Puerto Rico ruined, Trump adds insult to injury

This video from the USA says about itself:

Environmental Disaster Looms in Puerto Rico, Lashed by Hurricane Maria & Left Without Power

21 September 2017

Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico Wednesday as a Category 4 storm, bringing record rainfall and catastrophic flooding, destroying power lines and leaving the entire country in the dark. This comes as many homes on Puerto Rico were still dark two weeks after Hurricane Irma cut electricity to hundreds of thousands. The storm also raised concerns about potential environmental disasters.

Puerto Rico is home to 23 Superfund sites, including on the island of Vieques, site of a former U.S. naval test range, which took a near-direct hit from the storm. It is also the site of a coal-fired power plant owned by the private company AES. Residents across the island have been demanding the plant be closed and that the company stop dumping toxic coal ash into their community, saying the waste is poisonous to their health and the environment. We speak with Emily Atkin, staff writer covering the environment at the New Republic, who writes, “Puerto Rico is Already an Environmental Tragedy. Hurricane Maria Will Make It Even Worse.”

By Rafael Azul:

President Trump threatens to pull the plug on Puerto Rico

13 October 2017

In 1975, in the midst of the New York City financial crash, the Daily News published the famous headline “Ford to New York: Drop Dead!” Its front-page article went on to denounce then-President Gerald Ford’s decision not to bail out New York City.

A similar headline would be appropriate today—“Trump to Puerto Rico: Drop Dead!”—following president Trump’s most recent threats and tweets about the financial and environmental crisis that have mired this island since the twin impacts of Hurricane Irma and particularly Hurricane Maria.

“Puerto Rico survived the Hurricanes, now a financial crisis looms largely of their own making,” he claimed, quoting right-wing television journalist Sharyl Attkisson. He added Thursday morning, in three separate tweets: “A total lack of accountability say the Governor [sic]. Electric and all infrastructures was disaster before hurricanes. Congress to decide how much to spend. … We cannot keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. forever!”

Trump’s statements are a brutal response to Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rossello’s appeal this week to grant emergency low-interest loans to provide his government with much-needed liquidity. On Wednesday, Rossello also asked the US Congress for $4.9 billion to fund the community disaster loan system. Puerto Rico has been shut out of the debt market since its bankruptcy.

Hurricane Maria destroyed the island’s electricity grid, caused the near collapse of telephone and wireless communications, a water and sewage crisis, floods and landslides. Puerto Rico must now deal with a severe health crisis, with a weakened infrastructure of damaged hospitals and clinics.

Water, food, and fuel are rationed in many parts of the island. According to press reports Thursday, food supplies are running low and the number of meals provided through relief agencies is dwarfed by the need. Absent a massive infusion of aid, the very survival of hundreds of thousands is in question.

Next week will mark a month since Hurricane Maria struck. Six thousand are still living in shelters; only about 17 percent have electricity. Forty percent lack access to clean water. Following his very brief visit to Puerto Rico, Trump requested that Congress free up $29 billion for Puerto Rico, but $16 billion were earmarked for payment of the island government’s $74 billion debt. Wall Street will get more “relief” than the people of Puerto Rico.

While high-ranking military officials attempted to minimize the impact of Trump’s tweets—chief of Staff John Kelly made his first appearance at a press conference Thursday to declare that troops and first responders would remain in the island until the “job was done”—it is clear that the US government has no inclination to undertake the massive investments required by Puerto Rico.

This was conceded by Press Secretary Sarah Sanders. After reminding her audience that relief operations “will not last forever,” Sanders reaffirmed that Trump and Congress are seeking a “fiscally responsible” way out of this crisis, code words for the further impoverishment of the Puerto Rican working class, and paving the way for a handover of whatever assets are left to Wall Street speculators and vulture funds.

Alongside his attacks on long-term aid to Puerto Rico, Trump decided to not renew his 10-day suspension of the Jones Act, which bars foreign ships from moving cargo between Puerto Rican and US ports, imposing extraordinary shipping costs on the island.

Adding to the catastrophic impact of the hurricanes Irma and Maria, the financial crisis and the refusal of Trump and FEMA to offer sufficient food water and other essentials to Puerto Rico, is a jump in unemployment. In the city of Ponce last week, thousands of workers lined up at the headquarters of the Department of Labor and Human Resources (DLHR).

Many of those that were already unemployed on September 20 have not received their unemployment compensation checks (due to the collapse of mail services), and were there to collect their payments.

However, the majority of those waiting in line were newly unemployed or had had their hours cut. A 26-year-old unemployed worker at a clothing store told the local newspaper La Perla that “we are forced to come because our bosses quickly resort to cutting hours and let the workers be damned.”

The number of applicants for unemployment benefits this week was more than 3,000, compared to 960 in the week before Hurricane Maria. DLRH officials expect this last number to continue growing in the weeks ahead.

In San Juan, Labor Secretary Carlos Saavedra has so far refused to respond to press enquiries about the huge growth in the number of unemployed workers. In Ponce, many businesses and plants remain closed. Those that are in operation in many cases have slashed their hours, including factories in Ponce, Yauco, Juana Díaz, Santa Isabel, Salinas and other southeastern cities.

The DLRH plans to announce 26 weeks of paltry disaster relief checks for the unemployed, with weekly checks averaging $110.

