Puerto Rico Needs Your Help
Puerto Rico is an often forgotten U.S. Territory. With no senators or voting privileges, this Caribbean island receives little representation in Congress, but still abides by the same laws and regulations of our federal government. The neglected island has not received the necessary help from the federal government during their most recent natural disaster when Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria left Puerto Rico in ruins.
The mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulin Cruz, has been public about the grappling of providing clean water, food, and electricity to Puerto Rican citizens. In an interview with CNN, she spoke out against the response that the federal government has emitted to support Puerto Rico.
"This is not a good news story. This is a 'people are dying' story. It's a life-or-death story," she said. Although the federal government has put in some effort to support the crisis, the mayor and others have expressed the need for more.
President Trump has tweeted about the issue, stating “The Mayor of San Juan, who was very complimentary only a few days ago, has now been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump. 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.” These remarks show little respect for the effort that officials are putting into Puerto Rico’s crisis and it diverts citizens’ attentions to the problem at hand.
Since there is no fuel available on the island, transporting supplies to people in need has been one of the main struggles. This challenge has been complicated by The Jones Act, established in 1920, ensuring that goods shipped from one American port to another must be shipped in American operated, made, and crewed vessels. This Act directly affects the aide in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria because receiving supplies in Puerto Rico is exceedingly difficult. Instead of advocating repealing the Act, President Trump has waived this Act for a short ten days — an incredibly small amount of time to receive the amount of support Puerto Rico truly needs.
Cecilia Aldarondo, an Skidmore English Professor involved with the help efforts says she is concerned for Puerto Rico and its citizens. “Puerto Rico is facing seismic problems,” she said. These internal issues are leading to little food, water, and hospitals without power struggling to aide patients. Aldarondo also emphasized the importance of what we can do here at Skidmore, and in the Continental United States.
“Right now the best things people can do is A) make donations and tell others, B) call your Congresspeople daily and push for federal disaster aid legislation to support Puerto Rico's long-term recovery, and C) keep following the aftermath in the media as much as possible," suggested Aldarondo
One of the easiest ways to help is to donate, and there are already several organizations coordinating relief efforts. One is United for Puerto Rico, an initiative started by the First Lady of Puerto Rico, Beatriz Rosello. There is also a hub on GoFundMe where donations to various organizations can be made. Another easy way to help is to sign a petition, such as the Change.org petition to waive the Jones Act. Also, be aware of on campus support in the near future, as well as donation spots in Albany.
Donating and being informed about the political and economic climate is essential to understanding and supporting the hopeful recovery of the American citizens struggling in Puerto Rico.
Links for places to donate and support:
United for Puerto Rico:
Help bring clean water:
International Medical Corps:
Get in touch with your State’s Senate and Congress:
Who to contact on campus to get involved: