The anniversary of hurricane Maria has shaped and changed the way we look at the relationship between the U.S government and Puerto Rico. For decades, Puerto Rico has been excluded from many different opportunities and have been denied many legal rights. Puerto Ricans have had to be on their own when it comes to building themselves up whenever anything has ruined their island. In 2017 the island of Puerto Rico was hit with a category five hurricane named Maria. The hurricane destroyed the island and left thousands without a life or a home. As “part of the U.S” Puerto Rico was left without the right resources, aidless, and uncommunicated for months. The hurricane was the factor that woke up Americans to see how our government mishandled their funds as well how they pick and choose which territories have access to those funds when a natural disaster occurs.
Puerto Rico has always received the short-hand of the stick when it comes to receiving aid from the United States. Before Maria, the island had gone through many hurricanes and they were left in the dark when it came to being supplied with the appropriate fund to rebuild the island. The reading “Puerto Ricans are Hardly U.S Citizens. They are colonial subjects” by Jaqueline N. Font-Guzman speaks on how Puerto Ricans have never really been treated equally as “Americans”. She talks about the separation the United States creates when it comes incorporating Puerto Rico in economic and legal affairs. For example, she says “ Puerto Ricans suffering the devastation of Hurricane Maria are not fellow American citizens; they are colonial subjects of the United States”(3).
This illustrates that the United States has never had the intention of giving Puerto Ricans the same equal rights as Americans born in the United States, and by excluding them it also gives them enough leeway to not invest their funding in rebuilding colonized territories such as Puerto Rico after natural disasters occur. Another article touched on how many of youth in Puerto Rico were dying from many different factors. Before the hurricane Puerto Rico was already in a bad place from having intoxicated water to having toxins from factories poisoning their communities and the United States never did anything to help them rebuild themselves.
The article “The Maria Generation: Young people are dying and suffering on an island with a highly uncertain future” by John D. Sutter shines lights to some of the deaths that have been occuring in Puerto Rico due to hurricane Maria and other factors that played into the deaths of many young children. Puerto Rico was never in a good financial standing even before Maria. Many of the funds donated to the Island were mishandled and undistributed putting Puerto Rican natives in a worse situation after the storm hit. For instance, the article mentions “Before the storm, their island was bankrupt and hemorrhaging its 3.3 million US citizens. Now, there are serious questions about how many young people will be left when the “exodus” slows”. The hurricane really gave a platform for Puerto Ricans to expose some of the underlying financial issues that were occurring on the island. Many of these issues were already there from many years before but the injustice that the island faced after being basically washed out by the storm left the impression on many Americans that the United States in reality only helps the island when it benefits our government. Fast forward till today, the anniversary of Maria just finished happening and many Puerto Ricans on the island and on the mainland were once again overwhelmed by different emotions. The livestream of the anniversary of Maria touched on many issues that were affiliated with the storm being handled completely wrong. Today many people have found that majority of the aid donated to the island and most of the money given to them for reconstruction purposes, were being misdistrubated also not used appropriately to help them rebuild themselves. In addition, the event also elaborated on the issues of a corrupt government and governor in Puerto Rico which allowed for the funds being added to the island to be handled completely wrong.
Puerto Rico has been used, abused, and excluded on their own island and this is an issue many today are bringing awareness to. Today we have a bigger platform to expose the issues happening on the island and with Puerto Ricans over throwing its governor they have a chance to actually push for a change on the island. Millions of people today due to this event are becoming aware and educated on the financial crisis Puerto Rico has been placed in and how the United States government plays a huge role in keeping them in this never ending bankruptcy. As an outcome Puerto Rico remains in a state of vulnerability when it comes to natural disasters and rebuilding itself.