Puerto Rico: The Truth Knowledge And The History Of The Nation And People

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WORLD FACT BOOK)

 

Puerto Rico

Introduction Populated for centuries by aboriginal people, the island was claimed by the Spanish Crown in 1493 following COLUMBUS’ second voyage to the Americas. In 1898, after 400 years of colonial rule that saw the indigenous population nearly exterminated and African slave labor introduced, Puerto Rico was ceded to the US as a result of the Spanish-American War. Puerto Rican’s were granted US citizenship in 1917. Popularly-elected governors have served since 1948. In 1952, a constitution was enacted providing for internal self government. In plebiscites held in 1967, 1993, and 1998, voters chose not to alter the existing political status.
History Pre-Columbian era

The history of the archipelago of Puerto Rico (Spanish for “Rich Port”) before the arrival of Christopher Columbus is not well known. What is known today comes from archaeological findings and early Spanish accounts. The first comprehensive book on the history of Puerto Rico was written by Fray Iñigo Abbad y Lasierra in 1786, 293 years after the first Spaniards arrived on the island.

The first settlers were the Ortoiroid people, an Archaic Period culture of Amerindian hunters and fishermen. An archaeological dig in the island of Vieques in 1990 found the remains of what is believed to be an Arcaico (Archaic) man (named Puerto Ferro man) dated to around 2000 BC. Between AD 120 and 400, the Igneri, a tribe from the South American Orinoco region, arrived. Between the 4th and 10th centuries, the Arcaicos and Igneri co-existed (and perhaps clashed) on the island. Between the 7th and 11th centuries the Taíno culture developed on the island, and by approximately 1000 AD had become dominant. This lasted until Christopher Columbus arrived in 1492.

Spanish colony

When Christopher Columbus arrived in Puerto Rico during his second voyage on November 19, 1493, the island was inhabited by a group of Arawak Indians known as Taínos. They called the island “Borikén” or, in Spanish, “Borinquen”.[8] Columbus named the island San Juan Bautista, in honor of Saint John the Baptist. Later the island took the name of Puerto Rico while the capital was named San Juan. In 1508, Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce de León became the island’s first governor to take office.

The Spanish soon colonized the island. Taínos were forced into slavery and were decimated by the harsh conditions of work and by diseases brought by the Spaniards. In 1511, the Taínos revolted against the Spanish; cacique Urayoán, as planned by Agüeybaná II, ordered his warriors to drown the Spanish soldier Diego Salcedo to determine whether the Spaniards were immortal. After drowning Salcedo, they kept watch over his body for three days to confirm his death.[10] The revolt was easily crushed by Ponce de León and within a few decades much of the native population had been decimated by disease, violence, and a high occurrence of suicide. African slaves were introduced to replace the Taíno. Puerto Rico soon became an important stronghold and port for the Spanish Empire. Various forts and walls, such as La Fortaleza, El Castillo San Felipe del Morro and El Castillo de San Cristóbal, were built to protect the port of San Juan from European enemies. France, The Netherlands and England made several attempts to capture Puerto Rico but failed to wrest long-term occupancy. During the late 17th and early 18th centuries colonial emphasis was on the more prosperous mainland territories, leaving the island impoverished of settlers.

In 1809, in the midst of the Peninsular War, the Supreme Central Junta based in Cádiz recognized Puerto Rico as an overseas province of Spain with the right to send representatives to the recently convened Spanish parliament. The representative, Ramon Power y Giralt, died after serving a three-year term in the Cortes. These parliamentary and constitutional reforms, which were in force from 1810 to 1814 and again from 1820 to 1823, were reversed twice afterwards when the traditional monarchy was restored by Ferdinand VII. Nineteenth century reforms augmented the population and economy, and expanded the local character of the island. After the rapid gaining of independence by the South and Central American states in the first part of the century, Puerto Rico and Cuba became the only Spanish colonies found in the Americas.

Toward the end of the 19th century, poverty and political estrangement with Spain led to a small but significant uprising in 1868 known as “Grito de Lares”. It began in the rural town of Lares but was subdued when rebels moved to the neighboring town of San Sebastián. Leaders of this independence movement included Ramón Emeterio Betances, considered the “father” of the Puerto Rican independence movement, and other political figures such as Segundo Ruiz Belvis. In 1897, Luis Muñoz Rivera and others persuaded the liberal Spanish government to agree to Charters of Autonomy for Cuba and Puerto Rico. In 1898, Puerto Rico’s first, but short-lived, autonomous government was organized as an ‘overseas province’ of Spain. The charter maintained a governor appointed by Spain, which held the power to annul any legislative decision, and a partially elected parliamentary structure. In February, Governor-General Manuel Macías inaugurated the new government under the Autonomous Charter. General elections were held in March and the autonomous government began to function on July 17, 1898.

United States colony

On July 25, 1898, during the Spanish-American War, Puerto Rico was invaded by the United States with a landing at Guánica. As an outcome of the war, Spain ceded Puerto Rico, along with Cuba, the Philippines, and Guam to the U.S. under the Treaty of Paris.

The United States and Puerto Rico thus began a long-standing relationship. Puerto Rico began the 20th century under the military rule of the U.S. with officials, including the governor, appointed by the President of the United States. The Foraker Act of 1900 gave Puerto Rico a certain amount of popular government, including a popularly-elected House of Representatives. In 1917, the Jones-Shafroth Act granted Puerto Ricans U.S. citizenship and provided for a popularly-elected Senate to complete a bicameral Legislative Assembly. As a result of their new U.S. citizenship, many Puerto Ricans were drafted into World War I and all subsequent wars with U.S. participation.

Natural disasters, including a major earthquake, a tsunami and several hurricanes, and the Great Depression impoverished the island during the first few decades under American rule. Some political leaders, like Pedro Albizu Campos who led the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, demanded change. On October 30, 1950, Albizu-Campos and other nationalists led a 3-day revolt (known as The Jayuya Uprising) against the United States in the town of Jayuya. The United States declared martial law and attacked Jayuya with infantry, artillery and bombers. On November 1, 1950, Puerto Rican nationalists Griselio Torresola and Oscar Collazo attempted to assassinate President Harry S Truman. Torresola was killed during the attack, but Collazo was captured. Collazo served 29 years in a federal prison, being released in 1979. Don Pedro Albizu Campos also served many years in a federal prison in Atlanta, Georgia, for seditious conspiracy to overthrow the U.S. government in Puerto Rico.

The internal governance changed during the latter years of the Roosevelt–Truman administrations, as a form of compromise led by Muñoz Marín and others. It culminated with the appointment by President Truman in 1946 of the first Puerto Rican-born governor, Jesus T. Piñero.

Commonwealth

In 1947, the U.S. granted Puerto Ricans the right to democratically elect their own governor. Luis Muñoz Marín was elected during the 1948 general elections, becoming the first popularly-elected governor of Puerto Rico. In 1950, the Truman Administration allowed for a democratic referendum in Puerto Rico to determine whether Puerto Ricans desired to draft their own local constitution.[16] A local constitution was approved by a Constitutional Convention on February 6, 1952, ratified by the U.S. Congress, approved by President Truman on July 3 of that year, and proclaimed by Gov. Muñoz Marín on July 25, 1952, the anniversary of the 1898 arrival of U.S. troops. Puerto Rico adopted the name of Estado Libre Asociado (literally translated as “Free Associated State”), officially translated into English as Commonwealth, for its body politic.

During the 1950s Puerto Rico experienced rapid industrialization, due in large part to Operación Manos a la Obra (“Operation Bootstrap”), an offshoot of FDR’s New Deal, which aimed to transform Puerto Rico’s economy from agriculture-based to manufacturing-based. Presently, Puerto Rico has become a major tourist destination and a leading pharmaceutical and manufacturing center.[citation needed] Yet it still struggles to define its political status. Three plebiscites have been held in recent decades to resolve the political status but no changes have been attained. Support for the pro-statehood party, Partido Nuevo Progresista (PNP) and the pro-commonwealth party, Partido Popular Democrático (PPD) remains about equal. The only registered pro-independence party, the Partido Independentista Puertorriqueño (PIP), usually receives 3-5% of the electoral votes.

On October 25, 2006, the State Department of Puerto Rico conferred Puerto Rican citizenship to Juan Mari Brás. The Supreme Court of Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rican Secretary of Justice determined that Puerto Rican citizenship exists and was recognized in the Constitution of Puerto Rico. Since the summer of 2007, the Puerto Rico State Department has developed the protocol to grant Puerto Rican citizenship to Puerto Ricans.

Geography Puerto Rico has a republican form of government,[21] subject to U.S. jurisdiction and sovereignty.[2] Its current powers are all delegated by the United States Congress and lack full protection under the United States Constitution. Puerto Rico’s head of state is the President of the United States. The government of Puerto Rico, based on the formal republican system, is composed of three branches: Executive, Legislative, and Judicial. The Executive branch is headed by the Governor, currently Mr. Anibal Acevedo Vila. The Legislative branch consists of a bicameral Legislative Assembly made up of a Senate upper chamber and a House of Representatives lower chamber. The Senate is headed by the President of the Senate, while the House of Representatives is headed by the Speaker of the House. The Judicial branch is headed by the Chief Justice of the Puerto Rico Supreme Court. The legal system is a mix of the civil law and the common law systems. The governor and legislators are elected by popular vote every four years. Members of the Judicial branch are appointed by the governor with the “advice and consent” of the Senate.