In response to Thursday’s tweets by Trump, Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz angrily renamed the “Commander in Chief” as “Hater in Chief”, denouncing Trump for lacking the “moral imperative” to help Puerto Rico. Governor Rossello responded, also via tweet, without mentioning Trump; “US citizens in Puerto Rico demand the help and support our nation’s citizens are entitled to.”

These statements by capitalist politicians are a pale reflection of the anger felt by millions of Puerto Ricans and their families, not only on the island, but throughout the mainland. The politicians’ differences with Trump are mostly tactical, centered on how best to make workers pay for the financial and environmental crisis in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, California, Texas, Florida and elsewhere.

Trump’s tweets, his and Congress’s minimal help for Puerto Rico, and their demands that the banks be paid first are a warning that American imperialism has no solution for the crisis in one of its first colonial territories. There must be independent joint struggle of all workers, both in Puerto Rico and the mainland, for a massive effort of reconstruction and social investments for all the victims of the hurricanes of 2017.

SAN JUAN’S MAYOR: IT MAY BE EASY TO DISREGARD PUERTO RICO BECAUSE WE’RE A U.S. COLONY “We will no longer be able to hide our poverty and our inequality with palm trees and piña coladas,” Carmen Yulín Cruz Soto told HuffPost. Thousands are fleeing Puerto Rico, without knowing if they’ll ever return. And the lights will go back on in Puerto Rico by December — at the earliest. [HuffPost]

HOW TRUMP IS UNDERMINING OBAMACARE “President Donald Trump plans to halt payments to health insurance companies serving the poorest customers on the Obamacare exchanges, the White House announced Thursday.” [HuffPost]

23 thoughts on “Puerto Rico ruined, Trump adds insult to injury

  1. Pingback: Puerto Rico ruined, Trump adds insult to injury | Dear Kitty. Some blog | John Oliver Mason

  2. Day 265 (October 12, 2017)
    In today’s issue: Trump threatens Puerto Rico

    After repeatedly complaining about providing disaster relief to Puerto Rico (we’re still not sure Trump realizes Puerto Ricans are American citizens), Trump today threatened to pull FEMA and the military out of Puerto Rico.
    There is a humanitarian crisis in PR. Puerto Ricans don’t have electricity or food. Buildings and homes have been destroyed. Many people have died, and have been injured or become sick from the toxic destruction that the hurricane left behind.
    Why is Trump ok with providing endless support to Texas and not to Puerto Rico? We’ve asked before, but again, does he not know that PR is part of the US?
    The Mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulin Cruz, responded with a statement that included a plea for her fellow Americans to stand with Puerto Rico: “I ask every American … to stand with Puerto Rico and let this President know we WILL NOT BE LEFT TO DIE.”


  3. Pingback: Hurricane Ophelia kills, damages electricity in Ireland | Dear Kitty. Some blog

    Solidarity & Aid for the People of Puerto Rico
    Stand With All the People
    of the Caribbean

    HURRICANE RELIEF NEEDED NOW!Solidarity Actions Critical – Donate
    The International Action Center is launching a People-to-People Aid Campaign for the ultra-devastated nation of Puerto Rico.

    The IAC is collecting monetary donations
    to send to politically established grassroots organizations-specifically the Puerto Rico Teacher’s Federation (FMPR) which is working with other unions and groups organizing working brigades throughout the island to help poor communities, teachers and students who lost everything.

    FMPR work brigades

    Why is the IAC launching this campaign? The entire world has seen the utter destruction of the beautiful island of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria hit the Caribbean on September 20. Weeks after the hurricane hit, millions remain with no food, water or shelter. Almost the entire island has no electricity. People are dying, hungry and desperate despite the fact that it is well known the U.S. could alleviate the situation if it really wanted.

    It will take years to repair Puerto Rico. But if the solidarity movement does not continue its work in the U.S. to demand genuine aid, the island could be rebuild entirely for the needs of the banks and the corporations. The gentrification we see in our neighborhoods will take over the entire island.

    Furthermore, the struggle against colonialism and for the independence of Puerto Rico could be completely derailed as a result of this catastrophe. We are confident however, that the Puerto Rican people will not allow this to happen.

    The IAC wants to do its part to help. We are carrying out people to people solidarity by sending money to organizations that have long been in the struggle to defend the people from U.S. imperialism.

    Long after the news of Puerto Rico is off the front pages, solidarity actions with Puerto Rico and all the Caribbean will be urgent. The U.S. solidarity movement is now discussing People to People Work brigades as well as continued protests to demand real aid, not military occupation for Puerto Rico. Furthermore, Trump’s arrogant actions toward Puerto Rico cannot be used by the Democrats to overlook the real issues. It was under a Democratic administration, Barack Obama, that the Promesa Act was passed, forcing Puerto Rico to pay the illegitimate debt of $74 billion!

    Donate to the IAC at IACenter.org. 100% of the money collected will go to the FMPR with a message of solidarity against U.S. imperialism.

    We are calling for:

    Demand an end to PROMESA, repeal the Jones Act!
    No privatization of the island.
    Puerto Rico for the Puerto Ricans, not the banks!
    Cancel the debt and pay reparations!
    No militarization of Puerto Rico!
    Solidarity with the Virgin Islands, Haiti
    and all the Caribbean!


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