The New York Times reported today that the Governor of Puerto Rico is warning the situation there was in danger of becoming a humanitarian crisis:
“Puerto Rico, which is part of the United States, can turn into a humanitarian crisis,” Governor Rosselló said. “To avoid that, recognize that we Puerto Ricans are American citizens; when we speak of a catastrophe, everyone must be treated equally.”
In my opinion, it’s disheartening that the Governor has to remind anyone, citizens or politicians, that Puerto Ricans are US citizens. This speaks the continuing disenfranchisement of Puerto Rico; it has always been a neo-colony to which the US only offers second-class citizenship.
The way the US has managed Puerto Rico’s financial crisis exposed the true nature of Puerto Rico’s status. The US response to Maria has already begun to expose Puerto Rico’s disenfranchisement. The recent plea by Congressional members (Nydia M. Velázquez D-NY, Luis V. Gutiérrez D-IL, José E. Serrano D-NY, Darren Soto D-FL, Adriano Espaillat D-NY, Joyce Beatty D-OH, and Joe Crowley D-NY) to temporarily suspend the Jones Act is a clear example of the need to circumvent neo-colonial arrangements to bolster second-class citizenship.
The devastation from a natural disaster like Maria will be amplified by the devastation that US neo-colonialism and neoliberal capitalism have already wrought.