Showing posts with label San Juan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label San Juan. Show all posts

September 28, 2017

Puerto Rico Needs The Military Now! Jones Act? Lifted But Why 2 wks Late?

Carmen Yulín Cruz, San Juan mayor, PR


First on the news today is Trump deciding this morning to Waive the Jones Act.
Question: What is the Jones Act and Why was it not Waived as soon as the Super Storm Maria hit or as soon as it was asked to be waived.

1. Jones Act is about a 100 year old law put in place to keep mainly the British and the French from having access to United States new Territory and a new nation, including the mainland USA.
As time passed, now we now get goods from all trading partners through agreements.
It was kept in place like in Puerto Rico to simply keep more control on the Island non state and to make more money to the mainland from the small island.
If goods have to come from the mainland by mainland ships like the agreement stipulates (even many American owners of ships don't even carry the flag, which disqualifies them)
And by American workers you can imagine the cost. Puerto Rico could not even get Coffee from the next door  Dominican Republic unless it came to the mainland and it was loaded into American ships by American workers. American ships could not even Pick up at ports in Dominican Republic. It had to go to the mainland first. Money from the workers making 5-10 times in US ports compared to what a Puerto Rican worker makes at PR docks. A very nice way for the mainland to make money but the unfairness comes from PR's being American Citizens if it means anything nowadays USA is not a poor country but the island of PR is Poor, very poor compared to any state, even though they still contribute their share of money coming to Washington, not that is important right now but Trump keeps bringing the PR debt on his TV appearances and tweets.

2. $Money$ 'If it's making money for the government in the mainland lets just not rush on this.'
This far away Puerto Ricans would probably won't even know what the law is or maybe the situation passes and it dosn't have to be waived. The problem is PR has been asking for it since at least the beginning of the storm. May be Puerto Ricans didn't know about it last year but they learn about it when Trump waived the law for Texas and Florida before the Republican governors even asked for it. The excuse is now that it was not asked through channels. What channels? Well, The mayor of San Juan used the satellite phone NYC Mayor Di Blassio flew out there and gave her one and  CNN, MSNBC and others but these two stations were heard in Washington because the asking for a waiver was Universal and not once at news cycle at the  time and they have the resources to transmit from Puerto Rico with their reporters there without using the non working antennas. Antennas are another issue but I will leave it alone for now. But I will ask what do you do when your antenna or 167 antennas come down? Particularly when you have a military an expert in establishing communications where there was none like in Iraq just to name one.
That brings me to this article of what we need and is the MILITARY! We took it for granted that it would be involved but such was just a pipe dream. I had someone tell me there are soldiers here, they not giving us water or food but they are here. The soldiers were from the local PR National Guard and they had no supplies to give out. They were looking for the dead and trapped.

"It's not like we weren't warned" 
On September 18, Carlos Mercader, the executive director of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration, said in an opinion piece in The Hill about what was coming, even when the U.S. territory was helping victims from other Caribbean islands who were hurt by Hurricane Irma. 
“Today, for the first time in 85 years, Puerto Rico lies in the direct path of a hurricane. In its wake, that safe haven will remain strong.” 
 San Juan mayor: 'This is a big S.O.S.' 9:56
A day later, on September 19, the government of Puerto Rico sent the following email to media with this subject line: “Governor Ricardo Rosselló: It is time to act and evacuate.” 
"No generation has seen a hurricane like this since San Felipe II in 1928. This is an unprecedented atmospheric system,” Rosselló said. “I want to remind you that the Emergency Management team will not be available to help you once the winds reach 50 miles per hour. We need to keep in mind that we must also protect the lives of these first responders. It's time to act and look for a safe place if you live in flood-prone areas or in wooden or vulnerable structures.” 
A few hours later, Hurricane María began a path of destruction through Puerto Rico that virtually isolated the U.S. territory from the rest of the world for almost 24 hours. All the dire predictions had tragically proven true. 


Marlene Ojeda carries her son Esaid Marrero through the Rio San Lorenzo de Morovis, after the bridge that crosses the river was swept away by Hurricane Maria, in Morovis, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017. They crossed after visiting family on the other side of the river. Gerald Herbert / AP

You would think the United States federal government, as well as the U.S. media, were listening to the warnings from the Puerto Rican government, especially given that the country had already been hit by Harvey in Texas and Irma in Florida. 
But they weren’t. There was no urgency. As Maria was slamming Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands, on September 20, the White House was being very vague about its response. 
A few days later, while President Trump complained about the NFL and U.S. media outlets felt obligated to cover news about the NFL, it was inherently clear that Maria had indeed destroyed a place where close to 3.5 million American citizens live, causing what one person said was “an atomic bomb of nature.”Now, one week since Maria, the federal government is painting a picture that it has been helping Puerto Rico all along, even though reports from the island would completely contradict that
The fact remains: the government of Puerto Rico had issued serious warnings around September 18 and the United States, and the U.S. media too, didn’t really crank up its response until after it was too late. 
Now, while there is talk that President Trump will visit Puerto Rico and help the island in any way he can (but don’t mention a real relief package), it shouldn’t be Trump who should visit: it must be a massive military operation that will airlift and rescue the vulnerable people who has now been suffering in a zone of impending death for a week. 

Image: Water Containers

People queue to fill containers with water from a tank truck after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria on September 26, 2017 in Canovanas, Puerto Rico. Carlos Garcia Rawlins / Reuters

This is not as extreme of an idea, given that the last week in Puerto Rico has been catastrophic. This is no longer about FEMA press releases or pleas for help from local government officials. People's lives are at stake and the only option now are the U.S. armed forces. 
In addition, the idea already has advocates on both sides of the partisan aisle. On Tuesday night, MSNBC contributor and Republican strategist Steve Schmidt essentially said it was the only option. 
"Our fellow Americans are suffering," said Schmidt. "We are an immensely powerful country. The full might of the United States military should be deployed here." 
Before Schmidt’s comments, Rep. Luis Gutiérrez, the Illinois Democrat of Puerto Rican descent, was also echoing similar sentiments
“There is no food in supermarkets. We need an airlift. We need an effort the scale of Dunkirk,” Gutiérrez said, “We know the U.S. is capable. We can invade foreign countries with hundreds of thousands of troops, flawless communications, food and security. We need the same effort now.” 


A man walks on a highway divider while carrying his bicycle in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria on September 21, 2017 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Ricardo Arduengo / AFP - Getty Images file

So far, the Department of Defense is following a more traditional response and officially taking over operations. But that response would have worked if the U.S. was paying serious attention the the Puerto Rican government last week. 
This week is different. People are starving. People are desperate. A real crisis is everywhere, but especially outside of San Juan. Massive efforts need to begin. 
If America truly wants to be great again and keep its end of the colonial bargain it holds with Puerto Rico, this is the only option left, and if President Trump wants to avoid his own Katrina, it’s time for a large deployment of troops to arrive. 
Julio Ricardo Varela is co-host of the 2017 Webby-nominated In The Thickpodcast and senior digital editor of, the website for NPR’s Latino USA, a 2014 Peabody-winning show anchored by Maria Hinojosa and produced by The Futuro Media Group. He is also the founder of

The introduction written by Adam Gonzalez,
 Publisher of Adamfoxie Blog International

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