The Spiraling Crisis of Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico’s infrastructure, which already faced severe pressures because of the U.S. territory’s huge debt and demands from its creditor, has now been devastated by Hurricane Maria, as Dennis J Bernstein reports.

By Dennis J Bernstein

Though President Trump bragged about the relatively low death toll from Hurricane Maria — 16 at the time of his visit on Tuesday — the number soon jumped to 34 and was expected to rise much more when isolated hospitals could finally report in.

Many of the island’s 59 hospitals were cut off from power and half the island’s 3.4 million inhabitants lacked safe drinking water. The continuing crisis reflected a slow response from the federal government.

A devastated area in San Juan, Puerto Rico in the aftermath left by Hurricane Maria, Sept. 23, 2017. (Puerto Rico National Guard photo by Sgt. Jose Ahiram Diaz-Ramos)

Puerto Rican Jewish feminist writer, poet, and activist Aurora Levins Morales is a nationally known Puerto activist. In the following interview, Morales expressed her outrage at Trump’s racist response to the Puerto Rican hurricane disaster.

Morales is the author of Medicine Stories, Remedios: Stories of Earth and Iron from the History of Puertorriqueñas, and Kindling: Writings On the Body, and co-authored two books with her mother, Rosario Morales.

She created the Vehicle for Change project to research, design, fund and build her chemically accessible mobile home, and is currently traveling around the United States writing about the confluence of ecology, health and social justice struggles for her radio blog Letters from Earth, broadcast on Flashpoints on Pacifica Radio. She writes and performs with Sins Invalid, a Bay Area disability justice performance project. I spoke to Morales on October 2.

Dennis Bernstein: Aurora Levins Morales has been watching the situation very closely. This is your homeland and you must be heartbroken.

Aurora Levins Morales: I am devastated. All of us are desperate for information and there is very little to be had. Most of the island is still out of communication. My home is in a remote mountainous area in the west of the island that has received no help yet at…

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