A lot has already been written and said about the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in Puerto Rico. In fact, so much has been said that I wasn’t really sure how I could contribute to the conversation, other than sharing the reporting that others have done. But nobody wants to read a list of links, so I’ve decided to annotate Trumps first post-Maria tweets. If (ha!) he continues to mishandle horrible situations via social media posts, this may have to become a recurring feature.
1- Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico on September 20th. Trump waited five days to tweet on the issue. It feels really bizarre talking about a president’s tweets, but this is the world we live in. Here is a list of some things that he tweeted about between the 20th and the 25th: boycotting the NFL because players were protesting racism and police violence, disinviting Golden State Warrior Steph Curry from the White House after the point guard had already declined the invitation, and a chart declaring Trump the most tweeted-about world leader at the United Nations Global Assembly.
2- I wouldn’t equate recovering from massive hurricanes with “doing great,” but we can leave that alone for now. Deeply rooted inside this opening statement is the twisted idea that Puerto Rico (or Puerto Ricans) should be doing as well as Texas and Florida. That would be difficult, seeing that the different disasters have received very different levels of federal and private support.
3- Puerto Rico’s lack of infrastructure and massive debt did not just happen- they are a product of US colonialism. That is why it is important to view these devastating events not as «natural disasters» but as human ones. Colonialism makes the effects of these hurricanes much worse, both during the storm and throughout the recovery. Also, pre-president Trump wasn’t exactly helping the debt situation when he was involved in a project that cost Puerto Rican taxpayers $33 million.
4- Here is more on Puerto Rico’s electrical grid. Again, these things don’t just happen. Also, these issues are only going to get worse as the recovery continues.
5- This part reminded me of when Attorney General Jeff Sessions complained of a judge from “a little island in the Pacific” (a.k.a., Hawaii) blocking Trump’s illegal travel ban. Intentional or not, this rhetoric isolates former and current colonies from the issues and concerns of the continental US.
6- This was the first moment in which I realized that he still hadn’t said anything about the PEOPLE affected by these storms. Puerto Rico has 3.5 million people (more than 21 states) and about 1.5 of them are without power. His lack of concern for them isn’t surprising, but it is very sad.
7- Is he acknowledging the role of Wall Street greed in Puerto Rico’s debt crisis? That would be great, but also very unlikely, since Trump really wants to deregulate Wall Street. (That’s after he spoke out against Wall Street on the campaign trail.)
8- Other things that Trump has tweeted that must be “dealt with”: protestors (while also calling them criminals and thugs) and terrorists. At some point this was supposed to be a message in support of relief efforts in Puerto Rico.
9- “Food, water and medical” are top priorities, but will arrive slower and more expensively to Puerto Rico thanks to the Jones Act. While the Department of Homeland Security originally declined to waive it, Trump has finally given in to pleas from Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rossello to lift the Jones Act for 10 days. The Jones Act harms Puerto Rico, and should be lifted permanently. Trump has already made it clear why he wont let this happen.
10- Federal relief efforts have supposedly been increased after much criticism. Still, it shouldn’t have taken so long, and the recovery will not be easy. Here is some information on how and where to donate.