Having lived in Vieques, Puerto Rico for over a decade I've seen the challenges the island faces, but few can compare to rebuilding that will need to occur after Hurricane Maria. Due to austerity measures forced on them by the vulture funds holding their debts, families were left without the necessary infrastructure to weather these recent storms. Irma has already cost $1 billion, and now Puerto Rico is facing the worst with Maria.
Maria was the strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in almost a century, and has severed communications and crushed its aging electricity infrastructure. San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz has indicated it may take up to six months just to restore power to the island's 3.5 million residents.
These hurricanes are not accidents. They are a direct result of climate change. As is the case throughout the world, low income communities and people of color face the challenges not only of storms such as Irma and Maria, but of pollution, water contamination, and a degraded natural environment that exposes them to disease at a far higher rate. This record breaking Atlantic hurricane season, as well as record breaking climate trends across the world, must be our impetus to take aggressive action to preserve our planet now before it is too late.
Please consider contributing to the organizations below to help Puerto Rico rebuild in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria:
Help Puerto Rico recover from Hurricane Maria. Contributions made to this crowd-funding effort will go to several Puerto Rico-based organizations.
Friends of Puerto Rico. A DC-based nonprofit run by people of the Puerto Rican diaspora that funds arts, education and culture. They have launched a campaign to send money to Puerto Rico.
ConPRmetidos. An organization that aims to connect Puerto Ricans from across the world to build Puerto Rico as a global economy.
Taller Salud. A feminist grassroots organization that supports health in frontline communities, specifically focused on the communities in Loiza. This town has a high population of low income people of color who suffer the most during natural disasters.
Proyecto Matria Amazon Wishlist. Proyecto Matria is a local community organization focused on helping victims of gender violence and poverty. Due to the devastating effects of the hurricane, and the extremely slow response of local and federal government agencies, they have established an emergency fund to provide basic supplies and food for their participants and community.
Vulture funds have exploited Puerto Rico's economic woes and forced millions of people to suffer: 45% of Puerto Ricans live in poverty, including 56% of the children. Thousands of people are fleeing the island for the mainland United States every week, where threadbare social safety nets are still better than what can be provided locally under the cruel policies of austerity. Puerto Ricans are Americans, but are not always treated as such. It is a cruel reminder of our colonial history.
The local Our Revolution group is dedicated to rectifying these injustices and more, but they need your help.
I have no doubt that Puerto Rico will weather this storm and come back stronger than ever, to fight with us for a future of racial, economic, social, and environmental justice.
Former Iowa Director, Bernie 2016
Our Revolution member