Issue #52: Blue tarps are a sign of slow recovery, "Generation Maria" leads a climate strike and more...
Friday marked two years since Hurricane Maria slammed into Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico, along with other parts of the Caribbean, are still recovering from the storm, a crisis reflected in the news coverage this week. It’s been my privilege to write this newsletter, and I thank you for sticking around and continuing to read two years later. – Ed. note.
“What Maria did was very important in political terms: It showed that the government of Puerto Rico was the equivalent of a failed state. We survived Hurricane Maria because of solidarity among churches, community organizations, neighbors. The government never arrived.” – Emilio Pantojas García, a sociology professor at the University of Puerto Rico (Patricia Mazzei and Alejandra Rosa / New York Times)
→ Weathering the Storm: For a Puerto Rican Community in a FEMA Flood Zone, Disaster Funds Promise Little Relief
“When you get deeper in terms of public policy and deeper in terms of the details in the action plan, and you put them in context with FEMA’s new maps of flooding and the context of the opportunity zones, you start to see that this is not for the people of Puerto Rico but instead about using the crisis after Maria to create a reorganization of the territory. They’re trying to get a lot of communities displaced because they think they live in a place that can be an opportunity for other projects like tourism.” –Roberto Thomas, director of the Jobos Bay Eco-Development Initiative (Alleen Brown / The Intercept)
Nearly $43 billion has been appropriated by Congress to be used for hurricane recovery, but the island has so far only received $13.3 billion. And José Sepúlveda, transmission and distribution engineer for Puerto Rico’s Electric Power Authority, said reconstructing the power grid will likely take seven years. (Dánica Coto / Associated Press)
Puerto Rico’s government estimates that there are still 30,000 families living under blue tarps. (Adrian Florido / NPR)
“When María came, there was so much neglect from the federal government. With President Trump, what happened is that people really started to think, ‘Wow, it’s really true. The U.S. doesn’t care about us and we’re just a territory. They don’t respond to our emergencies.’ The terrible physical, psychological and emotional suffering that they experienced because of María really sharpened that dismay. Yes, they’re U.S. citizens, but there are a lot of caveats to that citizenship. It’s not full citizenship.” – Ed Morales, author of “Fantasy Island: Colonialism, Exploitation and the Betrayal of Puerto Rico” (Isabelia Herrera / New York Times)
Though the youth climate strike movement was started in Sweden by Greta Thunberg, the movement has taken hold in Puerto Rico, where teen activists call themselves “la generación del ‘yo no me dejo.’” (Alleen Brown / the Intercept)
→ Two Years After Hurricane Maria Ravaged Puerto Rico, Startups Are Thriving Amid Plans to Fix Problems Uncovered by the Storm
Start-ups in San Juan are doing well, in part due to business decisions made in the wake of Hurricane Maria. (Leigh Buchanan / Inc.)