Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico on September 20th. The storm destroyed houses, left citizens without food and water, and plunged the island nation into more debt, which caused even more, financial stress since Puerto Rico claimed bankruptcy only four months ago. The storm, one of the most deadly the US territory has ever faced, affected 3.4 million American citizens. The people of Puerto Rico are asking for more government help, but their pleas have not broken through mainstream media. This could be due to a lack of coverage. According to the New York Times, an alarming amount of Americans are unaware that Puerto Rico and the disaster there is not a foreign issue; it’s domestic.
Puerto Rico is not a state, so while the people do not vote in Presidential elections, they do send one non-voting representative to Congress, as they are a United States territory. This means that Hurricane Maria’s landfall is a domestic issue. The lack of coverage of the actual damage caused by the hurricane may be because of the politics of the issue.
The most recent coverage of Puerto Rico has been of President Trump’s “Twitter Wars” with the island government. Trump tweeted numerous times this weekend commenting on the “poor leadership” of San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz and saying “They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort.”
Typically with a disaster of this magnitude, there is bipartisan unity, a throwing away of political differences, and as much help as the government can muster. After Hurricane Sandy back in 2012, republican governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie put aside his differences when he commended President Barack Obama on his relief efforts. In World War Ⅱ, the United States formed a shaky alliance with Russia to topple Hitler and the Nazis. History shows that politics are usually put aside for the greater good.
The United States government is not the only one thinking of Puerto Rico, however. Daddy Yankee, a Puerto Rican pop star who sings the well-known song “Despacito”, donated $100,000 to the Food Bank of Puerto Rico. Senator John McCain is urging his fellow Americans to call their Congressmen and advocate for change. Sites like PBS, BuzzFeed, the New York Times, and Teen Vogue all have numerous articles on how citizens can help their island neighbors. Taking to social media gets the ball rolling, but I urge you to take a step further and publicize ways to help, not just that a disaster happened.
Puerto Rico is home to American citizens that desperately need help. Are you READY to make a change? http://www.redcross.org/about-us/our-work/disaster-relief/hurricane-relief/hurricane-maria-relief-information