Help the people of Puerto Rico immediately by moving FEMA into meaningful action, cancelling Puerto Rico’s massive debt, and permanently ending the Jones Act.
I was born in Puerto Rico, home to 3.4 million American citizens.
My parents are still on the island in Bayamon, a town near the capitol city of San Juan. As a New York state senator from the Bronx, many of my constituents are Puerto Rican–so what’s happening is personal for me.
And I need it to be personal for you, as well.
Hurricanes Irma and Maria have laid waste to my home. Nearly half of the country has no access to clean water. The majority of Puerto Rico still has no electricity. No access to medical care. No way to communicate.
But thus far the responses from Congress and FEMA have not come close to addressing the tragic destruction and human suffering on the island.
Numerous credible sources report that basic relief functions are in shameful chaos. And as time passes, this is only going to get worse.
Here’s what’s needed right now from Congress:
1. Demand FEMA adequately address this tragedy by devoting the immediate people-power and resources that Puerto Ricans need and deserve.
2. Cancel Puerto Rico’s $73 billion predatory debt.
3. Pass a significant relief and recovery package, that includes a permanent end to the Jones Act, so that Puerto Rico has the resources both for this acute crisis and for the longer rebuilding process. Puerto Rico must rebuild, but the same vultures who caused this crisis are going to try and make money off of Puerto Rico’s rebuilding and we cannot let that happen.
Look, I have been able to speak to my parents twice and they are OK so far. They had enough food and water for a week—but time is running out.
And I’m lucky that I’ve been able to reach them. Constituents are coming into my office who can’t reach their families. One man can’t reach his mother, doesn’t know if she has access to medicine, and is worried about her survival.
We’re doing what we can in our office to support our constituents—but we need Congress and FEMA to do more. MUCH more. And do it now.