Pa'lante: June 4

Issue #1: The real death toll, a still-fragile power grid and more

Welcome to the first edition of Pa’lante, a weekly newsletter about Puerto Rico and the diaspora which will be sent out on Mondays.

We’ll be focusing a lot on the island’s recovery from Hurricane Maria. The biggest news this week is that, according to Harvard researchers, the estimated death toll after the storm was close to 5,000.

(Andy Marlette, Pensacaola News Journal)

The Secret Buried in the Puerto Rican Death Toll: A new study estimates that the death toll in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria was actually 4,645 – a rate twice as high of that after Hurricane Katrina. For months, the Puerto Rican government had insisted that the death toll was only 64 people. (Jeff Goodell / Rolling Stone)

New Puerto Rico Data Shows Deaths Increased By 1,400 After Hurricane Maria: Late last week, the Puerto Rico Department of Health released data indicating that there were at least 1,400 additional deaths in 2017 versus the same time from the previous year. (Arelis R. Hernández / Washington Post)

Publishing the Names of the Deceased: Andrea González-Ramírez, a writer for Refinery 29, started a Twitter thread where she is highlighting the names of the individuals who died in Puerto Rico. See the thread here.

Andrea González-Ramírez@andreagonram

Since the news cycle and Twitter dot com apparently already forgot about the 5,000+ people who died in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, I'm going to spotlight the stories of our dead. #4645boricuas

May 30, 2018

San Juan Mayor Calls Trump’s ‘Total Neglect’ Of Puerto Rico A Violation Of Human Rights: “The United Nations says that when people are denied the right to access to basic human services — like electric power, like water, like food, like appropriate medical care — that it is a violation of human rights.” – Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz (Mary Papenfuss / HuffPost)

Protesters Demand Audit of Hurricane Maria Death Toll in Puerto Rico: “If it were 5,000 kittens, there would be outrage. If it was 5,000 dogs, there would be outrage. If it was 5,000 blonde-haired, blue-eyed women, there would be outrage.” – Elizabeth Yeampierre, executive director of Uprose, a Latino organization in Brooklyn. (Jeffery C. Mays / New York Times)

Puerto Rico's Power Grid 'Highly Fragile' to Another Storm Despite a $3.8 Billion Repair Job: “The grid is there, but the grid isn’t there. It’s teetering. Even if it’s a (Category) 1, it is in such a state that I think we’re going to lose power. I don’t know for how long.” – Hector Pesquera, Puerto Rico’s commissioner of public safety. (Michael Weissenstein / Associated Press)

Student Protestors in Puerto Rico Face Trial as Government Criminalizes Dissent: Seven students at the University of Puerto Rico are facing criminal charges for their involvement in a 2017 protest. (Alice Speri / The Intercept)

Puerto Rico State Insurance Fund Workers Sue to Stop Promesa: Three unions representing the State Insurance Fund Corp. have filed a legal action claiming that PROMESA is unconstitutional. (Eva Lloréns Vélez / Caribbean Business)

After Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rican Women Embrace Their Natural, Curly Hair: Women in Puerto Rico are wearing their natural curls, a result of not having electricity to blow dry and straighten their hair after Hurricane Maria. (Michel Martin and Elizabeth Banker / NPR)

Thanks for reading. If you have news you’d like us to consider for inclusion in the next edition, please email