Things That Matter

Over 1 Year Ago, Puerto Rico’s Hurricane Maria Killed Nearly 3,000 People (Instead Of The 64 People Originally Reported)

We’re coming up on almost a year since Category 5 Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017. The governor of Puerto Rico recently officially raised the death toll from 64 to 2,975. It took nearly a year for the island to get full power restored and a lot of people are far from recovered.

Just this week, some shocking news hit the airwaves.

The government of Puerto Rico has raised the death toll to almost 3,000 people.

@DavidBegnaud / Twitter

The number is representative of the people who died after the storm passed but still because of the storm. The entire island was out of power for months leaving many with necessary things to live. However, there is still a lot of disputes on the official death toll.

The official death toll by the federal government is 64.

@NYDailyNews / Twitter

CNN and the Centro de Periodismo Investigativo sued the Puerto Rican government to release the death records, and the judge forced the government’s hand.

Puerto Rico is nowhere near recovered.

@ajplus / Twitter

Just last week (10 months after the hurricane), power to most residents was finally restored. Highways haven’t been restored, the energy grid isn’t complete and the Puerto Rican government is requesting $139 billion in recovery funds. There is still a lot of work to do.

Meanwhile, Trump is funneling our tax money into a space military.

@Weinsteinlaw / Twitter

Puerto Rico still needs help recovering. Some would think that it is more important to help Puerto Rico rebuild than to create a space force.

People are screaming into the Twitter-verse.

@LynxSavage / Twitter

We don’t expect a reasonable response because there is no reason. It’s inexcusable to scapegoat people looking for safe harbor and call them aliens while funneling our money into a fake bid for space.

What about our problems here on Earth?

@tanzinavega / Twitter

Hurricane Maria is the worst natural disaster in U.S. history. The structural damage and the staggering death toll need to be addressed with all the available and necessary resources.

Thankfully, Senators are speaking out with this new information.

@SENWARREN / Twitter

When Trump visited Puerto Rico, he tossed paper towels out into the crowd. And when he tweeted about relief efforts, it was to say that they were unappreciated (rather than expected of the government).

People are telling Trump where he can shove his paper towels.

@GlennC1 / Twitter

Puerto Rican recovery efforts still matter, especially with another hurricane season upon us, making the island vulnerable to more natural disaster hits. Let’s be honest: Puerto Rico has not received proportional relief efforts.

There are some studies and people that say that closer to 5,000 people died because of Hurricane Maria.

@andreagonram / Twitter

Here a major reason that the U.S. federal government has been reluctant to provide meaningful aid:

  • Puerto Rico is effectively a colony, forced to pay taxes, but not receive aid in turn.

Latino celebrities have done more to help Puerto Rico than the U.S. government.

@ColoringApril @Jenniffer2012 / Twitter
Without any fanfare, Pitbull was one of the first celebrities to swiftly donate his private plane to assist in bringing in clean water, food, and medical supplies to the devastated island in the aftermath. He even brought cancer patients to the U.S. to receive necessary treatments.

Since then, Mr. Worldwide has said he sees President Trump’s “true colors.”

@pitbull / Twitter

In an interview with CNN, Pitbull said, “his true colors are real simple. It’s about money, it’s about power, and when you’re raised that way, it goes to show you what your true priorities are.”

Jennifer Lopez has been one of the biggest champions of Puerto Rico.

@jlo / Instagram

Lopez posted an emotional video on her Instagram during a time when she still hadn’t heard back from her family back home. She urged her over 10 million video viewers to donate to the Puerto Rican’s First Lady’s cause: Unidos por Puerto Rico.

J.Lo and Marc Anthony joined forces to create their own initiative: Somos Una Voz.

@MarcAnthonyUSA / Twitter

The organization aims to bring together sports and entertainment celebrities to use their platforms and talents to raise money for recovery efforts.

Daddy Yankee is one of many other artists who joined the coalition.

@PopCrave / Twitter

The funds have gone to help rebuild homes lost during the storm through Habitat for Humanity, distributing food and water during the months after that PR went without, and so much more.

Puerto Rican icon Ricky Martin went in on the ground to help residents.

@ricky_martin / Twitter

He went to small beach towns like Loiza, which was without food, water or even a telephone line to communicate. Martin came in with trucks of water bought by the millions of dollars he raised for relief efforts.

Lin-Manuel Miranda has never stopped tweeting about his home island.

@lin_manuel / Instagram

Six months after the storm, eight months after the storm, just last week, Miranda refuses to let Puerto Rico slip from the news cycles while people are still suffering and injustice continues.

Luis Fonsi joined John Leguizamo in a PSA.

@FonsiDominicana / Twitter

While Fonsi tried to continue with his tour, he couldn’t without making a PSA to raise awareness. He even told TIME, “We’re all trying to be professional because, as they say, the show must go on. [But] it’s obvious we’re all heavy-hearted and concerned.”

Gina Rodriguez is a proud Puerto Rican and has used her platform for good.

@hereisgina / Twitter

Both to raise funds but also raise expectations and destroy stereotypes that people have about Puerto Ricans.

