Trump Brings “Slow Death” to People of Puerto Rico
In the Name of Humanity, This Regime Must Be Driven from Power

October 13, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper |



On September 29, nine days after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz said, If we don't get the food and the water into people's hands, we are going to see something close to a genocide. … the world will see how we are treated not as second-class citizens but as animals that can be disposed of.” [Emphasis added.]

Now, 23 days since the storm, what do we see?

Eighty-five percent of Puerto Rico’s power grid is not operating and up to 90 percent of its 3.4 million people are still without electricity… over one-third without drinkable water… 90 percent of roads impassable… communications shattered. Most hospitals are open but depend on generators that break down or run out of fuel, causing frantic evacuations.

A team of volunteers in a remote area reports they can only provide each family with two bottles of water, a pack of smoked sausage and some Skittles each day. People are drinking from mountain streams in which corpses of dead animals are rotting or from polluted waters of toxic “Superfund” sites.

The health crisis is intensifying—5,000 dialysis patients have had their life-saving treatments reduced by 25 percent. People are caring for frail elders at home, without water or air conditioning in the tropical heat. Rare bacterial diseases are killing people. Essential drugs are in short supply.

The majority are out of work, consumed with survival from morning to night or trying to flee the island altogether. Day after day, people line up before dawn and wait for hours to pick through rotting vegetables in supermarkets or to get a few bottles of water, a bag of ice, a few gallons of fuel, or money from an ATM.

Overwhelmingly, people report that any aid they’ve received has come from volunteers or private charities, not Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

And how has Donald Trump, head of the richest government in the world, responded to this huge humanitarian crisis?

By blaming the Puerto Rican people, saying “they want everything to be done for them” and claiming that Puerto Rico was “already a disaster”—a basket case that can’t be helped; by complaining that Puerto Rico has thrown the U.S. budget “out of whack”; by staging disgusting photo ops, like tossing paper towels to people; and lying about the “fantastic job” he’s doing.

On October 12, Trump lashed out again, saying the problem is Puerto Rico’s “total lack of accountability” and threatening, “We cannot keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders … in P.R. forever.” This after three weeks and having accomplished very little, as heat, fear, thirst and hunger stalk millions. In contrast, FEMA is still active in the Northeast U.S., five years after Superstorm Sandy hit in 2012.

Trump reinstated the Jones Act, which bars non-U.S. ships from Puerto Rico and is a major cause of high prices there, and an obstacle to relief effort.

Not only is the immediate relief effort endangered, but the Puerto Rican government is carrying $74 billion in debt to imperialist banks and hedge funds as a result of the systematic U.S. plunder. It is now on the brink of bankruptcy—of being unable to even cover Medicaid payments, pay healthcare workers, or provide other vital services. The Trump regime’s response to this imminent catastrophe? Proposing a $4.9 billion loan, which will drive the territory even deeper into debt. (Meanwhile, Trump asked for a $16 billion payout—not a loan—to cover the debt of the federal flood insurance program, which promotes construction of homes and small businesses in known flood plains in Texas and elsewhere.)

Nor has the U.S. committed to rebuilding Puerto Rico’s destroyed infrastructure, without which the great majority of Puerto Ricans, particularly the 45 percent who were already below the poverty line, will suffer drastic worsening of their lives and health.

Mayor Cruz rightly said that Trump’s tweets “Condemn us to a slow death of nondrinkable water, lack of food, lack of medicine, while you keep others eager to help from reaching us.”

So now a clear verdict must be delivered. What is going on in Puerto Rico is not a matter of “incompetence,” of Trump “not knowing” that Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens, nor of logistical problems. It is a purposeful manifestation of this regime’s fascist character and its hatred and contempt for the lives of nonwhite, Spanish-speaking people.

Puerto Rico is a U.S. “territory,” but it is also the heart and the homeland of the Puerto Rican nation, the source of the unique culture of the Puerto Rican people—the home that holds them together even as millions have had to move to the U.S. mainland. Its territorial (in other words, colonial) status was not voluntary—it is the result of the conquest of the island by U.S. imperialism in 1898, and the brutal crushing of repeated waves of popular resistance. 

Now, on top of this whole ugly imperialist history, the Trump/Pence regime is causing new levels of suffering and unnecessary death—and threatening to impose long-term devastation on the island, making it effectively unlivable for hundreds of thousands.

This is a wholesale attack on the very existence and national culture of the Puerto Rican people, and deserving of being called “genocidal.”

This massive crime against humanity is happening before our eyes. This cannot be allowed to continue. It is, and must be resisted by not only Puerto Ricans but by all people of conscience. Standing by as the regime carries out the cruel and racist strangulation of the island and people of Puerto Rico is not an option. All this drives home the reality that this regime must be driven from power at the earliest possible time.

November 4: It Begins. Drive Out the Trump/Pence Fascist Regime.



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