Puerto Rico has limited representation in the U.S. Congress in the form of a nonvoting delegate, formally called a Resident Commissioner (currently Luis Fortuño). The current Congress has returned the Commissioner’s power to vote in the Committee of the Whole, but not on matters where the vote would represent a decisive participation.[22] Puerto Rican elections are governed by the Federal Election Commission;[23][24] While residing in Puerto Rico, Puerto Ricans cannot vote in U.S. presidential elections, but they can vote in primaries. Puerto Ricans who become residents of a U.S. state can vote in presidential elections.

As Puerto Rico is not an independent country, it hosts no embassies. It is host, however, to consulates from 42 countries, mainly from the Americas and Europe. Most consulates are located in San Juan. The Holy See has designated the Papal Nuncio in the Dominican Republic as the ecclesiastical liaison to the Roman Catholic Church in Puerto Rico; the Papal Nuncio in Washington, D.C. serves as the Vatican State’s ambassador to the U.S. and the ecclesiastical liaison to the American Roman Catholic Church.

As an unincorporated territory of the United States, Puerto Rico does not have any first-order administrative divisions as defined by the U.S. government, but has 78 municipalities at the second level. Mona Island is not a municipality, but part of the municipality of Mayagüez.[25] Municipalities are subdivided into wards or barrios, and those into sectors. Each municipality has a mayor and a municipal legislature elected for a four year term. The municipality of San Juan (previously called “town”), was founded first, in 1521, San Germán in 1570, Coamo in 1579, Arecibo in 1614, Aguada in 1692 and Ponce in 1692. An increase of settlement saw the founding of 30 municipalities in the 18th century and 34 in the 19th. Six were founded in the 20th century; the last was Florida in 1971.

From 1952 to present, Puerto Rico has had 3 political parties which stand for three distinct future political scenarios. The Popular Democratic Party (PPD) seeks to maintain the island’s “association” status as a commonwealth, improved commonwealth and/or seek a true free sovereign-association status or Free Associated Republic, and has won a plurality vote in referendums on the island’s status held over six decades after the island was invaded by the U.S. The New Progressive Party (PNP) seeks statehood. The Puerto Rican Independence Party seek independence. In 2007, a fourth party, Puerto Ricans for Puerto Rico Party (PPR), was ratified. The PPR’s claims that it seeks to address the islands’ problems from a status-neutral platform. Non-registered parties include the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, the Socialist Workers Movement, the Hostosian National Independence Movement, and others.

Politics Population: 3,958,128 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 20.5% (male 415,141/female 396,782)
15-64 years: 66% (male 1,254,416/female 1,358,229)
65 years and over: 13.5% (male 229,727/female 303,833) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 35.6 years
male: 33.8 years
female: 37.3 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.369% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 12.61 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 7.88 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: -1.03 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.92 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.76 male(s)/female
total population: 0.92 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 8.65 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 9.15 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 8.13 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 78.58 years
male: 74.64 years
female: 82.73 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.76 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: NA
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 7,397 (1997)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: Puerto Rican(s) (US citizens)
adjective: Puerto Rican
Ethnic groups: white (mostly Spanish origin) 80.5%, black 8%, Amerindian 0.4%, Asian 0.2%, mixed 4.2%, other 6.7% (2000 census)
Religions: Roman Catholic 85%, Protestant and other 15%
Languages: Spanish, English
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 94.1%
male: 93.9%
female: 94.4% (2002 est.)
Education expenditures: NA
People Population: 3,958,128 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 20.5% (male 415,141/female 396,782)
15-64 years: 66% (male 1,254,416/female 1,358,229)
65 years and over: 13.5% (male 229,727/female 303,833) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 35.6 years
male: 33.8 years
female: 37.3 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.369% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 12.61 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 7.88 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: -1.03 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.92 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.76 male(s)/female
total population: 0.92 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 8.65 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 9.15 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 8.13 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 78.58 years
male: 74.64 years
female: 82.73 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.76 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: NA
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 7,397 (1997)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: Puerto Rican(s) (US citizens)
adjective: Puerto Rican
Ethnic groups: white (mostly Spanish origin) 80.5%, black 8%, Amerindian 0.4%, Asian 0.2%, mixed 4.2%, other 6.7% (2000 census)
Religions: Roman Catholic 85%, Protestant and other 15%
Languages: Spanish, English
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 94.1%
male: 93.9%
female: 94.4% (2002 est.)
Education expenditures: NA

THE SLOW RECOVERY IN PUERTO RICO

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SMITHSONIAN)

 

THE SLOW RECOVERY IN PUERTO RICO

As the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria approaches, Puerto Ricans feel not only devastated but abandoned

A home on the storm-battered southeastern coast. The words on the sign, “Yo voy a ti PR,” translate roughly to “I’m rooting for you, Puerto Rico!” (Erika P. Rodríguez)

45SHARES

I didn’t leave Puerto Rico until I was 20. I was traveling to Europe with my college theater group when an immigration official in Spain said, “Oh, you’re American.” I tried to tell them, “Yes—but no.” I tried to explain that I am an American citizen in a place that “belongs to…but is not a part of” the United States, according to the Supreme Court’s definition of an unincorporated territory.

Later that year, I had the opposite experience when I transferred to a photography school in Ventura, California. I was the only Puerto Rican in my class and I felt very much like a foreigner. Our culture is a mixture of European, African and Taíno Indian. We’re very warm and outgoing. I had to adapt to a very different chemistry with the other students in California. Some of my closer friends there were Mexican, but I had to use a more neutral Spanish when I spoke to them, without all my Caribbean slang. When I’d call home, my cousin would ask, “Why are you speaking so strangely?” I’d say, “I can’t speak Puerto Rican here!”

Once we graduated, my Latin American friends had to leave the country. That was strange for me—that they couldn’t stay and I could. Yet I knew the history of Puerto Rico and what that advantage had cost us.

In 1898, Puerto Rico was acquired by the United States as a “spoil” of the Spanish-American War along with Guam and the Philippines. Until 1948, all our governors were appointed by the U.S. government. Until 1957, our patriotic songs and other expressions of nationalism were outlawed. Even today, our government exists under the discretion of Congress—though we do not have a voting representative in that body. Since 1967, there have been five referendums in Puerto Rico on statehood, independence or maintaining the commonwealth, but all have been nonbinding.

So we exist in a confusing, kind of gray realm. We use U.S. dollars and U.S. postage stamps. We serve in the U.S. military and our borders are monitored by U.S. Customs. In my California student days, I’d give my phone number to friends and they would ask if it was an international call. I had to check with my telephone company to find out (it isn’t). That’s Puerto Rico.

image: https://public-media.smithsonianmag.com/filer/91/66/91665e4d-b004-4e3c-ae99-76a17a008824/kulaug2018_m12_photorodriguez.jpg

A statue of the Virgin Mary

A statue of the Virgin Mary in Toa Baja, on Puerto Rico’s northern coast. The area flooded hours after Hurricane Maria made landfall, when the government opened a nearby dam. (Erika P. Rodríguez)
image: https://public-media.smithsonianmag.com/filer/13/b8/13b804da-6bdf-4ec7-840e-c760a4a6f905/kulaug2018_m03_photorodriguez.jpg

cultural center in Cayey

A flag hangs from the balcony at a cultural center in Cayey, during a performance of troubadour music. The sky blue in this flag is associated with the movement for an independent Puerto Rico. (Erika P. Rodríguez)
image: https://public-media.smithsonianmag.com/filer/9b/91/9b91f5b7-af8f-4e6c-ad22-69c8287f34e0/kulaug2018_m11_photorodriguez.jpg

Workers clean a business that flooded in Toa Baja, on Puerto Rico’s northern coast.

Workers clean a business that flooded in Toa Baja, on Puerto Rico’s northern coast. (Erika P. Rodríguez)
image: https://public-media.smithsonianmag.com/filer/ff/52/ff526ed7-d2f2-4960-b7d7-cacd47dd7085/kulaug2018_m06_photorodriguez.jpg

Bags of supplies

Bags of supplies wait to be distributed to families in Utuado. The Coca-Cola Puerto Rico Bottlers used their own trucks to deliver the supplies. (Erika P. Rodríguez)
image: https://public-media.smithsonianmag.com/filer/b2/39/b2397683-a654-4c5d-b9d1-3030f8ff21ee/kulaug2018_m07_photorodriguez.jpg

A Puerto Rican flag

A Puerto Rican flag is painted on the living room wall of a home without power. The bedrooms are uninhabitable so the entire family has been sleeping in this room. (Erika P. Rodríguez)
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A view of the Panoramic Route in San Lorenzo weeks after the storm. The route crosses the island east to west through the mountainous region, offering beautiful views. (Erika P. Rodríguez)

I’ve been documenting this ambiguity for the past six years, starting with an internship at a Puerto Rican newspaper. I began photographing everyday moments: a salsa class at a bar, Mother’s Day with my family, festivals and political events. I could be at a rally, where everyone was shouting. But the best photo would be the one where a woman holding a sign was looking down and being introspective. You could feel her withdrawing into her own thoughts.

