Let's not forget about Puerto Rico

Illustration by Blake Fernandez

President Donald Trump seems to have taken every opportunity to let Puerto Rico suffer in its time of need. His childish antics and the consistent trend of making everything about himself have put Puerto Ricans in danger.

In 2017, Hurricane Maria struck the island, leaving 3 million people without power, 300 million homes destroyed and $100 billion in damage, according to Rolling Stone. The same article reported that Hurricane Maria caused 3,057 deaths and is the third costliest storm in United States history.

After the disaster, Republicans and Democrats agreed to provide $12 billion to aid relief over the course of four years. However, Trump had to intervene in the budget talks and demand it be cut to $5.7 billion, as stated by Vanity Fair.

It’s obvious that Trump doesn’t care about the lives of Puerto Ricans. It seems like Trump only views Puerto Rico as a leech on the U.S. by being a massive financial burden. When the death toll of Hurricane Maria was reported, Trump took to Twitter to suggest the numbers were inflated by his political opponents to make him look bad.

Trump tweeted Sept. 13, 2018, “This was done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible when I was successfully raising Billions of Dollars to help rebuild Puerto Rico.”

On Jan. 7, after a series of small tremors, Puerto Rico experienced a 6.4 magnitude earthquake. Yet again, the island suffered major electrical grid issues. According to The Atlantic, the Costa Sur power plant was seriously damaged. This is a major issue because it generated 25% of the island’s electrical needs. Since the infrastructure was still recovering from the previous natural disasters, people went without electricity and water for days.

Puerto Rico isn’t just facing physical and civic damage, but also the outcome of Trump’s erratic behavior. It’s ridiculous that as Trump attacks an Iranian general and almost causes war, the people of Puerto Rico continue to suffer.

The president has turned his back on innocent lives and even tried to make the natural disasters seem like a political attack against him. He even compared the death toll of Hurricane Maria to that of Hurricane Katrina.

Comparing one disaster to another, and also saying it’s not as bad as a more lethal disaster, is extremely insensitive. I can’t think of another president who would be stubborn enough to not want to help American lives at such a crucial time.

To further the chaos in Puerto Rico, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reacted slowly. So slow that people were left without food, water and shelter for months, as reported by The New York Times. It is outrageous that for months people didn’t have access to basic human necessities because the agency didn’t act fast enough.

Two weeks after Hurricane Maria, Trump visited the island for less than five hours to throw some paper towels at a crowd. He saw the devastation there, looked at the people in their time of need, and decided throwing paper towels into a crowd would be a good idea shortly after a natural disaster.

I don’t understand how anyone could think that Trump’s behavior is acceptable, especially as the president.

A president should be held to a higher standard. His actions toward innocent lives don’t represent the values and morals of Americans. He took every chance to screw over the people of Puerto Rico and did it without remorse.

As the impeachment process has ended in the Senate and the upcoming primary season begins, Puerto Rico needs the media attention that it so desperately deserves.

As long as the White House marginalizes Puerto Rico, human suffering will continue.