Lin-Manuel Miranda wants Congress to know that it’s in their best interest to help the people of Puerto Rico.
Nearly three months after Hurricane Maria devastated the U.S. territory, 36.5 percent of the island still has no power and at least 7 percent of residents don’t have running water, according to government statistics. The dire situation has pushed hundreds of Puerto Ricans, many of whom lost homes and jobs in the aftermath of Maria, to flee the island ― for the U.S. mainland.
Miranda criticized the U.S. government’s response to the hurricane as “painfully slow” in a Washington Post op-ed, published Wednesday. He warned Congress that there would be political consequences if nothing was done to help Puerto Rico.
“The past 84 days have been trying for Puerto Ricans on the island and in the diaspora,” Miranda wrote. “More Puerto Ricans join us on the mainland every day. These are soon-to-be voters, moving to Florida, to Texas, to South Carolina, to Pennsylvania, just in time for midterm elections. It’s becoming increasingly clear that helping Puerto Rico is not just the right thing to do, it’s also the politically smart thing to do.”
The “Hamilton” creator urged Congress to drop Puerto Rico a “lifeline” by eliminating the 20 percent tariff on Puerto Rican products proposed in the GOP’s tax bill, fully funding Medicaid on the island, approving the $94 billion aid package requested by the Puerto Rican government and forgiving the island’s crippling debt.
“There’s no shortage of compassion and goodwill for Puerto Rico among the American people,” Miranda wrote. “But it must be matched by the recognition of our government that the American citizens of Puerto Rico need, demand and require equal treatment.”
He also lamented the daily “struggle to keep Puerto Rico in the national conversation.” It’s a sentiment Ricky Martin echoed at the Global Gift Gala in Miami on Dec. 7, whose proceeds went to benefit Puerto Rico.
“I wish I could be more light about this, but I got to be raw,” the singer said at the event. “I got to be honest. Nothing but injustice. We have been forgotten, and I’m really angry about it. And I’m going to keep talking. And I’m going to be really loud.”
Read Miranda’s full column here.