After Hurricane Maria ravaged everything in its path last year, there was a sense of unity among people of the archipelago. Under complete darkness, without sufficient fuel, water or food, and largely without communications, our sense of community changed. It was visible in the young neighbor who collected and distributed water for months after the storm, and in the person with a power generator who would provide electricity to other families through extension cords crossing from one home to another. It was visible in the neighbors who cooked together on the only working gas stove on their street. Tension and despair were real, but a new solidarity emerged.

image: https://public-media.smithsonianmag.com/filer/82/35/823557a5-24ae-4c00-bed9-6ead0060b496/kulaug2018_m09_photorodriguez.jpg

a girl in the mountainous central city of Utuado

A few weeks after Maria, a girl in the mountainous central city of Utuado walked toward what used to be her home. A small creek nearby overflowed during the storm, eroding the road and pushing debris through the walls. (Erika P. Rodríguez)
image: https://thumbs-prod.si-cdn.com/yp58zinbKh_239dPEM2_GoX8E4I=/fit-in/600×0/https://public-media.smithsonianmag.com/filer/da/3c/da3c95d8-b08b-434e-8d97-ae468fb6ca88/kulaug2018_m01_photorodriguez.jpg

A touristy area of San Juan, the day after Maria snapped a palm trunk in two in Condado.

A touristy area of San Juan, the day after Maria snapped a palm trunk in two in Condado. (Erika P. Rodríguez)
In Aibonito, a mountain town, a picture of Jesus sat in a pile of debris, still partially buried by dirt, a few weeks after the storm.(Erika P. Rodríguez)
image: https://thumbs-prod.si-cdn.com/jyp_YptzjVbaGB7_-eIHWuSg_6s=/fit-in/600×0/https://public-media.smithsonianmag.com/filer/08/f0/08f0c70a-6313-4b72-a0d6-63824c6d8db5/kulaug2018_m10_photorodriguez.jpg

picture of Jesus

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A little girl named Brenda flies a kite at El Morro fort by San Juan Harbor.

A little girl named Brenda flies a kite at El Morro fort by San Juan Harbor. (Erika P. Rodríguez)

Over a week after the storm, I spotted a Puerto Rican flag flapping on the side of a fuel truck. More soon appeared on car antennas, storefronts, home balconies, highway bridges and street corners. Our flag, once illegal, could now be seen all over the island. It was a message: “We are here and we are standing.”

But we’re still dealing with the aftermath. In San Juan, where I live, I regularly still see broken electrical posts, missing traffic lights and blue plastic tarps covering damaged rooftops. The power still goes out short term. Things are much worse in the mountain town of Utuado. Communities there have been without power since the hurricane, unable to store food in their refrigerators, and many roads remain exactly as they were back in September. Electrical cables hang overhead and vegetation now grows in the mudslides that cover entire lanes.

The phrase “Se fue pa’ afuera”—literally, “he went outside”—is an expression for a Puerto Rican who has left the island on a one-way flight. It has become far too common. I’ve been to many tearful goodbye parties. My sister left for Chicago and has no desire to ever return; I was introduced to my newborn godson over Skype. I continue to see friends find better possibilities outside.

image: https://thumbs-prod.si-cdn.com/r0oMcerT7lU4uvRsVIbMruU9odI=/fit-in/1072×0/https://public-media.smithsonianmag.com/filer/4f/1d/4f1d455b-f73f-4820-a1e0-59e62f3cf71e/01_epr_01_recent_paid_1_osf.jpg

The Puerto Rican flag at a memorial for two independence activists killed in a police ambush in 1978 at Cerro Maravilla. (Erika P. Rodríguez)
image: https://public-media.smithsonianmag.com/filer/44/ad/44ad0e28-868c-4250-bd21-9649178dd65a/kulaug2018_m13_photorodriguez.jpg

residents and public workers

The day after the hurricane, residents and public workers navigated flooded streets to rescue people.(Erika P. Rodríguez)
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Police walk in formation

Police walk in formation as demonstrators protest planned austerity measures. (Erika P. Rodríguez)
image: https://public-media.smithsonianmag.com/filer/99/98/9998e9d4-fba7-484a-b50c-29967da75b2f/kulaug2018_m05_photorodriguez.jpg

A woman holds a sign

A woman holds a sign that says “A crime called education.” The University of Puerto Rico had announced plans to increase its tuition and possibly close six of its 11 campuses. (Erika P. Rodríguez)
image: https://public-media.smithsonianmag.com/filer/32/af/32afb6eb-5b45-4acb-8922-87f278a3cda9/kulaug2018_m02_photorodriguez.jpg

A woman hangs a solar lamp

A woman hangs a solar lamp in her living room. Eight months after the storm, her home was still without power. Her husband, who suffers from sleep apnea, couldn’t use his air pump at night. (Erika P. Rodríguez)

We won’t know until the 2020 census how many people have already left. Since the beginning of the recession in 2006, Puerto Rico has lost around 635,000 residents, and another half million are expected to leave by next year.

As a young Puerto Rican, I’m unsure what lies ahead. That’s why I want to stay and continue documenting our complex dual identity. I want to photograph Puerto Rico as we rebuild, or fall apart. I just can’t look away. There’s no room in my mind or heart for anything else.

About The Author: Erika P. Rodriguez is a photographer based in Puerto Rico. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post and The New York TimesRead More articles from Erika P. Rodriguez

Read more: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/puertorico_photo-essay-slow-recoery-180969346/#0ucBmooO5VMSslE1.99
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OAS: A HISTORY OF CRIMES AGAINST LATIN AMERICA

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF BRAZIL NEWS AGENCY 247)

 

Hurricane Maria: The Forgotten Dying People Of Puerto Rico

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

‘We are the forgotten people’: It’s been almost six months since Hurricane Maria, and Puerto Ricans are still dying

Updated 10:32 PM ET, Thu March 15, 2018

Maunabo, Puerto Rico (CNN)Lourdes Rodriguez heard the scream early on the morning of January 6, before the sun rose and before the frogs began their chorus.

“Lourdes! Lourdes!”
She instantly recognized the voice of her father, Natalio Rodriguez Lebron, 77, a former nurse who cared for the mentally ill, people he believed society had forgotten.
She darted up the stairs.
Her father’s health had long been troubled. He had diabetes, lung disease, sleep apnea and congestive heart failure. And in the months since Hurricane Maria battered this coastal town, Lourdes watched his condition worsen. The sleep apnea machine he needed to help him breathe was useless for months because their hilltop neighborhood in Maunabo was entirely without electric power. In December, a business had donated a generator to power the machine at night, but the family struggled to afford the gasoline needed to keep it running.
As Lourdes reached the top of the stairs, she felt an uneasy stillness in the air. The sky was thick and black. No moon was visible. And the electric generator, a machine that sometimes rumbled like a car engine, had fallen eerily silent.
She swung open the living room door to find her father clutching his chest.
The machine was off. Her father appeared unable to breathe.
Natalio Rodriguez Lebron, center, is shown with his family.

Her mother, Julia “Miriam” Rodriguez, stayed with Natalio while Lourdes rushed to restart the generator, which had run out of gas, and repower the breathing machine. Her mother felt Natalio’s body go limp in her arms and then collapse to the floor, face down.
Frantic, they called 911 and tried to comfort him.
Waiting there on the floor, Julia Rodriguez told me, she felt a wind — a physical gust — leave her husband’s body and pass into her own. She said it was as if the decades they’d spent together — the moves from Puerto Rico to the mainland and back; the hours they both worked as nurses; the three children they raised — hovered in the room, a tangible, living thing, and then became part of her.
Julia Rodriguez knew then that her husband might not survive.
All these months later, it seemed the storm may have won.

* * * * *

It’s been nearly six months since Hurricane Maria.
Its howling winds, which topped 150 mph, long have dissipated. The storm that battered Puerto Rico on September 20 before hooking northward into the Atlantic is a memory.
Yet, in this US commonwealth, people are still dying in Maria’s wake.
That’s especially true of those who lack basic services like electricity.
Rodriguez died on January 6. In addition to his death, CNN identified five people who died in 2018 from causes that friends, family, doctors or funeral home directors consider to be related to Hurricane Maria and its aftermath.
It’s not possible to say with 100% certainty that a death this long after a storm was “caused” by Hurricane Maria, experts told me. But that’s beside the point. These deaths show dangerous conditions persist in Puerto Rico.
I spent several days in Maunabo, Rodriguez’s town on the southeast coast, and other areas without power, to try to understand how communities are faring all these months later.
Maunabo, Puerto Rico, is still off the grid almost six months after Maria, the mayor tells CNN.

I had been to Puerto Rico several times since the storm, reporting for CNN on topics from uncounted deaths to water outages and an “exodus” to the US mainland. In December, I drove the entire path the eye of the storm took across the island. On that route, I met a woman whose clock was stopped at 3:27 — the moment the hurricane swept through. Puerto Rico, it seemed, was an island frozen in time, doomed to relive that day again and again.
Would that still be the case after six months?
Metrics on the response to Hurricane Maria told me that might be the case, at least for some residents. So, too, did academics and others who study how we respond to hurricanes.
Puerto Rico, some of these experts said, appears to be stuck between the “emergency” and “recovery” phases of disaster response. Typically, in the United States, the emergency phase — in which people lack necessities like food, water, shelter and power — lasts for days or, at most, a few weeks, said Lori Peek, director of the Natural Hazards Center at the University of Colorado Boulder. Then comes recovery, when residents, government agencies and others start to rebuild.
“Here we are months after this storm and we are debating if we should still be sending these emergency — really emergency, and life sustaining — supports, or (should we) transition into this recovery process,” Peek said. “That is just truly breathtaking.”
It’s true that progress has been made. Tourists are coming back to San Juan, and parts of the city are humming. Casinos are open in ritzy Condado and the bomba dancers are back in Río Piedras. A month after Maria, roughly 1 million of the 3.3 million American citizens here remained without running water service. Now, nearly everyone has it.
In late December, only about a third of temporary roof requests had been met by the US Army Corps of Engineers, leaving some people sleeping in homes where it rained inside at night. Months later, nearly all those requests for professionally installed tarps have been fulfilled. Formal shelters for hurricane victims are now empty, according to federal officials.
Yet inequities remain, especially when it comes to electricity.
As of March 7, more than 10% of electric customers in Puerto Rico were still without power, according to figures reported to the US Department of Energy by the local utility. Maybe that sounds small — but it represents nearly 156,000 customers, and likely more than that number of people, since the average Puerto Rican household is about three individuals.
Also consider that figure in the context of other recent storms.
Hurricane Harvey hit the Gulf Coast of Texas on August 25. The next day, an estimated 304,000 customers were without power — yet all but about 2,600 had electricity restored in 19 days, according to data provided to CNN by the Public Utility Commission of Texas. Florida after Hurricane Irma? That storm left an estimated 6.2 million customers in Florida without electricity on September 11, according to the Florida Public Service Commission, which, like the commission in Texas, collects data from electric utilities. In a little more than two weeks, virtually all power was back.
These comparisons are, of course, imprecise. No two storms are the same in terms of intensity, needs or geography. Puerto Rico is an island and, as federal officials have said repeatedly since the storm, you can’t just drive in supplies from another state. Communications systems were down and many roads were impassible in the first weeks after the storm. The island’s power grid also was in lousy shape, by many accounts, before Hurricane Maria. Comparing that grid to Florida’s, which is the gold standard for preparedness, is somewhat unfair, said Seth Guikema, an associate professor of engineering at the University of Michigan, who studies grids and disaster response. After Hurricane Andrew in 1992, he said, some Florida utilities built concrete posts and took other measures to ensure power could be restored faster after storms.
The US Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, which oversees disaster recovery, says it is doing everything possible to ensure basic services are restored to Puerto Rico.
Michael Byrne, FEMA’s federal coordinating officer for Puerto Rico, told me in an interview that Puerto Rico’s unique logistical challenges fully explain the delays. No other US disaster has presented these unique and difficult circumstances, he said, which meant FEMA had to invent a strategy for how to respond to the crisis. The unique situation here also makes comparisons between the response to Maria and responses to other storms problematic, he said.
If storm-related deaths are continuing, he said, his heart goes out to affected families. “The initial reaction is the reaction anyone would have: I’m sorry to hear that. Truly. One of the things that you don’t stop being, no matter your job, is a human being.” There are programs, he added, to help bring generators and financial assistance to storm victims, especially those who are in vital need of medical services.
The US Army Corps and FEMA say logistical issues -- including Puerto Rico's remote location -- explain power-restoration delays.

In a statement emailed to CNN this week, the US Army Corps of Engineers, which is helping with power restoration, said back-to-back 2017 disasters, the remoteness of the island and the fact that some supplies had to be manufactured for installation in Puerto Rico, slowed down work on the electric system. “Helicopters have been used to airlift poles, materials and people into remote locations to perform repair work,” the Corps said.
Yet these explanations matter little to many of those who have been living without electricity for nearly six months, and have gone without running water for much of that time.
They know another truth: The longer the wait, the more a person is at risk.

* * * * *

The family legend goes like this: The first of Natalio Rodriguez’s ancestors to arrive in Maunabo was hidden in a barrel aboard a ship from Africa. He may have arrived as a free man, they said. This much is sure: Rodriguez roots travel deep into this fertile soil. The family has been here as long as anyone can remember.
By the time Natalio Rodriguez was born in December 1940, the 11th of 12 children, much had changed in Puerto Rico — and yet little had, as well. Rodriguez grew up helping his father, Juan Ines Rodriguez Monclova, work the verdant sugar cane fields behind their home on the side of a shark-tooth mountain. This was the work of his ancestors, too. The Spanish enslaved Africans and, before that, indigenous Taino people — who gave Maunabo its name — to work in that industry.
Natalio Rodriguez and his neighbors had all those stories coursing through their veins. His original ancestor in Maunabo is said to have married a Spanish woman, which is how relatives explain the fact that some of their cousins and aunts have bright blue or green eyes, while Natalio’s and Lourdes’ eyes and skin carry the deep hues of espresso and midnight.
Lourdes Rodriguez, right, with her two children and mother, Julia "Miriam" Rodriguez.

When Rodriguez was a boy, slavery had long been abolished, of course; and the Spanish had been kicked out of Puerto Rico by a new colonial power: the United States. The US, which occupied Puerto Rico in 1898 after the Spanish-American War, granted Puerto Ricans citizenship about two decades before Rodriguez’s birth. Still, his family members and neighbors couldn’t elect their own governor until 1948. Even today, Puerto Ricans, while subject to US laws and given US aid, can’t vote for president or elect full, voting members of Congress.
Despite all that, young Rodriguez remained enchanted by American culture.
He loved Western movies and books and grew up galloping the family’s horses down from the mountains and into the valley, which was home to the town square, not far from a lighthouse and the radiant turquoise coast. His childhood nickname was “Hormiguero,” Spanish for anthill, his longtime friend, Damian Lopez, 70, told me. I laughed and asked about the origin of that name. The kid was something of a living verb, Lopez said — always moving, never still.
That restlessness would take him places his father never saw.
Some of Rodriguez’s older brothers enlisted in the US military (one lost part of his hand in the Korean War, according to Julia Rodriguez) and, as a teenager, Natalio Rodriguez tried to do the same. Unable to join the service because of a heart arrhythmia, according to his wife, he found other ways to follow in their footsteps. After one brother moved to New York — bringing home exotic northeastern foods like cod, cherries and white grapes to a family that grew avocado, grapefruit and oranges — Rodriguez decided, after high school, to move there, too. He would become a big man like his dad — 5-foot-9 and 300 pounds — and not averse to physical labor. But he began to resent helping in the sugar fields. Maunabo was, and is, desperately poor. (Fifty-six percent live below the poverty line, according to the US Census Bureau). Some of his relatives still plowed up their fields with bulls tied to oxcarts. The brother who moved away seemed so much happier, and so much richer. In the United States, Rodriguez thought, he’d have a better life, too.
So, in his late teens, Rodriguez boarded a plane for New York.
“Right after getting out of the cab, he stepped on a pile of dog s—.”
Natalio loved to tell this story, his wife, Julia, said.
“He’d go, like, ‘Wow, so this is how you all live here, dodging piles of poop in the streets!?'”
Maunabo, located in southeast Puerto Rico, is home to 11,500 people.

Julia Rodriguez grew up in Maunabo, too, just up the hill from Natalio and his family. The couple raised three children together, primarily on the US mainland.
For him, the 50 states were a place of promise and of hope — a place of purpose and duty.
Still, strangely, that first New York impression — the muck on the street — stuck with him, too.
He never felt fully settled, his wife told me.
He yearned for home.
In 2009, he and Julia finally resettled in Maunabo.

* * * * *

“Look,” says Luis Lafuente, Maunabo’s vice-mayor.
He points at a perfectly circular hole extending from the roof of city hall.
“That’s where the clock used to be.”
It was busted by Hurricane Maria.
Crabbing and fishing are popular in Maunabo. The town hosts an annual crab festival.

