Rebuilding Puerto Rico

January 25, 2018
By OliverB SILVER, Berkeley, California
OliverB SILVER, Berkeley, California
5 articles 0 photos 0 comments

In Puerto Rico, on September 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria struck with winds of up to 155 miles per hour. Trees were uprooted, ships and boats alike were smashed into rundown houses. Clean drinking water was tainted and power lines were destroyed. All of the island’s 3.4 million people were left in darkness, many without homes to which they could return.

If Puerto Rico is an American territory, then America, you should pay their debts for them. According to Mother Jones, Puerto Rico’s governor Ricardo Rossello “estimates it will cost $46 billion to rebuild damaged and destroyed homes, $30 billion to repair critical infrastructure, and $17.9 billion for long-term recovery.” That is $93.9 billion, a lot of money, but that shouldn’t stop America from helping its territory. If your territory needs money, then you give what they need so they can survive these harsh conditions. If Puerto Rico is out of clean water, has damaged houses and no electricity, then it is America’s job to fix it. Another way to save Puerto Rico would be if every full-time American worker paid $100 every month for the next year. Just $100—that is it one, zero, zero. Many Americans won’t want to pay $100 because they don’t have enough, so then congress needs to get some sense and pay the debt off that they have been placing on Puerto Rico. Either that, or those who have enough money to get another pool or golf course can donate and save lives.

Trump isn’t going to help Puerto Rico because he is a racist. According to Texas governor Greg Abbott, after Hurricane Harvey, Trump said that “Whatever Texas needs, Texas is going to get.” Not the same in Puerto Rico. If Puerto Rico was a state, Trump would be a lot more willing to help. But, you won’t be hearing this from Trump’s mouth: “Whatever Puerto Rico needs, Puerto Rico is going to get.” I think that if Puerto Ricans had white skin or orange skin, Trump and most of the people in charge would be MUCH more willing to help. In a September 30th tweet, Trump said, “Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help. They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort.” But the thing is, they can’t solve the problem, because America is taking money from them. So, a territory that you are bankrobbing has to pay for something that they don’t control. 

The Jones Act is strangling Puerto Rico and tossing it in the trash. After World War I, America was scared of the German U-boats, which had sunk nearly 5,000 ships during the war. Congress enacted the Merchant Marine Act of  1920, a.k.a. the Jones Act, to make sure that the country maintained a shipbuilding industry and seafaring labor force. Section 27 of this law decreed that only American ships could carry goods and passengers from one United States port to another. In addition, every ship must be built, crewed and owned by American citizens. On the surface, this is not that bad—if some of your labor force has sailors and shipbuilders you would want them to keep their jobs. However, when a natural disaster struck, if the nearby countries wanted to help them, they have to ship to the mainland first before sending supplies back to territories like Puerto Rico and Guam. This act may have been created to save jobs, but now it’s just a way to make America richer/stronger and our territories weaker/poorer.

Puerto Rico needs $94 billion. We’ve provided $5 billion. Why does Trump give Texas anything it wants but he bankrobs Puerto Rico? I thought that America was all about freedom and liberty. So, why do we even have territories that we treat like stray, feral cats, while we have states that we treat like indoor, domestic cats? We the the people of the United States need to tell Trump and the others in congress how unfair this is—to come to a place that already has people there, say this is mine now, thanks, and we’ll treat you like second-class citizens because of our nonsense rules. We have papers here that say you are alien races and you wouldn’t understand Anglo-Saxon principles. Bye! We need to get to Puerto Rico and help them rebuild. That could mean placing bricks in knee-deep water or donating money, or writing to congress and telling them to help Puerto Rico by ending the the Jones Act. Above all, we need to see the role racism has played in the rebuilding effort and destroy it.

The author's comments:

My motivation was to expose racism of Trump and other members of Congress in response to Hurricane Maria.

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