When I first heard of hurricane Maria, I thought it was going to be another typical storm. It was several weeks after the storm hit when I noticed how wrong I truly was. My grandmother and mother came from Puerto Rico when my mother was younger, and I only went once when I was four. I don’t remember anything about the trip. My connection to the island may be weak but I still have many family members there and my grandmother often talks to her siblings. Her mother just passed away recently and she was a hundred years old. My grandma says her family takes up a whole city block where they live.
When the Storm hit, and I saw on the news how it was being reporter as not a huge deal or not that destructive and to me that was a little difficult to believe. After a few weeks my grandmother told me she still couldn’t reach her family by phone. She was scared for her brother and sisters. The news mentioned how most of the island was without electricity and this was the reason that my grandmother could not reach her family.
Reports came out that only 6 people died. I had a hard time believing it was so low because of the lack of ability to communicate with the island. Then reports started coming out saying thousands of people died. How did we go from 6 to thousands of people dying? According to the research article “Mortality in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria” the official reports were that 64 people died. Different institutions had varying death counts as can be seen from graph below. After doing their study they calculated that at least 4645 people pasted away directly or indirectly to due hurricane Maria and stated the death toll may be higher than this. Something went wrong in terms of an accurate determination of how many people died.
Trump made the disaster worse with things he said and did. He was the first person I heard saying only six people died. From what I noticed Trump doesn’t fact check anything and doesn’t listen to his own security advisers. If he receives information that fits his narrative, he would use it and tell people false information. When it was clear and obvious to us all how bad the hurricane was, he still did little to help. One of the things I remember the most is him throwing tissue to a crowd of people as if these paper towels would solve all problems. All the paper towels in the U.S wouldn’t be enough to solve this problem. I personally think he is retarded so nothing he does surprises me, and I don’t take things he says seriously.
This class has opened my eyes to the fact that many things went wrong in Puerto Rico prior to the hurricane Maria. Things have been going wrong for a very long time and it became the normal, so it was hard to see. Some of these issues like poor infrastructure, a crumbling economy and a government whose main concern was paying off a debt and not investing in their own people.
I have taking several classes pertaining to countries to the South of the United States like Mexico, Dominican Republic, Colombia and many others. I noticed how every time the U.S found a way to exploit these countries. They did this by promising democracy and putting in power people who would work for U.S interest. In many cases they took resources from these countries and gave little to nothing back. I thought Puerto Rico was different because of its status has a commonwealth and the fact that Puerto Ricans received U.S citizenship. I came to find out that Puerto Rico suffered much like other Caribbean islands due to the U.S. In some ways these other countries may have been lucky to be able to fight for their independence and work towards their own future rather than having a government put in place which only cares about helping the United States and not their own people.
Now that so many issues are brought to the publics eyes hopefully the island can start recovering not just from the hurricane Maria but from its own political and economic turmoil. I feel the only answer is making Puerto Rico a state or it becoming its own country. The reason I feel this way is because as a state Puerto Rico would get all the benefits States usually get like aid from the federal government. This will also truly make every Puerto Rican true citizens with no restrictions on their citizenship. They would be able to vote for the president and other benefits that come with statehood. In terms of becoming their own country this would lead to self-rule. They would be able to put a government in place of their choosing that works for the people of Puerto Rico and not for the U.S government interest. This would lead to the ability to trade with the world and not have to use the U.S as the middleman.