Tuesday August 11, 2020

Editorial: Is Puerto Rico Getting Any Real Help at All?
Posted by Steve Juon at Monday, October 30th, 2017 at 10:00PM :: Email this article :: Print this article

Editorial courtesy of Steve 'Flash' Juon.

[Puerto Rico courtesy Wikimedia Commons]Last month Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico with devastating consequences. 50 people died as a direct result of the storm itself, and nearly the entire electrical grid in the territory was wiped out, which continues to have ripple effects for people who need access to hospitals, medical equipment requiring electricity, or even refrigerated food or medicine. The toll of the severity of Maria's impact is still being measured and understood and the situation is far from over and WON'T be for many months and even years to come.

Unfortunately the U.S. government's response to this humanitarian crisis is laughable and continues to get worse. Even now as we near November a majority of the island is without power and a contract awarded by the government to rebuild the energy grid gives $300 million to a firm only two years old based in Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's hometown. That's not even the most scandalous part of the deal. The language of the contract specifically FORBIDS any kind of auditing or oversight of the contract, which means Whitefish could essentially blow throw $300 million of taxpayer money without the people of Puerto Rico even getting any kind of help or assistance whatsoever. Who can prove that the money isn't being wasted instead of going where it's needed? NO ONE.

Thankfully this heinous contract was ultimately canceled before taking effect, but this is unfortunately just the tip of the iceberg with the number of things wrong with the response to Puerto Rico, a place which I honestly think should have become the 51st entry into the United States a long time ago, and yet still continues to exist in this territorial limbo where it's defended by the U.S. and used as a military base by the U.S. and people can freely come and go from there to the U.S. but yet IT'S STILL NOT PART OF THE U.S. and I think that accounts for the callous disregard our current administration has for the welfare of the island. Despite the fact over three million people live in a 3,515 square mile area, a greater population density than many U.S. cities, you'd think it was a deserted island based on how seriously the government's response to this disaster has been taken.

We can and SHOULD call on our elected officials to do better than this. Meanwhile here are some ways you can help directly. Unfortunately there's no sense waiting around for a government run by a lunatic who won't dirty his hands with the common people waiting to help anyone but the filthy rich like themselves. Only the people can help the people of Puerto Rico in this crisis.

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