September 16th 2017 was the birth of Hurricane Maria and when every storm is born you have no idea how powerful it will become. Maria went on to become a Category 5 storm that devastated the shores of the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. This was not the first storm of the season. Maria was the eighth hurricane, fourth major hurricane and second Cat 5 to effect American soil. Yes, I said American Soil. Though 70% of Americans do not realize you do not need a passport to travel to Puerto Rico and Puerto Ricans have citizenship.
However, it is complicated because Puerto Ricans are not able to vote for the President and they cannot communicate directly with other sovereign nations. Puerto Rico is a territory and the U.S. Government essentially treats Puerto Rico as a foreign entity controlled by “Big Brother”. This was never more apparent than when Hurricane Maria devastated the shores of Puerto Rico and we saw the lackluster response by the government.
Early in the Summer Texas, Florida and most of the Gulf Coast were hit with storms that caused major damage and required federal aid and humanitarian relief. Most of the aid was provided in a timely manner. However, in the case of Puerto Rico, nearly a year later, there are many areas on the island that still does not have power. Many Puerto Rican Americans suffered for over 6 months with no clean drinking water, no electricity, no ability to cook at home and no timeline for when they would receive help.
Many of the supporters of this administration use the argument that Texas and Florida are land locked on the continental United States and therefore it is easier to administer aid. If that is true, surely in this modern era with Navy ships that can power entire cities and helicopters that can carry tons of food we don’t have a legitimate excuse for the slow response. However, they try to spin things especially with recent events which have served as a wakeup call for Puerto Ricans. The original death toll reported by the U.S. government was 46 people. For those that believed this it seemed like a blessing. A category 5 storm completely wrecked the infrastructure of an entire Island and only 46 people died? How is this possible? The truth is as more organizations looked in to the truth they found that the reported number was off by over 1000%.
Unfortunately, that is not a typo. I said 1000%! A study conducted by George Washington University revealed that more than 4,600 people were killed directly because of Hurricane Maria. That means more American citizens died from Hurricane Maria than 9/11, more than Hurricane Katrina and more than the combined casualties of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This makes Hurricane Maria easily a tragedy that resulted in more American deaths than any other since World War 2 and yet this is not treated as an American tragedy. What message does it send that not only did the government not care enough to help but they could not even get the number of casualties’ right? These are American lives, people with loving families. There are Puerto Ricans that are waking up today that still don’t have their lives back in order. It is now June and hurricane season is beginning. This year’s hurricane season is from mid June to mid October with most of the major storms expected to hit between mid August and early October.
We need to speak up. Puerto Rico still needs our help and with the daily antics of this juvenile administration one of the things that continues to be lost is one simple message. Puerto Ricans are Americans and if you ignore them than you ignore our fellow citizens. Children and elderly people did not have to die. There is no excuse for the apathy and ignoring the truth. We can do better and we must do better.
Remember we are all in this struggle together. 1struggle, 1community, 1world , 1LUV!