The island of Puerto Rico can’t catch a break.
There have been literally thousands of earthquakes rocking the island. Last week, a 6.4 magnitude quake struck, damaging homes and leaving thousands of people living in shelters, on sidewalks, or in their damaged homes without electricity and running water.
Days later, the island was hit again with a 5.9 magnitude quake. This was the 12th earthquake- just that day.
Residents live in constant fear of the next shake. Dwindling supplies are worrisome. President Trump has declared a state of emergency.
Following the quakes’ damage to the island, which still hadn’t recovered from the devastation of Hurricane Marria in 2017, the administration approved sending $16 billion to the US territory, under specific conditions designed to combat corruption.
Several examples of poor managements of resources sent by the US after Hurricane Maria surfaced in the months following, where large supply stocks of water, cots, diapers, etc. were located in different cities. Food, water, and medicine had been discovered in multiple locations and had either gone bad or been eaten by animals.
Faintly remember 45 being blamed for this https://t.co/hqGVZprKk0
— zach (@Pyrrhvc) January 19, 2020
In 2018, an executive order was signed by then-governor Ricardo Rossello saying government construction workers have a set minimum wage of $15 per hour. One of President Trump’s conditions for the disaster relief aid is that workers can be paid less than that amount.
Another condition deals with the country needing to develop a new system of property and deed registration, and yet another is that the funds must not be spent on the electrical grid.
The system took months and hundreds of thousands of dollars to rebuild after Hurricane Maria. Many legislatures in the territory have been indicted on recent charges of misuse of government land, bribery, and fraud.
President Trump insisted that in order to receive the financial aid, Puerto Rico will have to new oversight authority to the island’s federally mandated Fiscal Control Board to better monitor the federal funding.
Democrats balked at the fact that the aide came with strings attached.
The top House Committee democrat responsible for Puerto Rico oversight, Arizona Representative Raul Grijalva, voiced his anger at the conditions for disaster aid.
“If the president neglected recovery efforts on the mainland as badly as he’s done in Puerto Rico, we’d be talking about another Hurricane Katrina,” Grijalva said.
“The president considers disaster recovery money nothing more than a bargaining chip in his petty … political vendetta against people of color.
Claiming you’re worried about corruption when in reality you’re illegally withholding appropriated funding as part of a personal political agenda is itself a corrupt act.”
The mouthy representative was joined by Miami Representative Donna Shalala, who said:
“It’s been almost 2 1/2 years since Hurricane Maria devastated the island, but the Trump administration continues delaying the disbursement of billions of dollars in disaster relief for Puerto Rico. Rebuilding Puerto Rico cannot continue to be postponed due to bureaucratic inertia in Washington.”
This statement came after President Trump released his own statement, saying that Puerto Rico was holding up its own disaster relief through noncompliance. In a tweet last April, he said:
“So many wonderful people, but with such bad Island leadership and with so much money wasted.”
The President placed a hold on the territory’s additional $8 million in aid.
Nancy Pelosi called for the President to “cease and desist that illegal activity.”
In completely related news, Puerto Rico government officials have been caught in yet another fraudulent scam:
Thousands of dollars-worth of emergency supplies (cases of water, cots, baby food, etc.) were found in a 43,000 square foot government-owned warehouse in the City of Ponce, which was allegedly “forgotten” by officials. The warehouse is reportedly owned by Puerto Rico’s Company of Commerce and Export.
Governor Wanda Vazquez immediately fired the director of Puerto Rico’s emergency management agency, Carlos Acevedo.
“There are thousands of people who have made sacrifices to help those in the south,” the Governor said, “and it is unforgivable that resources were kept in the warehouse.”
Acevedo released a statement prior to his firing, saying:
“It is important to emphasize that no citizen has been denied any of the items found at this place. At the moment, there is no shortage of any of these articles and they are being distributed to the people who need it; data that can be verified in the shelters and base camps.”
Perhaps Acevedo will change his tune now that he will have to wait for rations and supplies just like everyone else.
The Governor has ordered a “full investigation.”
Vazquez said, amid protestors gathering outside of her mansion and calling for her resignation:
“In the last days there have been actions by members of the government that are not acceptable. I will not permit this type of conduct in my government.”
Since then, several more officials have been fired in relation to the hoarded supplies, Housing Secretary Fernando Gil and Department of Family Secretary Glorimar Andujar among them.
Protestors remain outside of the Vazquez mansion, and are telling reporters that they plan on staying there until Vazquez resigns.
This is reminiscent to last summer, where protestors demanded the resignation of then-governor Rossello. Then, too, they did not leave until Rossello did in fact resign.
Secretary of state, Elmer Roman, said he was unaware of the warehouse contents. It is rumored that more warehouses and supplies are expected to be located. Roman commented:
“The instructions are clear: All of the supplies that are available will be distributed.”
Well, shucks, thanks, Mr. Secretary.
The mayor of Ponce, Maria Melendez, also said she had no idea.
“This is outrageous,” The Mayor said. “Everyone knows what us mayors went through after Hurricane Maria to try and get help to our cities and how we’ve worked these weeks to provide basic supplies to people affected by earthquakes. Those involved owe us an explanation.”
I have a feeling that President Trump would agree with you, Mrs. Mayor.
The mayor continued:
“I spent several days requesting cots and water. They sent me to Cabo Rojo for the cots and to San Juan for the water. If I had known that those supplies were there, I would have demanded that they be taken out immediately.”
Following the firings of several agency heads, Mayor Melendez tweeted:
“I commend Gov. @wandavazqueza for her swift action to address the unacceptable findings today impacting Ponceños. Our people suffered greatly bc of how Hurricane María was managed. We cannot allow history to repeat itself. Thank you Governor for your transparency & diligence.”
A blogger, Lorenzo Delgado, live-streamed a mass of people breaking into the warehouse to distribute the much-needed supplies to residents.
In all her grace, Governor Vazquez said that she would not be prosecuting the residents who broke into the warehouse.
The Governor also said she was worried that the warehouse discovery and the fallout would affect the credibility of the territorial government in Washington.
It’s almost…almost…like President Trump was attempting to not waste our money throwing cash and supplies at a poorly run government full of corruption, miscommunication, and irresponsibility.
Hilariously, Nancy Pelosi tweeted just days before the discovery: “Our Fellow Americans in Puerto Rico have waited too long for the Trump Admin to release billions of dollars in urgently needed disaster assistance. By illegally withholding these funds, the Amin has harmed countless survivors and prevented Puerto Rico from rebuilding.”
Countless survivors are indeed being harmed, but it isn’t by our President.
At the discovery of the desperately needed emergency supplies, Donald Trump, Jr., along with thousands of other Americans, in and out of Puerto Rico, blasted democrats for blaming President Trump for the supply-less citizens of the island.
Talking of a political vendettas, several activists are now under investigation in relation to the supply withholding, including San Jaun Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz who spoke out against the President after Hurricane Maria, saying he didn’t want to help “brown people.”
The people of Puerto Rico are suffering, and the left is using them to paint President Trump as a racist bad guy.
But, yes. Darn the United States President and his petty political vendetta against people of color!