With the nation still riveted on Donald Trump’s ranting about Colin Kaepernick and members of the NFL taking a knee in solidarity with him, Puerto Rico has been lost in the shuffle.
Donald Trump lost no time praising his administration’s response (and therefore, praising himself) to the ongoing human tragedy in Puerto Rico. He actually spoke in terms of getting great reviews, as if the catastrophe is just another reality show. The story on the ground, however, is an entirely different story.
Last night, Rachel Maddow interviewed the mayor of San Juan, who had a different story to tell. While acknowledging that FEMA was there and doing a lot of planning, a tearful Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz literally begged for action instead of requests for memos. She said that there were people just itching to get out there and help but with no direction from above, nothing is getting done. Meanwhile, the 3.5 million American citizens on the island have no electricity, no fuel, no food, no water and are fast running out of hope.
Trump’s complete and utter disregard for the people of Puerto Rico is a national disgrace, much like the president is a national disgrace. It isn’t like nobody knew what was coming to ravage Puerto Rico. There was plenty of warning and plenty of time to get resources in place. As Hillary Clinton suggested, the U.S.S. Comfort could have been dispatched. Only 11 of the 69 hospitals on the island have fuel or power and having that ship ready to accept refugees from the storm would have made a difference. But what did Puerto Rico get? Tweets. And mean tweets at that.
The man who filed for bankruptcy 6 times and had to go to Russia to get loans, because American bankers would no longer lend him money; the man who stiffed contractors who worked for him; the man who claims to be a billionaire, but can’t seem to pay his bills – this man is tweeting it’s sad that Puerto Rico, which has been essentially leveled and will be without power until sometime next spring, has to pay back Wall Street.
This is when a REAL president would step up to the plate and insist that Wall Street do the only decent (patriotic) thing and forgive the debt. After all, this is an American possession, with representation in Congress and inhabited by American citizens. However, Congress doesn’t usually step in when outside lenders are involved. Barring that, there are measures that can be taken to aid the island in rebuilding; measures like adjusting the fiscal plan outlined by Congress to waive debt servicing for the next several years and waiving the Jones Act, which stipulates that goods shipped from one American port to another must be transported on a ship that is built by Americans, owned by Americans and crewed by Americans or permanent residents. The result for the people of Puerto Rico is that goods shipped in this manner, rather than utilizing competing shippers from other countries (you know, let the market decide?), are more expensive and drive up the cost of everything on the island when compared to goods purchased on the U.S. mainland or other Caribbean islands.
The Jones Act was waived after Hurricanes Katrina, Sandy and Harvey. But Trump has not waived it for Puerto Rico. One wonders why, but I think I already know the answer. The people of Puerto Rico are the wrong color and speak the wrong language. To someone like Trump, that is all it takes to leave Puerto Rico on the back burner without gas or a match to light it.
One wonders if Trump will fly some supporters over so he can stand there with his stupid hat that he’ll try to sell for $40 (maybe give the Puerto Rican people a discount to show what a great guy he is?) and talk about the size of the crowd and the size of the hurricane (because to Trump, size matters) and what a bang-up job he’s doing.
Meanwhile, the people of Puerto Rico are literally dying of hunger, thirst, and lack of medical care. Most importantly, they are dying because the President of the United States just doesn’t give a damn about them.
Ann Werner is the author of thrillers and other things. Show her some love and check out her books!
Visit her at Ann Werner on the Web