Literally, people don’t understand how more hasn’t been made of the issues.

@TomNamako / Twitter

The people of Puerto Rico are Americans. They deserve better. They deserve to be treated like all the other Americans who are facing a long recovery.

So what can you do to help?

@AJENews / Twitter

Keep donating and keep talking about Puerto Rico. The most important thing you can do is keep Puerto Rico in the mainstream consciousness so we can make some real change. Fight with your words and plans, not verbal attacks.


READ: J.Lo And A.Rod Share Moments From Their Trip To Puerto Rico And Announce A Donation Of 2 Million Dollars

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Today, Puerto Rico Celebrates Emancipation Day–the Day When the Island Officially Abolished Slavery

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Today, Puerto Rico Celebrates Emancipation Day–the Day When the Island Officially Abolished Slavery

Photo via George W. Davis, Public Domain

Today, March 22nd marks Día de la Abolición de Esclavitud in Puerto Rico–the date that marks the emancipation of slaves in Puerto Rico. In Puerto Rico, enslaved peoples were emancipated in 1873–a full decade after the U.S. officially abolished slavery. But unlike the U.S. mainland, Puerto Rico celebrates today as an official holiday, where many businesses are closed.

The emancipation of Puerto Rican slaves was a very different process than the United States’. For one, the emancipation was gradual and over three years.

When the Spanish government abolished slavery in Puerto Rico 1873, enslaved men and women had to buy their freedom. The price was set by their “owners”. The way the emancipated slaves bought their freedom was through a process that was very similar to sharecropping in the post-war American south. Emancipated slaves farmed, sold goods, and worked in different trades to “buy” their freedom.

In the same Spanish edict that abolished slavery, slaves over the age of 60 were automatically freed. Enslaved children who were 5-years-old and under were also automatically freed.

Today, Black and mixed-race Puerto Ricans of Black descent make up a large part of Puerto Rico’s population.

The legacy of enslaved Black Puerto Ricans is a strong one. Unlike the United States, Puerto Rico doesn’t classify race in such black-and-white terms. Puerto Ricans are taught that everyone is a mixture of three groups of people: white Spanish colonizers, Black African slaves, and the indigenous Taíno population.

African influences on Puerto Rican culture is ubiquitous and is present in Puerto Rican music, cuisine, and even in the way that the island’s language evolved. And although experts estimate that up to 60% of Puerto Ricans have significant African ancestry, almost 76% of Puerto Ricans identified as white only in the latest census poll–a phenomenon that many sociologists have blamed on anti-blackness.

On Puerto Rico’s Día de la Abolición de Esclavitud, many people can’t help but notice that the island celebrates a day of freedom and independence when they are not really free themselves.

As the fight for Puerto Rican decolonization rages on, there is a bit of irony in the fact that Puerto Rico is one of the only American territories that officially celebrates the emancipation of slaves, when Puerto Rico is not emancipated from the United States. Yes, many Black Americans recognize Juneteenth (June 19th) as the official day to celebrate emancipation from slavery, but it is not an official government holiday.

Perhaps, Puerto Rico celebrates this historical day of freedom because they understand how important the freedom and independence is on a different level than mainland Americans do.

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Puerto Rico Lost Its Giant Telescope But Now It Hopes To Build A Giant Space Port

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Puerto Rico Lost Its Giant Telescope But Now It Hopes To Build A Giant Space Port

Puerto Rico’s famed Arecibo telescope collapsed in December after years of neglect and damage from earthquakes and hurricanes. But the island is looking to the future with the hope that the U.S. territory could become a major hub for space exploration as a potential space port.

Puerto Rico seeks to be a hub for international space travel.

Puerto Rico may best be known for its tourist packed beaches and its bankrupt finances, but as the island continues to recover from the economic disasters in the wake of hurricanes and earthquakes, it’s looking to the future.

And to many officials on the island, the future is in space exploration. The Caribbean island has put out a request for information, or RFI, seeking companies interested in turning a sleepy airport at the base of the El Yunque National Rainforest into a space port.

The island’s location between North and South America and close to the Equator gives it “viable trajectories to a large range of desirable low earth orbit launch inclinations,” Puerto Rico’s Port Authority said in a notice posted Friday.

The potential base could be a major boost to the Puerto Rican economy.

The site is currently a small airport that already houses an 11,000 feet runway and offers flights to various points in the territory. But with the existing infrastructure, officials state it could easily be converted into a space port.

If the site does generate interest, it would be a major boost to Puerto Rico’s small but vibrant aerospace sector. Honeywell Aerospace, Pratt & Whitney and Collins Aerospace all have manufacturing plants on the island.

Puerto Rico would also join a growing number of U.S. states and jurisdictions that are vying for pieces of the commercial launch business, which is expected to become a trillion-dollar market over the next decade.

The executive director of the Puerto Rico Ports Authority (APPR), Joel A. Pizá Batiz, believes that “The aerospace industry is one of the economic sectors that is experiencing the most rapid growth. In fact, in the midst of the pandemic it was one of the few sectors that did not receive much impact,” he explained.

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