Time hasn’t just stopped in this town, which is at the southeast corner of Puerto Rico, near where Maria delivered its first punches. After the storm, it’s almost irrelevant. On this day, March 9, Lafuente tells me exactly 0% of the area’s 11,500 residents have been reconnected to the electric grid — the same as the day Hurricane Maria struck. Between 35% and 50% of residents do have electricity, he said, from three emergency generators installed on December 23 by the US government. But those generators are prone to failure, he said, and don’t reach mountain communities. (The Army Corps said the alleged “failures” result from generator switch-overs, not from problems with the equipment. The Puerto Rican power authority — PREPA — told CNN 37% of customers in Maunabo had power as of March 13, but did not specify the source of that electricity.)
At dusk, those mountains turn to charcoal silhouettes. Few lights shine. Only the lucky and the wealthy can afford personal generators.
We drive Lafuente’s Jeep Renegade around the town where he’s spent his life. Parts of it are unrecognizable to him. Playgrounds are twisted. A truck barn turned to scrap metal. Power lines are draped over posts like wet noodles. Some electric posts are so off-kilter, they look like they’re doing pushups.
The hospital had to be relocated to another municipal building, which most recently had been home to emergency management workers and police. Those officers and workers, in turn, had to move into a public school that closed before the storm. The hospital still has a sign that says “Emergencia 24 Horas,” indicating the emergency room never closes. The reconfigured hospital, however, opens at 7 a.m. and closes at 11 p.m. Many of those who require emergency assistance earlier or later than that have to drive through an unlit mountain tunnel — it feels like something out of “The Walking Dead” — to seek medical help.
Maunabo’s five schools reopened in late November. But students leave class at 12:30 p.m. because there’s no power. A school principal I met told me she drives to other towns to make photocopies so students can take tests. Teachers assign very little homework, she says, because the students are so overwhelmed already.
We stop by the lighthouse, perhaps the most iconic site in Maunabo, to find that its searchlight and glass have been shattered by Maria. The Coast Guard hadn’t used it since the 1990s, anyway, according to Wanda Marín Rivera, board president of the town’s cultural center. But Lafuente and others had hoped tourism might revive the town, with the lighthouse as a destination, since sugar cane, plantains and crab fishing haven’t been providing stable work. (Maunabo became known as a hub for crab fishing. Crab images are stamped into the sidewalks and painted on walls; a crab statue sits in front of the baseball stadium, which was heavily damaged, and a smaller one perches on the mayor’s desk).
Despite the state of things, Lafuente says Maunabo will improve. Tourists will come. Industry will pick back up. Already, he says, crabbers are setting traps by flashlight at night.
“The people of Maunabo are very motivated and anxious to grow and make the town even better than it was before,” he tells me. “We will rise again. We are rising.”

* * * * *

At first, the mountain protected them.
The day Maria hit, Natalio Rodriguez huddled in a small bathroom with his wife, his daughter Lourdes, her two children, and, nearby, Natalio’s elderly sister. “We were crammed like tuna in a can,” Lourdes Rodriguez recalled. Water poured under the door. Natalio told everyone to stay calm, Lourdes told me. Meanwhile, she said, the house “shook like Jell-O.”
Still, they survived. Most of the house did, too. The hillside, which had raised so many of their ancestors and grown so many of their crops, sheltered them from the worst of it.
Julia Rodriguez has been without electric power service since Maria hit on September 20.

It was after Maria that the real danger began.
The power was out. Water, too. Food was scarce. For several days, the winding, steep-pitched road to their mountain home was blocked, Lourdes said. It was a week before she was able to wait in hourslong lines for gasoline and get her car to a hill in a neighboring city, Caguas, where she could call their many relatives on the mainland to say they had outlasted the hurricane. Communications systems in Maunabo remained essentially inoperable for months, she told me. Island-wide, according to Puerto Rico government data, only 25% of cell towers were functional by October 20.
It was in these isolated circumstances that Natalio Rodriguez’s medical conditions began to worsen. The labored breathing was especially troubling for his wife and daughter. The sleep apnea machine he used at night to get oxygen into his lungs wasn’t working without electricity. That meant he and his wife could not rest, much less sleep. He paced the house at night and walked the neighborhood by day. In desperation, the family made cardboard fans for him to use to try to move air around his face. No one thought it would help him breathe, really, but it was something.
“All of a sudden he became a quiet person. He was a talker. Pepito enjoyed long conversations,” Julia Rodriguez said, using Natalio’s family nickname. “He could spend hours and hours talking. But then (after the storm) he didn’t speak much.”
The family worried also about the insulin he used for diabetes. It required refrigeration. They had no working refrigerator without power. And ice was difficult to come by.
What they really needed, of course, was electricity.
On November 17, Maunabo plaza and city hall got power from a small generator — purchased for $35,000 by the municipality, according to the mayor, Jorge Márquez. From their home in the mountains, Lourdes Rodriguez said, the family could see a faint glow. It looked like the town downhill was on another planet.
About a month later, the family received a small power inverter, Lourdes Rodriguez said. It ran for only two or three hours before running out of fuel, she said.
A bigger generator was donated later, but the family had trouble affording the gasoline needed to run it, she told me. The fuel alone cost them $60 per week while her father was alive, Lourdes Rodriguez said. Plus, there were filters, oil and repairs.
When the machine was on, they said, Natalio calmed some.
But they could not keep it going.

* * * * *

Some of them died during the storm.
A mudslide in Utuado, Puerto Rico, killed two “bedridden” sisters. Another person drowned in Toa Baja. But the aftermath of Hurricane Maria appears to have been most deadly.
Hurricane debris is piled up at a temporary dump in March in Maunabo.

More than 1,000 “excess deaths” occurred after the storm, in September and October 2017, than during the same timeframe in 2016 and 2015, according to Alexis Santos, a professor at Penn State University who analyzed Puerto Rican government mortality statistics.
That doesn’t tell you 1,000 people certainly died directly because of Hurricane Maria. But it does indicate an unusual number of people were dying — and well into October.
The only difference, Santos said, was the hurricane.
In November, I put together a CNN team to survey the funeral homes in Puerto Rico. We were only able to reach about half, but those directors and other staff members told us they had seen at least 499 deaths they considered to be hurricane related, based primarily on their conversations with family members. We then documented the deaths of several uncounted people who died in the weeks after the hurricane, not only the day the storm hit. They included an older man in Cayey who died in a fire set by a lantern he wouldn’t have been using if he’d had electricity; a man in Canóvanas who committed suicide in the storm’s aftermath; and a woman in Corozal who lacked access to medical treatment. (Two deaths we highlighted were later added to the Puerto Rico government’s list of official hurricane-related deaths).
Still, I didn’t expect deaths would continue into 2018.
It’s impossible to use statistics to prove that they are, because the Puerto Rican Demographic Registry has not released data for this year. (CNN and Puerto Rico’s Centro de Periodismo Investigativo are suing that agency for access to death records). Trends suggest the aggregate loss of life in Puerto Rico is slowing and may have normalized, Santos told me.
Still, I was able to document several deaths that occurred this year and appear related to Maria’s frantic aftermath.
Several of the deaths I researched occurred in Maunabo.
Braulio Salinas Santiago, 71, died of an apparent heart attack in the parking lot of Maunabo’s makeshift hospital on January 18, according to his wife, Margarita Baerga Diaz. It was about 5 a.m., she said, before the hospital, which operated 24-7 before the hurricane, had opened.
Similarly, Fulgencio Velazquez Chevalier died on February 20 in the car of his wife, Litza Rodriguez Figueroa. The 50-year-old suffered depression and intense anxiety after the storm, according to Rodriguez Figueroa, who is a nurse. She believes that stress, along with a related increased smoking, contributed to her husband’s cardiac arrest. When she drove by the closed Maunabo hospital, she told me, Velazquez was still alive.
Carmen Rodriguez Martinez died on January 25 at age 71.
Her doctor, Arturo Torres Borges, wrote two words on the death certificate in a spot reserved for circumstances that may have contributed to the death: “Huracán Maria.”
The causes of death included respiratory failure and heart disease.
Héctor Pedraza, left, lost his mother -- Herminio Trinidad's wife -- when she died in February in the aftermath of Maria.

Rodriguez Martinez required an oxygen machine to breathe, according to her daughter, Iris Janette de Jesus Rodriguez, 54. They still didn’t have electricity from the grid when I visited in late February. A generator hadn’t been enough, she said.
In Corozal, farther into the mountains, Victor Manuel Belen Santiago wept as he told me that his mother, Zoraida Santiago Torres, 58, had saved his life by helping him kick drug addiction.
Their home was destroyed by the storm, and Belen Santiago rebuilt it by hand, puzzling scraps of the roof and walls together like a reassembled house of cards. But he couldn’t restore the power his mother needed to run an oxygen machine. She died on February 13, he said, after getting fluid in her lungs that could not be cleared. Her death certificate lists organ failure and a bacterial infection among the causes of death, along with chronic liver disease.
After the loss, Belen Santiago said he contemplated suicide.
His beloved mother was gone. He had no job — no prospect for a job after the debt crisis, which struck Puerto Rico before the hurricane. It was unclear if life ever would feel safe again.
“We are the forgotten people,” he said. “It’s like we don’t exist.”

