Most thinking people know either subconsciously, or consciously why the US has been slow to respond to the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands brought on by Hurricane Maria. It is because the islanders aren’t considered Americans (despite their US citizenship), they aren’t White and they are broke!
According to reports coming out of the islands, people are in crisis mode. In Puerto Rico they have no power, the electrical grid has been knocked out. Gas is in short supply, making generators close to useless. They have little water. The little news we have gotten has pictured Puerto Ricans bathing in streams and getting water out of creeks. Food is still available, but it is limited and with no way to refrigerate anything it is limited to what folks can consume right away. Exacerbating the crisis cell phone towers have been practically wiped out, making communication almost impossible.
Moreover the slow response is consistent with the US mainland’s “legal” relationship with the islands.
Puerto Rico and other US territories are not States because over a hundred years ago the US determined that they could not become incorporated into the United States, because they belonged to ALIEN RACES.
In 1901 a legal ruling by the US Supreme Court led by Justice Henry Billings Brown declared that Puerto Rico and other territories the US acquired from Spain at the time, should not be given full citizenship rights because they were of ALIEN RACES and would not be able to understand “Anglo Saxon principles.”(read as bourgeoisie not working class principles)
Justice Henry Billings Brown was the same avowed racist who wrote the Court’s majority decision that concluded that “separate was equal” in the Plessy vs Ferguson case, which legalized the racial/racist caste system of segregation we know as Jim Crow.
Upon closer examination the judge may have had a point. Who can understand “Anglo Saxon principles?” In fact the term sounds like an oxymoron. Anglo Saxon (bourgeoisie) principles? What exactly would those be? “Grab em by the p—“ “ F— you, pay me,”” Hands up m-f-r,” “Stop resisting,” “Oh you thought our signature on that treaty meant something,” “B— better have my money,” “separate is equal,” “all people are created equal except us, we are superior?”
Consequently, none of the US territories can participate in US presidential elections and none have official representation in the US Congress. Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have representatives in the Congress, but they have no voting rights. In other words though they are officially citizens they have no representation: and thus no political voice.
Right on cue, the US government never misses an opportunity to show its true colors when disaster strikes populations that are unofficially considered second class or “other.” The slow response tells us all we need to know about this government. And despite the government’s denials, the response is indeed slow.
Incredibly they have also refused to rescind the Jones Act which would allow other countries to send aide as well as allowing the island to purchase necessities competitively. The Jones Act is a vestige of the colonial era which dictates that only ships with a US flag and US crew can dock on the island.
The government knew that Hurricane Maria was going to hit Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands and they knew it was going to be catastrophic. The government should have had Navy ships, helicopter carriers, steaming toward the island immediately after the storm hit, loaded with food, water, generators, fuel, and medical supplies. There was no excuse for the medical ship the, The USNS Comfort to not have already docked in Puerto Rico.
This is absolutely inexcusable!
Compare the US government’s response to natural disasters to their preparedness for war. When the government went to war in Iraq it got tens of thousands of troops on the ground along with logistical support in 36 hours.
“We do not have a culture of preparedness in this country,” said Brock Long an administrator with Homeland Security, who aimed the remark at workers, rather than the government which has an obligation, an unwritten contract to assure the safety of its citizens.
Adding to Puerto Rico’s woes was the president of the US Donald Trump, the Great Distractor, who redirected the attention of the majority of the American public from the disaster with his foolish tweets, attempting to undermine the very Constitution he is sworn to uphold.
Instead the head savage, rather than rallying resources to aide Puerto Rico, not so subtly tried to blame the island for the damage done by the Hurricane, hinting that the poor infrastructure was to blame. He also chose to remind folks that they owe Wall Street money.
No doubt, the island has been suffering economically for quite some time some of it is due to its need to serve the mainland and consequently has become less dependent on agriculture. The island was about $70 billion in debt and as a result the mainland organized a fiscal control board to help pay back the debt, which usually results in austerity measures that require the reduction of social services for the people.
Even the Big Business press has abandoned the cause of the little Brown island. The New York Times mentioned the disaster below the fold yesterday. There has been some news coverage by CNN and major news outlets, but not the continuous coverage that should be occurring.
The truth is there is a pecking order in this society, which brags about being the most advanced in the history of the world. But when it comes to simple human compassion and the ability to see humanity in all people, the US government is as backward as has ever existed and it never misses an opportunity to make this clear.
Calling on all lovers of humanity to do what you can to aide our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico.
justice then peace