Being struck by Hurricane Irma was hard for Puerto Ricans, but the aftermath of the second storm, María, has been even more dire. Several weeks since the natural disaster, the recovery appears distant and unsure.
Category 4 Hurricane María brought winds of over 250 kilometers per hour to Puerto Rico, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center, producing extensive damage that could be the final blow to the island's bankrupt economy. Images broadcast by the corporate media show a country where not only money is in short supply, but also food, water, gasoline, and electricity.
Many are looking to save themselves by traveling elsewhere, mainly the United States, and are obliged to spend days in the airport to get a flight. More Puerto Ricans now live in the U.S. than on the island itself, with migration noticeably intensifying since the hurricanes.
The Puerto Rican economy's problems didn't begin with the recent natural disaster. The nation has a public debt of approximately 74 billion dollars, and now faces hurricane damage estimated at some 90 billion.
Even if the debt were eliminated - which does not solely depend on Trump's promises, involving difficult negotiations with several creditors - the island would not immediately recover from the chaos now reigning.
According to the Puerto Rican newspaper El Nuevo Día, Donald Trump suggested in an interview on Fox News that the island's debt should be "wiped out", but that it was easier said than done.
For several years now, the country's economy has been in the red. How can this be explained? Given that Puerto Rico is a free associated state, it has no public treasury. All government income goes to the United States, as the metropolitan power, but the island cannot apply for a financial help, since it is not a state.
According to teleSUR, "Washington decides everything regarding its financial system, foreign relations, migration, and commerce. Puerto Rico cannot sign a trade agreement with any other country."
Donald Trump has not offered the island significant help since the hurricane struck. His short visit on October 3 generated more criticism of his administration, although
he later received governor Ricardo Roselló to organize financial help for reconstruction.
Commentators have criticized the current administration's slow response to the disaster in Puerto Rico, as compared to what happened with Hurricane Harvey in Houston and María in Florida. Trump has perhaps forgotten that there are three million Puerto Ricans attempting to recover from the devastation left by the hurricane.
His visit destroyed any illusions that help from the U.S. might be forthcoming, since action has been even more limited than the applause he received during his stay on the island.
One of his most controversial acts was to lob paper towels to a group of people gathered in a church. This seemed like a good idea to Trump who commented on the excellent quality of the towels, saying that the crowd was having a laugh, calling on him to throw them, according to PL.
On October 12, Trump blamed Puerto Rico for its problems on his Twitter account, and wrote, "We cannot keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. forever!"
The future of the island appears unsure. Millions of dollars are needed and it is going to take a long time for Puerto Rico to recover. The country has been torn to shreds and the majority of its inhabitants are living in chaos. The good intentions of some and the hypocrisy of others are of little help, only time will heal the wounds caused by a system, even more than climate change.