* * * * *

The morning of January 5 started like so many others, with a tap-tap-tap of her father’s cane on the second-story patio — Natalio Rodriguez’s way of waking his daughter up for the day.
Lourdes Rodriguez rolled her eyes playfully and walked upstairs to see what he wanted this time. She and her two children, ages 13 and 8, had been sleeping on twin beds in a room downstairs since the storm. The roof of a new home they had been building was torn off by Maria.
She would awake to her father’s screams the following night, but this day now occupies a different territory in her memory. She considers it one of the best days of her life.
Her father seemed so healthy, so alive.
He wanted to go everywhere that day, see everything. He carried his cane with him while visiting his sister, a nun, in Ponce, a city on the south coast. But he kept it in his elbow crease — more ornament than crutch. At an ice cream shop, he pretended to be a clueless American tourist — using affected Spanish, asking to see tourist attractions on the other side of the island. The store’s workers laughed when he broke the gag, Lourdes Rodriguez said. He ordered his favorite flavor: passion fruit with pineapple. That night, they ate seafood at a restaurant near the beach.
In March, power lines were still twisted and broken in southeastern Puerto Rico.

Now, Lourdes Rodriguez wonders why that day was different.
Maybe it was the upcoming holiday? January 6 is Three Kings Day in Puerto Rico, or Epiphany, when Christians commemorate the arrival of wise men visiting the infant Jesus.
Her father had been talking about it for some time, telling her children to prepare their best clothes (the truth was that most of their clothing had been donated after the storm) so they could go to a pig roast in a neighboring community. In years past, they’d gathered up guitars, pots and sticks and gone caroling up and down the hillside — a Puerto Rican parranda — growing the party as they visited one house and then the next, offering food and drinks and collecting stories.
Maybe he was living in anticipation of that day?
Or maybe this day was his way of saying goodbye.

* * * * *

What’s taking so long?
That question nagged at me as I reported on Puerto Rico’s ongoing electrical outages. And it’s a question that clearly haunts many Puerto Ricans.
Experts offered some theories.
“They’re Americans but they’re not represented in Congress,” said Dr. Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University in New York. That means there are few political repercussions for a botched disaster response, he said, and few advocates for funding. “It really gets down to money and poverty and politics.”
“It’s unconscionable and unreasonable that it has taken so long” to restore power, he said. “You have to ask yourself, ‘why is that?’ It’s money and politics, the common denominator for so many things. … Can you imagine no (electric) power in Beaumont or Port Arthur or Rockport, Texas, for this amount of time? I don’t care what kind of disaster it was. You would never see this.”
Byrne, the FEMA official, said this disaster has been adequately funded and the federal government is responding to the crisis in Puerto Rico in the same way it would in the 50 states. “We’re not leaving,” he said. “We’re here until we take care of all of the requirements that are needed.”
As of March 15, FEMA had spent $1.1 billion in Puerto Rico; $1.6 billion in Texas; and $993 million in Florida for individual assistance following the fall 2017 hurricanes. “That’s the initial, quickest payment to individual citizens for immediate needs, but the real cost is in long-term recovery dollars for infrastructure projects, like buildings, roads and other public facilities,” which is not included in those figures, said Chris Currie, director of emergency management issues at the US Government Accountability Office.
Congressional appropriations for disaster response and recovery in recent months are not always itemized by storm, he said, making it difficult to say which hurricanes ultimately will be given the most federal funding. An estimated $23.2 billion has been appropriated specifically for Puerto Rico, according to The Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College in New York.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimates Maria caused $90 billion in damages; Harvey, $125 billion; and Irma, $50 billion.
Regardless of financing, the relative slowness of the recovery in Puerto Rico is seen by some people here as dehumanizing.
Life is returning to parts of San Juan, the capital, but hurricane damage remains.

In a way, Maria has revealed the ugly colonial relationship between the island and the United States, said Silvia Álvarez Curbelo, a historian and director of the research center at the University of Puerto Rico’s school of communications.
“This raw nerve of colonialism comes creeping in in every conversation” these days, she told me. “It’s this feeling of subordination. The people — common people — have no way (to respond) except to wait. Wait for this letter. Wait to see if FEMA comes to town. Wait to see if the federal government comes (though) with the money they told us they would give us for recovery.”
Such frustrations reached a boiling point in the past.
There were plenty of other factors at play, but Spain’s failure to address a humanitarian and economic crisis after an 1867 hurricane in Puerto Rico “provided the context for the first political movement for independence on the island,” Stuart Schwartz, a Yale history professor, writes in “Sea of Storms.”
The uprising, however, was “crushed immediately,” said Álvarez Curbelo, from the University of Puerto Rico. Nothing like that ever would be tried today, she said. While Puerto Ricans have worked hard to create a national cultural identity, and while the idea of independence was popular decades ago, few Puerto Ricans in recent years have supported political independence from the United States, according to Florida International University anthropologist Jorge Duany.
If anything, Álvarez Curbelo expects Puerto Rico to sink further into “political paralysis” and become more US-dependent after Maria.
She doesn’t see the United States granting Puerto Rico full rights as the 51st state, a move that likely would require the approval of Congress. Remember, she said, this storm follows a massive debt crisis in which the island’s government declared bankruptcy. What does Puerto Rico have to offer the United States now? A fiscal oversight board, appointed by the US President, is steering austerity measures. Meanwhile, Puerto Ricans have been taught, generation after generation, she said, to believe that they cannot survive without the help of a colonial power.
“I’m not a pessimistic person,” she told me. “I’m a historian. I tend to be sober. I watch the long trends. But I don’t see the light — in the total sense of the word ‘light.’ The thing about power is it’s a metaphor for the island. The fragility of the energy system — of the power system — is the perfect metaphor for our condition: The light comes and goes. There is no sense of future.”

* * * * *

The ambulance arrived at 2:18 a.m. on January 6, records show.
It was too late.
Natalio Rodriguez Lebron died at 1:23 a.m.
According to the death certificate, Rodriguez’s death was caused by chronic lung disease, hypertension and diabetes. In the notes on that document, a doctor from the Puerto Rico Bureau of Forensic Sciences also mentioned that he was a smoker and obese.
That bureau, in San Juan, is the only laboratory in Puerto Rico authorized to classify deaths as hurricane-related. In the months after Maria, the office has come under criticism, including from CNN, for possibly missing dozens if not hundreds of “indirect” hurricane deaths.
The US government installed three emergency generators in Maunabo to try to re-electrify the town.

The official death toll has stood at 64 since early December.
In February, Gov. Ricardo Rosselló announced Puerto Rico had enlisted the help of George Washington University to study the mortality that followed Hurricane Maria. That analysis, due out in coming months, will focus on deaths from September through February.
To date, Natalio Rodriguez’s death has not been classified as hurricane-related. Puerto Rico’s Department of Public Safety, which oversees the forensics bureau, did not respond to repeat requests for comment on his death and others in this story.
Rodriguez’s family believes his death was related to Hurricane Maria. His doctor, Pedro Lopez Lopez, shares that view. Rodriguez’s health deteriorated in the conditions Maria left behind, he told me. He saw Natalio about two weeks before his death; and he was “stable” then, he said.
The body was not delivered to the forensics office until 2:38 the following afternoon, a time that forensics documents confirm. By afternoon, the body had started to decompose. The family was told it would be impossible to have an open-casket service, as is the norm in Puerto Rico.
The closed casket was the hardest part of the funeral, a longtime friend told me.
“It was terrible,” Damian Lopez said. “If you love someone, you’d like to see him for one last time.”
There was also the matter of the expense.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency manages a program that can cover some funeral expenses for eligible families after hurricanes. But those deaths typically must be certified as hurricane-related in order to qualify.
The Rodriguez family already put $4,000 toward his funeral, a receipt shows.
They still owe $1,115.
In December, FEMA did grant the family $4,000 for home repairs and $3,000 to replace household items that were damaged in Maria, Lourdes Rodriguez said. Julia Rodriguez told me friends and relatives tried to offer the family money after the storm but that her husband turned away the help. He was a proud person, she said, and generous. He also knew that everyone in the community was suffering.

* * * * *

People will keep dying until power is restored.
That’s the stark assessment Arturo Torres Borges shared with my colleagues Leyla Santiago and Khushbu Shah, who tipped me off to the possibility of continued deaths in Maunabo. Torres is the medical doctor who wrote “Huracán Maria” on the death certificate of a local woman.
Natalio Rodriguez’s doctor puts it this way: “This is a public health crisis.” I met plenty of people at risk in Maunabo.
Some are so sick of the situation they try to laugh it off.
Zoraida Santiago Torres, 58, died February 13. Her family members believe a lack of electric power contributed to her death.

