and security before Maria struck, yet when the time came there was no game-plan. “Four days it took for someone to come in contact and inform the US government, eight days later Trump assigns a military chief to go to Puerto Rico and assess, it took a couple of more days for the president to visit” (Osvaldo Soto Garcia, Secretary of Public Affairs under the President of the Senate) {Over the phone interview}. Osvaldo claims that people are losing faith in the system, referendums are coming in with less and less support. A month after the disaster, voters claimed to have lost hope on the Governor and some even fled the country. One thing that surely did not help was firing the director in charge of emergency preparedness, mid chaos. People already had their doubts on this governor, on the system even, this action only reinforced it.

 

Democracy was little by little, dying in the dark. Some people gained power back in June 2018. 9 months without power at home, on an island where a typical day is 100 degrees with humidity. Tell me, how this does not bring anyone a loss of faith in your government? The Washington post took a survey in which 8/10 people had negative comments towards Trump’s Aid. The Federal Government reacted slowly, and barely supported the island and its residents. Heck! - A video even went viral- a military aid taped as the officials who came to aid the island were placed in one of the few hotels with power and were having party, after party every night.

 

Political parties are fighting left and right. Who would have done better? I don’t even know, but in the moment of need the government was not there the way they were supposed to. People tend to be polarized by the political parties, to the point where they boycott referendums if their views are not present, i.e. statehood referendum, only 22.2% of the nation voted, vast majority from one political party. In election days fights have broken out over political parties, heck people don’t date certain others because of political views. Polarization is not a new thing in Puertorrican democracy. Over the years the ideal of the Independent Party (PIP)keeps growing and growing, though instead of voting they (PIP’s) just don’t do it. Every election there is a shift in power, people use their vote as a punishment. Slowly this will drain out the residents, and who knows? Maybe a modern revolution will occur.

 

I believe that it is safe to say that more could have been done. While the people in the island keep suffering, local government talks about budgeting for personal or government vehicles (inside info from government associates). Most of the reason of why the Federal Government didn’t do more is because Puerto Rico isn’t a mainland (many think the same way). Faulty sense of security, lack of assistance/ response, mid disaster cabinet change, misuse of funds and resources; what else can I add? The government failed, and they have not given the people a reason to believe in them. You reap what you sow.

 

1 Comment

  1. Maria Andrade

    December 2, 2018 at 12:50 am

    It is unbelievable to think that amidst the chaos created by Hurricane Maria, the Government of Puerto Rico would fire the person in charge of emergency preparedness without having a plan to replace him. The consequences of Maria continue to resonate with those living in Puerto Rico and even some outside who had no other option but to flee their home. The little help offered by both federal and local government has definitely served as another reason to lose faith in the system but unfortunately, with a catastrophe the size of hurricane Maria, the people of Puerto Rico are left to cling to the slither of hope left in these authorities. The lack of Puerto Rican representation on Capitol Hill can be singled out as the main contributor to the little of aid provided by the government. It is critical that the people of Puerto Rico are treated like fellow Americans and provided the aid necessary to live a dignified life.

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