Caught between Wanda and Dorian: the aftermath of #RickyRenuncia
The ousting of the governor, a Supreme Court ruling, and the arrival of Wanda Vázquez to power leave Puerto Rico weaker than ever when facing another natural disaster.
How can a country recover from the worst storm in its history without economic or moral support?
How can a nation rebuild itself if corruption, omission, and lies keep it hostage?
After two years of the devastating passage of Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico continues to drag the aftermath of the disaster that proved the extent to which politics and dependence have eroded the country's foundations.
On Wednesday afternoon, meteorologists and specialists announced that the tropical storm Dorian - which was growing rapidly in the Caribbean - was now a hurricane, and forecasts indicated that it could reach Category 1 just before passing through the island of Puerto Rico.
Images broadcasted in real-time by the Washington Post showed the storm forming an eye as it passed through St. Thomas, a symbol of "intensification," the media explained.
It is estimated that winds between 30 and 60 mph could reach the island, especially in eastern territories such as the islands of Culebra and Vieques that will be the most affected, and heavy rains and winds are expected at the end of the afternoon in areas closer to the center.
An alert of heavy floods brought back to Puerto Ricans’ minds the fateful images of the catastrophe two years ago, and the nation’s infrastructure is not prepared for another blow.
More than $ 15 million destined to the recovery of the island were allegedly diverted by the administration of Rosselló, who fell out of favor after the publication of hundreds of pages of a private chat in which the ruling elite’s contempt against its people was out there, for all to see.
Tired, frustrated, and fed up, Puerto Ricans drove a social revolution that finally ended in the governor's resignation. But the cure could be worse than the disease.
Rosselló's vacant post was briefly filled by the interim Secretary of State Pedro Pierluisi, who was not confirmed by the Supreme Court, giving way to Vázquez as successor.
Despite having been involved in her own political scandals for violation of government ethics, and despite the strong opposition of people on the streets, Vázquez remains behind the wheel, giving no indication of being able to generate the true change that Puerto Ricans are fighting for.
It is no secret to anyone Washington’s and specifically President Donald Trump’s utter contempt for Puerto Rico. Trump has, since Maria, blamed the island for its misfortune and has consistently refused to increase recovery funds.
Much of the money destined for natural disasters relief has been diverted by the administration to the Trump anti-immigrant crusade, especially to fund detention centers for undocumented immigrants.
Just Wednesday, Trump called Puerto Rico "one of the most corrupt places on earth," and, despite the cruelty, the reality laid bare by Rosselló’s chat leak doesn’t seem to argue the point.
Puerto Rico is one of the most corrupt places on earth. Their political system is broken and their politicians are either Incompetent or Corrupt. Congress approved Billions of Dollars last time, more than anyplace else has ever gotten, and it is sent to Crooked Pols. No good!....
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 28, 2019
However, Trump's contempt, dripping like battery acid of colonialism and racism, seems to be lost on the present Puerto Rican government and leaders.
Proof of this is Vázquez's response via twitter to Trump’s opprobrium. She thanked the president for his "prompt response" and said: "This will allow federal aid to arrive more quickly." Judas could not have phrased it better.
On behalf of the people of Puerto Rico, I appreciate the rapid response of President @realDonaldTrump to our request for an Emergency Declaration. This will allow federal aid to arrive more quickly after the passage of #Dorian through our area. @marcorubio @RepJenniffer pic.twitter.com/lm9s3vn8OQ
— Wanda Vázquez Garced (@wandavazquezg) August 28, 2019
Meanwhile, Puerto Ricans are caught between another natural disaster and the rot that clings with its teeth and nails to La Fortaleza.