Power 4 Puerto Rico

4 mins read

On Friday, May 15th, 2020 at 8:00 PM, there is going to be a Social Media Boom. This boom will target key Republican Senators that have significant Puerto Rican populations in their state. The plan to target them on Twitter & Facebook. 

The following information is context to help you all to better understand what is happening in Puerto Rico. The following information was prepared by the People4PR National organizers.

Puerto Rico is facing three back-to-back natural disasters, on top of a financial crisis: 

the COVID pandemic 

earthquakes 

hurricane season, which begins again on June 1st 

It is CRITICAL for progressives to help the broader public understand the following: 

• Hurricane Maria funds have been repeatedly blocked (after being approved by Congress and signed into law) and delayed by the Trump administration out of a political agenda. 

• Funding that has been sent to the island is not fungible. This means that money for hurricane reconstruction cannot be used for COVID response nor for earthquake reconstruction. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has refused to even consider a bill the House approved to help Puerto Ricans rebuild homes, schools and businesses destroyed by 6.4 tremor the Island is still feeling the aftershocks of. 

This bill would allow funds from one disaster to be used for the multiple emergencies Puerto Rico is facing at once

• Puerto Rico is not expected to hit a COVID apex until June, which is when the next hurricane season begins. FEMA has not made clear how they would respond to overlapping disasters. 

• Towns like Villalba and organizations like Ciencia Puerto Rico (Puerto Rico Science) have been taking the reins on contact tracing and COVID testing. 

• Nonprofits like Casa Pueblo are leading a viral solar project, with an entire community in Adjuntas –centers, businesses and homes– solared up. Ponce Neighborhood Housing Services is trying to help families who were doubly impacted by Hurricane Maria and the earthquakes. 

>>We need funding to reach communities in need in Puerto Rico, especially considering how it and all of the other U.S. territories — all archipelagos– are even more vulnerable to climate change. Lives are at stake!

Background 

Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States. It, along with Guam and other peoples with their own culture, history and identity were “acquired” after the Spanish-U.S. War of 1898. 

The Puerto Rican people are treated as a territorial possession. The fact that Puerto Rico related issues fall under the “Natural Resources” committee of the House accentuates this. After proclaiming to the world that the U.S. and Puerto Rico had reached a compact called Commonwealth that allowed limited autonomy for the island, the U.S. Congress in essence rescinded internal self- rule by imposing an unelected fiscal control board that rules over Puerto Rican elected officials. 

This situation, and the austerity measures imposed by the board, exacerbate a long history of legal cases along with unfair and arbitrary policy decisions in Washington have hampered Puerto Rico’s ability to develop and sustain an economy of growth, instead of one that was designed to favor U.S. corporate interests. Puerto Rico is forced to hop on a merry-go-round of requests for funding and waivers in the face of structural barriers that not only derail its growth for its people but also are life-threatening during emergencies.

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