Across the street from Litza Rodriguez Figueroa, whose husband died in February, lives Ana Ramos Davila, a 74-year-old who will insist you drink her bottled water and then ask if you have any cute gringo friends who would drink Coors Light and play dominoes with her.
That’s the dream! she said — gringos, Coors and dominoes.
Post-Maria has included little of that.
“Christ! When is this going to be over?” she said of the storm. “I’ve spent $100 or more just on bags of ice” to try to keep food cool without power. “No one is helping me, my dear.”
“I already told my psychologist if you get a call that I took my life, don’t be amazed,” she said, serious. “I’m so tired of this — looking for supplies, finding water, lighting candles. I’m so tired.”
A few houses up the street, I met David Torres and Juanita Guzman, who were having their home repainted. Torres showed me a breathing machine he’s supposed to use at night but doesn’t, he said, because it requires a steady power source and could short circuit without one. He has a small generator — “I use it to turn on one light and one fan; if I turn on the light, I have to turn off the fan.” It doesn’t provide steady enough power to run the machine, he said.
“I need my oxygen mask. One of these days my wife is going to wake up and find me dead by her side,” he said. “She told me that in the night she hears me having trouble breathing.”
“If it’s my time to die, I’ll die,” he said, laughing. “There’s nothing I can do.”
Experts say post-storm stress and depression can be deadly.
Poverty exacerbates the risks, said Redlener, from Columbia University.
The way people interpret a disaster matters, too. If they believe the disaster is simply weather-related rather than manmade, they’re more likely to accept it, said Peek, from the University of Colorado. What she fears is that Puerto Ricans are struggling because of the human response to the hurricane.
“It’s like the despair effect,” she said. “People who feel forgotten and neglected — they may suffer negative mental health effects.”
Up the hill from the Rodriguez family live Miguel Amaro Leon, 79, and Maria Morales Ortiz, 76. They welcomed me onto their outdoor patio just as the sun was setting. A generator roared behind our conversation as they told me how hard it’s been to keep the thing running.
“It’s been really difficult because we have to pay for the gas,” Amaro Leon said. “We only use the generator three or four hours daily. If not, we would have to spend more money.”
Can they keep their insulin cold?
“More or less.”
“We try to eat food that doesn’t need to be in the refrigerator.”
As we talked, the generator ran out of gas.
Frogs chirped in the night.
“Things are getting better little by little,” Amaro Leon said. “We just need power.”

* * * * *

On my last evening in Maunabo, Lourdes Rodriguez took me to see her father’s grave. It’s in a cemetery in the valley, not far from the town plaza. Looking across the property, you can see the foggy mountains in the distance where so many of Lourdes’ relatives cut sugar cane and plowed the earth, first under the rule of the Spanish and now the United States commonwealth.
Natalio "Pepito" Rodriguez Lebron died on January 6.

Tears streamed down her cheeks.
Her father’s family nickname — “Pepito” — was written by hand in wet cement.
The family hasn’t been able to pay for a headstone.
“I can’t fix it,” she said, sobbing. “It’s hard for me to see it that way.”
Álvarez Curbelo, the professor at the University of Puerto Rico, told me earlier that she wished Hurricane Maria’s dead could speak. That way they would not be ignored.
I asked Lourdes what she thought her father would say if he could talk with us now.
“He would tell us to keep calm,” she said, somber. “That was always his saying: ‘Take it one day at a time.’ Don’t think about the next week or the next month.
“Take it one day at a time.”

OUTRAGEOUS: More than 1,000 deaths after Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, 86 in Texas after Harvey

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF DAILY KOS.COM)

 

UTUADO, PUERTO RICO - OCTOBER 05: Daniel Braithwaite prepares to catch a box of M.R.E.'s as helps U.S. Army 1st Special Forces Command soldiers as they deliver food and water to people after Hurricane Maria swept through the island on October 5, 2017 in Utuado, Puerto Rico. The neighborhood was cut off from help for about 2 weeks and there is still a need for basic life necessities after the category 4 hurricane, passed through. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Over 1,000 (one thousand!) people have died in Puerto Rico (above the average death rate) in the first three months after Hurricane Maria (through November).  So far we only have data for the first three months—September, October and November.   There is no information on the causes of death so far but Puerto Rico’s Center for Investigative Journalism has sued the government for the cause of death data.

Even in November, the latest month for which we have data,  there were still 115 more deaths than usual.  Although we don’t yet know the causes of these deaths, is there any doubt that the government’s poor response to the devastation played a major role?  The lack of shelter, drinking water, food, electricity and adequate medical care, I’m sure have all played a roll.  The “official” death toll of course has stayed at 62.

Keep in mind that these deaths, over and above the usual number of deaths for the time of year, occurred even though the population was shrinking due to outmigration to the mainland.

The total number of deaths above average in September, October and November was 1,230, according to Alexis Santos, a demographer at Pennsylvania State University who obtained the data from the Puerto Rico Institute of Statistics and conducted an analysis that he released to the Los Angeles Times this week.

Element removed

Of those deaths, 491 occurred in September and 584 in October — figures very close to estimates Santos published late last year based on more limited data.

The new analysis shows the higher death rate continued into November, the most recent month for which he obtained figures, with 155 more than average

www.latimes.com/…

Keep in mind that these death “overages” occurred despite the overall shrinking of the population.

@#$&*%#$&*

In Texas meanwhile, with a much larger population,

Hurricane Harvey, for example, killed about 60 people in the Houston area and then another 26 due to “unsafe or unhealthy conditions” related to the loss or disruption of services such as utilities, transportation and medical care. Nobody was still dying a month later.

www.motherjones.com/…

Is this any way to treat US citizens?!?

This administration has blood on its hands!

These ‘Shithole Countries’ Have a Message for President Trump

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME NEWS AND THE WASHINGTON POST)

(DONALD IS ‘THE SHITHOLE’ IN CHIEF)

 

By NASH JENKINS

Updated: January 12, 2018 11:45 AM ET

President Donald Trump reportedly singled out Haiti, El Salvador and parts of Africa as “shithole countries” during a rant about immigration Thursday. Those places aren’t happy

Trump’s comments came during a meeting with lawmakers at the White House held to reach a bipartisan immigration deal, according to the Washington Postwhich broke the news. Sources familiar with the meeting told the Post that the president was amenable to more immigrants from Norway and Asia, whom he says help the country economically, but wondered aloud “why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?”

According to the Post, Trump also said, “Why do we need more Haitians? Take them out.”

On Friday morning Trump posted a series of tweets about the immigration deal in which he appeared to deny he said “shithole countries.”

“The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used. What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made – a big setback for DACA!” he wrote.

In a second tweet, sent around two hours after the first, Trump said that he “never said anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country” and that he never uttered the phrase “take them out.”

Trump also claimed that the accusation was “made up” by members of the Democratic Party. “I have a wonderful relationship with Haitians,” he added. “Probably should record future meetings – unfortunately, no trust!”

However, the White House on Thursday did not deny the Post’s report about Trump’s language.

A spokesman for the United Nations said Friday that Trump’s reported words were racist.

“There is no other word one can use but ‘racist’… This isn’t just a story about vulgar language, it’s about opening the door to humanity’s worst side, about validating and encouraging racism and xenophobia,” United Nations human rights spokesman Rupert Colville said. “You cannot dismiss entire countries and continents as ‘shitholes’, whose entire populations, who are not white, are therefore not welcome.”

Here’s how Trump’s alleged “shithole countries” are responding to the remarks:

Haiti

CBS News reports that the Haitian government promptly summoned charge d’affairs Robin Diallo, the top U.S. diplomat in the country, to respond to the comments.

Former Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe tweeted, “SHAME ON TRUMP! The world is witnessing a new low today with this #ShitholeNations remark! totally unacceptable! uncalled for moreover it shows a lack a respect and IGNORANCE never seen before in the recent history of the US by any President! Enough is enough!!”

The Haitian government said in a statement “these insulting and reprehensible statements in no way reflect the virtues of wisdom, restraint and discernment that must be cultivated by any high political authority,” according to the Associated Press, adding that the comment “reflects a totally erroneous and racist view of the Haitian community and its contribution to the United States.”

Other Haitians took to social media to share pictures of their nation’s beautiful beaches to make a point about the president’s alleged remarks.

El Salvador

Hugo Martinez, El Salvador’s foreign minister, tweeted calling on the U.S. government to confirm or deny Trump’s statements. In subsequent tweets, he noted that a number of individuals who helped rebuild New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina were from El Salvador and saying that he “feels proud to be Salvadoran.”

Jean Manes, the U.S. envoy to El Salvador, tweeted that the United States “values the friendship and the relationship with the Salvadoran people.” Manes added that she has had “the privilege to travel around this beautiful country and meet thousands of Salvadorans,” and that it is “an honor” to live and work there.”

African Union

The African Union responded to the reported remarks by pointing out many Africans arrived in the U.S. as slaves.

“Given the historical reality of how many Africans arrived in the United States as slaves, this statement flies in the face of all accepted behavior and practice,” Ebba Kalondo, a spokesperson for the 55-nation African Union, told the Associated Press. “This is particularly surprising as the United States of America remains a global example of how migration gave birth to a nation built on strong values of diversity and opportunity.”

Leanne Manas, a news anchor for the South African Broadcasting Corporation, tweeted Friday morning, “Good morning from the greatest most beautiful “shithole country” in the world!!!”

Somali information minister Abdirahman Omar Osman told CNN, “If it’s real, it doesn’t need a response. Those comments do not deserve a response.”

Mmusi Maimane, the leader of South Africa’s opposition Democratic Alliance party, described Trump’s comments as “abhorrent” on Twitter. His tweet continued: “He confirms a patronizing view of Africa and promotes a racist agenda. Africa/U.S. relations will take strain from this, with a leader who has failed to reconcile humanity. The hatred of Obama’s roots now extends to an entire continent.”

