It’s been over half a year since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, and despite it being an official US territory, updates on the condition of the country have been cycled out of the news reel entirely. Although Hurricane Maria was the worst recorded natural disaster to ever hit the Dominica and Puerto Rico, aid has been slim. Hence, there’s been little bounce-back as these countries struggle to heal. President Donald Trump has been especially criticized for his hesitance to support continuous, unbridled aid for Puerto Rico.
The Puerto Rican government released a statement, stating that schools were already operating at 60% capacity and that almost 30,000 students had already left the system. Since Puerto Rican residents are American citizens, they can move to work in mainland United States without any paperwork. Given that Hurricane Maria left at least 1 million people without electricity in January 2018, combined with the heavy loss of infrastructure sustained, many Puerto Ricans have chosen to move to mainland USA to pursue work and safe housing. This migration has left Puerto Rico desolate. Lyman Stone, an economist studying Puerto Rico’s population projections, estimates that the country’s population will continue to shrink.
This situation will hopefully thrust Puerto Rico back into the spotlight to an extent where the public’s attention can shift back to the topic of aid. It is evident that the aftermath of Hurricane Maria is nowhere near to being over, and given that Puerto Rican residents are American citizens by every definition, there should be no debate as to whether or not they deserve U.S dollars. Puerto Ricans are American taxpayers, but it feels as though they are paying into a system that does not protect them. Instead, the American federal aid system has dramatically failed Puerto Rico, and the fact that there is even a debate on aid for Puerto Rico is inherently disrespectful.
It has been estimated that it will take at least $50 billion to rebuild Puerto Rico. The U.S spends over $500 billion annually on defense spending alone. Aid for Puerto Rico’s revival is possible, and more than necessary. With storm season approaching, Puerto Rico needs federal aid as fast as possible.
Photo: Roosevelt Skerrit