On Political Posturing About Puerto Rico Since Maria

Today is the two-year anniversary of the day that Hurricane Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico. Since then, there have been conflicting accounts of the death toll, revelations of corruption within the Puerto Rican government, and questions about why the United States should help Puerto Rico when the island has been presumed to have caused its own problems. These prickly debates and behaviors have deflected the issue away from those who are in the most need and who have the least say in whether or how their needs are met: the Puerto Rican people.

Puerto Rico became a colony of the United States in 1898 after the Spanish-American war, when Spain ceded Puerto Rico and several other colonies to the US. Since then, the relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States has been one of oppression, exploitation, and indifference on the part of the latter against the former. A large portion of the debt burden currently being carried by Puerto Rico has resulted multiple contradicting and constricting economic regulations the US imposed on the colony over several decades. Even so, the blame has been placed on the Puerto Rican people.

At the time that Hurricane Maria touched down, Puerto Rico had no funding and no infrastructure to address the category 4 storm. Since then, the aid has either been missing, lost, sent to the wrong areas, or otherwise mismanaged. While politicians are playing the blame game, the people in the areas of lower income and no tourism are being neglected. It will take a long time and a lot of effort to help Puerto Rico to not only recover fully from Maria, but also prepare for future storms. It is time for the political games to end, and for the regard for humanity to drive the recovery efforts.

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