The Trump administration has done very little to help Puerto Ricans after Hurricane Maria so corporations are stepping in to help fill the void. In the face of widespread devastation, thirst, hunger and homelessness, Trump handed out paper towels and attacked San Juan’s mayor. Despite the deluded, narcissistic self-promotion that is Trump’s MO, his efforts (or lack thereof) have been a disaster for the island territory.
In the absence of a serious consorted federal response some of Puerto Rico’s poorest people are working to save themselves. People are working through the networks of community organizations to clear the streets and sort debris. Puerto Rico’s community organizations, nonprofits, and businesses are working with the local government. “We don’t give any importance to what Trump says,” community organizer Lucia Cruz Rivera said. “Because here, people are doing work every day.”
Tesla CEO Elon Musk is leading corporate relief efforts to help Puerto Rico recover from Hurricane Maria. As reported by Leon Kaye in a Triple Pundit article, JetBlue is bringing much-needed supplies to the US territory. This 100-day effort includes 35 programs. JetBlue has also launched longer-term economic initiatives such as promoting tourism on the island and providing education grants to Puerto Ricans. Many other companies are also helping out including Carnival and Royal Caribbean, who have sent ships to aid in the relief effort.
Google’s parent company, Alphabet is helping by providing phone service and internet connectivity. The project is called “Loon” and it uses specially adapted weather balloons. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has made a $1.5 million pledge to multiple relief charities, as well as sending employees to the island to help bring the territory back online.
All these laudable efforts to assist the people of Puerto Rico in their
time of need highlight the inaction of the Trump administration. In addition to companies, a wide range of groups and individuals have come to island’s aid.
Organization’s and individuals have condemned the lack of federal response. Early in October, Oxfam, one of the first relief organizations on the ground, criticized the federal government’s efforts. As reported by Newsweek, some nurses working with the American Federation of Teachers have accused the Trump administration of “neglect”.
Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut has called for an investigation into the Trump administration’s relief efforts. Blumenthal called such efforts “misleading” in a letter to the Department of Homeland Security, he wrote: “I write urging you to launch an immediate investigation into the administration’s response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. The American people need to know whether the Trump administration is truly focused on helping the millions of Americans now suffering in Puerto Rico.”
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