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NRA Condemns U.S. Virgin Island Firearm Confiscation Plan

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NRA-ILA)

 

NRA Condemns U.S. Virgin Island Firearm Confiscation Plan

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 5, 2017

NRA Condemns U.S. Virgin Island Firearm Confiscation Plan

FAIRFAX, Va. – The National Rifle Association on Tuesday announced its strong opposition to the order signed by U.S. Virgin Islands Governor Kenneth Mapp allowing the government to seize personal firearms and ammunition ahead of Hurricane Irma. The NRA is prepared to engage the legal system to halt the unconstitutional order. 

“People need the ability to protect themselves during times of natural disaster,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director, National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action. “This dangerous order violates the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens and puts their lives at risk.” 

After Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin instituted a similar order and began confiscating legally owned and possessed firearms. The NRA intervened in federal court and was able to halt the confiscations and obtain an order requiring the return of the seized firearms. The organization then backed federal legislation to prohibit the confiscation of legal firearms from law-abiding citizens during states of emergency. In 2006, President George W. Bush signed this legislation into law.  

“When 911 is non-existent and law enforcement personnel are overwhelmed with search-and-rescue missions and other emergency duties, law-abiding American citizens must be able to protect their families and loved ones. The NRA is prepared to pursue legal action to halt Gov. Mapp’s dangerous and unconstitutional order,” concluded Cox.


Established in 1871, the National Rifle Association is America’s oldest civil rights and sportsmen’s group. More than five million members strong, NRA continues to uphold the Second Amendment and advocates enforcement of existing laws against violent offenders to reduce crime. The Association remains the nation’s leader in firearm education and training for law-abiding gun owners, law enforcement, and the armed services. Be sure to follow the NRA on Facebook at NRA on Facebook and Twitter @NRA.

 

Puerto Rico in the Last 24 Hours (PHOTOS)-(Everything Is Great Mr. Trump)

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WEATHER CHANNEL)

 

Puerto Rico in the Last 24 Hours (PHOTOS)

Oct 20 2017 12:00 AM EDT
weather.com

A home in the village of Juncos, Puerto Rico, is damaged on Thursday, October 19, 2017, as if the storm has just passed. (Teresa Canino/GFR Media/AP Photo)

A month after Hurricane Maria made its catastrophic landfall in Puerto Rico, 1 million Americans are still without running water, and 3 million are without power. The U.S. territory has reported 48 deaths, but some sources say the death toll could be as high as 450. The destruction in many locations looks as if the storm has just occurred.

Below are images of how Puerto Rico looked in the last 24 hours, four weeks after the Category 4 storm slammed into the island.

A man bathes with water funneled with pipes from a mountain stream, after filling barrels of water for his home, nearly one month after Hurricane Maria struck on October 19, 2017 in Utuado, Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico is suffering shortages of food and water in areas with only 21.6 percent of grid electricity and 71.58 percent of running water restored. Puerto Rico experienced widespread damage including most of the electrical, gas and water grid as well as agriculture after Hurricane Maria, a category 4 hurricane, swept through. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Mourners carry the casket of Wilfredo Torres Rivera, 58, who died October 13 after jumping off a bridge into a lake, three weeks after Hurricane Maria, on October 19, 2017 in Utuado, Puerto Rico. Utuado was one of the hardest hit areas on the island and remains largely without grid electricity or running water. Wilfredo’s family said he suffered from depression and schizophrenia and was caring for his 92-year-old mother in a home without electricity or water in the aftermath of Maria. They believe he did not have the mental and emotional tools to manage the challenges of the storm’s aftermath. The family was concerned and brought Wilfredo to a doctor shortly before his death but they say he was not provided with adequate care or counseling. While the government has ruled his death a suicide, the family believes his death should be classified as a death caused by Hurricane Maria. The official death toll of Hurricane Maria is 48 yet critics believe the actual death toll may be far higher. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Antonio Bonilla, a 60 year old resident of the neighborhood of La Hormiga in Juncos, Puerto Rico, walks among the damage on Thursday, October 19, 2017. (Teresa Canino/GFR Media/AP Photo)

Mother Anais Rivera (right) stands with her three children as a friend (left) assists as they bathe and wash clothes with water funneled from a mountain stream, nearly one month after Hurricane Maria struck, on October 19, 2017 in Utuado, Puerto Rico. Rivera said they have no running water or electricity in their home and she visits the location to bathe, wash clothes and collect water for use at home. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

A supermarket is void of any supplies in the Puerto Rican capital of San Juan, on Thursday, October 19, 2017. (Instagram/@lleillei)

Damaged and abandoned belongings pile up along a road in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, on Thursday, October 19, 2017. (Twitter/@camillecardona4)

Debris remains outside a home in Comerío, Puerto Rico, a month after Hurricane Maria. (Instagram/@tarasummers)

Jerry Cruz Calderón is photographed in his home in the sector La Cuesta in Junco, Puerto Rico, on October 19, 2017, a month after Hurricane Maria hit the island. (Teresa Canino/GFR Media/AP Photo)

 

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.

Energy Company In Hot Water After Trump-Like Twitter Spat With a Puerto Rico Mayor

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME.COM)

 

This Energy Company Is In Hot Water After a Trump-Like Twitter Spat With a Puerto Rico Mayor

12:01 PM ET

Looking at President Trump, you might think the rules of politics have changed. After Hurricane Maria, he attacked the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, saying she had shown “poor leadership” and was only criticizing federal aid efforts because she’d been told to by Democrats.

…Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help. They….

The tweet did not go over well — by one measure, it was the third least-popular tweet of his presidency. But Trump never backed down, continuing his attacks on the mayor and other “politically motivated ingrates” until the news cycle had moved on.

One energy company has learned that the old rules still apply, however.

After San Juan Mayor Cermen Yulín Cruz asked for more transparency on Whitefish Energy, a small company based in Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s hometown that received a $300 million contract to restore power to the island, it fought back — on Twitter.

First, the company said that it shared her frustrations with the slow pace of progress but felt her comments were “misplaced.” Yulín Cruz then responded, tweetingthat she is not the only person who has raised questions.

“What is it about women having an opinion that irritates some?” she wrote.

The company fired back: “We’ve got 44 linemen rebuilding power lines in your city & 40 more men just arrived. Do you want us to send them back or keep working?”

This exchange was so Trumpy the President himself could have drafted it. Facing criticism, the company doubled down, a common strategy for the commander in chief. When a question was raised about sexism, it responded by using variants on the word “men” twice.

And that’s where the comparison with Trump ends. After the company faced a barrage of criticism, the governor of Puerto Rico asked an inspector general to look into how it got the contract and said there would be “hell to pay.” Congressional Democrats sent their own letter.

“Whitefish is primarily financed by a private equity firm that is run by a contributor to the presidential campaign of Donald Trump. We’re concerned that Whitefish might have overstated its connections with the Trump administration to obtain the contract,” eight Democratic lawmakers wrote in another letter to the Interior Department’s inspector general.

A copy of the company’s contract leaked which appeared to show that the government cannot audit the company’s labor costs or profits.

$332.41 per person for accommodations *each day*

$79.82 per person for food *each day* pic.twitter.com/jX51fRDZWf

Whitefish contract states, “In no event shall [government bodies] have the right to audit or review the cost and profit elements.” Wow. pic.twitter.com/dIyQXb6AK0

View image on Twitter

The Federal Emergency Management Administration even weighed in, saying after an initial review it “has not confirmed whether the contract prices are reasonable.”

In short, following Trump’s playbook has already landed Whitefish in a lot of hot water, and things are just getting started, which is why the company has already done the least Trumpy thing possible: It apologized.

Trump may get away with attacking, tweeting, doubling down and never apologizing. But he’s the President, and barring any unlikely scenarios, he’s in office through January of 2021 at least. Everyone else in politics — especially companies with contracts at stake — is still bound by the old rules.

It Is Time To Totally Rebuild Puerto Rico’s Infrastructure Right Now

It Is Time To Rebuild Puerto Rico’s Infrastructure Right Now

 

Okay America, Okay politicians in D.C. it is time to step up and do the right thing for a group of 3.3 million poor American citizens who happen to call the Island of Puerto Rico home. If you check into the rebuild in the much more affluent rich folks playground of the American Virgin Islands you will notice they are well ahead in the cleanup efforts being conducted in Puerto Rico.

 

One of the issues that Donald Trump ran for President on was that he was going to invest in and fix Americas crumbling infrastructure. Fixing our nationally crumbling infrastructure is a great way to create good paying jobs plus gives the people a more viable secure living condition. Right now, President Trump needs to live up to his campaign promises on this issue. Now is not the time to put in some straggled patch work projects in Puerto Rico, now is the time to rebuild it into a quality place for human beings to work and live within. Hurricane Maria plowed the fields of the old, it is now, right now, time to invest the 95 Billion or so odd dollars that the ‘professionals’ say it will take to fix what is broken. So, Mr. Trump, stop Tweeting, shut the hell up and just do your job. Fix what has been broken under your watch. You campaigned on infrastructure rebuilding, you did not say you only wanted to rebuild the neighborhoods of your personal friends on the American tax payers dime. But then again we the people have become quite accustomed to you being an habitual liar. Just like the other trash in your personal swamp.

AIWA! NO! Then press~~

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