US and Puerto Rican officials played a role in Hurricane Fiona’s severe aftermath
Five years ago, Puerto Rico was dealing with the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Maria. The entire island was left without water and electricity. Many citizens are still dealing with the effects of that storm to this day, and sadly, we are back to where we started all those years ago with the recent visit of Hurricane Fiona. Different from category five Maria, Fiona was only category one. Still, it was extremely disastrous, and the United States and the Puerto Rican governments are to blame.
The federal government has repeatedly shown their disinterest in Puerto Rico’s struggles. In 2016, the U.S. government approved an unelected fiscal control board to handle the island’s monetary crisis. This board sold Puerto Rico’s electrical grid to a private corporation called LUMA Energy.
Under this company, prices for electricity have skyrocketed, and blackouts have become even more frequent. Now, days after the hurricane struck, the majority of the island still has not regained power. Clients still might get a $500 bill this month even without any electricity.
The Puerto Rican government is also guilty in this situation. When Maria happened, they hid many Federal Emergency Management Agency resources in a warehouse that was found three years later. Many natives of the island rightfully believe that this will happen again. The governor of Puerto Rico, Pedro Pierluisi, said in a press conference a few days ago that the island will see the supplies this time. Only time will tell if this is the truth.
It is hard to rely on the government after so many deceptions. In 2019, the island overthrew Former Governor Ricardo Rosselló after leaked conversations revealed his corruption. After that event, Puerto Ricans have been so fed up with politicians trying to steal from the people.
It is much more beneficial to donate to nonprofit organizations rather than the government. A few of them collecting funds right now include Taller Salud, La Fondita de Jesús, Brigada Solidaria del Oeste and Fundación Sin Límites.
We need to listen to Puerto Rican voices at this moment. They are staying there and battling against everything that comes their way because it is their home. Many residents of Puerto Rico are being displaced from their residences as Americans who don’t live on the island are moving to PR to avoid paying taxes, which is also causing a growing gentrification problem.
It is crucial to remember that not everyone can just pack up and leave. Puerto Rican artist Bad Bunny explains this in detail in a documentary music video for the song El Apagón. Puerto Ricans have to either stay and deal with the hardships, or leave their home permanently. That is all many of them can afford. On the other hand, Americans like Logan Paul and Brock Pierce have houses in Puerto Rico and can come and go however they please.
Maria and Fiona may have caused many damages to Puerto Rico, but they will never destroy the spirit of the Puerto Rican. One way or another, they will get through this. Any help that can be offered and given really does count. It is time to listen to the natives of the island because they know what is best for them.
Adriana Vivas Gotay, Class of 2026
Published on September 21, 2022 at 11:47 pm