Pa'lante: Sept. 17

Issue #18: The anniversary of Maria approaches, Trump denies the death toll and more...

The first anniversary of Hurricane Maria is on Thursday. There are a number of commemoration events happening throughout the U.S. and in Puerto Rico. You can see a list of some of the biggest events, compiled by Remezcla here:

10 Events Where You Can Honor and Remember the Victims of Hurricane María (Frances Solá-Santiago / Remezcla)

One Year After Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico Crisis Hotline Receiving 600 Calls a Day: The anniversary of a major event can trigger mental health issues, according to crisis workers. (Liz Hoath / CBC Radio)

Unfortunately, the top story last week was that, in a series of tweets, President Donald Trump denied that the death toll after Maria was 3,000.

Donald J. Trump@realDonaldTrump

3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico. When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths. As time went by it did not go up by much. Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000...

September 13, 2018
Donald J. Trump@realDonaldTrump

.....This was done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible when I was successfully raising Billions of Dollars to help rebuild Puerto Rico. If a person died for any reason, like old age, just add them onto the list. Bad politics. I love Puerto Rico!

September 13, 2018
Donald J. Trump@realDonaldTrump

“When Trump visited the island territory last October, OFFICIALS told him in a briefing 16 PEOPLE had died from Maria.” The Washington Post. This was long AFTER the hurricane took place. Over many months it went to 64 PEOPLE. Then, like magic, “3000 PEOPLE KILLED.” They hired....

September 15, 2018
Donald J. Trump@realDonaldTrump

....GWU Research to tell them how many people had died in Puerto Rico (how would they not know this?). This method was never done with previous hurricanes because other jurisdictions know how many people were killed. FIFTY TIMES LAST ORIGINAL NUMBER - NO WAY!

September 15, 2018

FEMA Administrator Brock Long Says Puerto Rico Hurricane Death Toll Numbers are ‘All Over the Place’: The head of FEMA doubled down on Trump’s remarks, saying about the death toll: “It’s hard to tell what’s accurate and what’s not.” Long is currently being investigated for his alleged use of government vehicles for personal travel. (Felicia Somnez / Washington Post)

Donald Trump Doesn’t Care About Puerto Rico: Trump’s and Long’s comments provoked a media storm. Here’s Vann R. Newkirk II for The Atlantic:

It’s easy to see why Trump, a person who sees a partisan conspiracy in every single criticism, would gravitate to this brand of denialism. Indeed, denialism is part of the reason the death toll is so high in the first place. […] He toured mostly wealthier neighborhoods that had not suffered the kind of fallout that other areas in Puerto Rico had. He gleefully tossed out paper towels at a supply-distribution center like a game-show host. There is nothing in the arc of Trump’s response to the island’s woes that suggests anything other than self-delusion, a self-delusion that unfortunately colored the official response.

An Open Letter to President Trump: ‘You Erased My Stepdad From Your Conscience’: Debora Perez the host of Borikén Podcast, pens a letter to Trump about his denial of the 3,000 deaths. (Debora Perez / Latino Rebels)

Hurricane Maria’s Dead: Puerto Rico’s Center for Investigative Journalism, Quartz and the Associated Press have together identified 487 victims of Hurricane Maria. They’ve created an interactive timeline as well as a database to search through those victims’ names.

Watch Colbert Deconstruct Trump’s Puerto Rico Death Toll Conspiracy Theory: Stephen Colbert also took the opportunity to debunk Trump’s claims. (Simon Dumenco / AdAge)

More Than 2,000 Puerto Ricans Applied For Funeral Assistance After Hurricane Maria. FEMA Approved Just 75. To qualify for assistance, FEMA requires a death certificate or letter from a government official that indicates the death was attributed to an emergency or disaster. That’s impossible for most families in Puerto Rico because officials were not counting the deaths correctly. (Nidhi Prakash / BuzzFeed News)

Can Puerto Rico Rebuild Itself?We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to define Puerto Rico as an exciting place to innovate.” – Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló on rebuilding the island (The Atlantic)

Temporary Housing Assistance Ends for Families Displaced by Hurricane Maria: After several extensions, FEMA’s Transitional Sheltering Assistance program has ended for Hurricane Maria survivors. (Van Tieu / NY1)

Puerto Rico Knows More About Hurricane Deaths Than it has Told the Public, Says FEMA Official: Though for months Puerto Rico’s official death toll remained at 64, authorities had privately confirmed 247 deaths. (John D. Sutter / CNN)

Puerto Rico Bond Restructuring Approved in Initial Vote Tally: The deal marks the first consensual debt restructuring under PROMESA. (Luis Valentin Ortiz / Reuters)

FBI Arrests Puerto Rico Senator Facing Corruption Charges: The senator is charged with defrauding his employees while serving as the mayor of Yauco. (Associated Press)

Thanks for reading. If you have news you think should be considered for inclusion in next week’s issue, please email