Ocasio-Cortez speaks of 'colonialism of the modern era' in Puerto Rico
Democratic candidate for U.S. Congress Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez highlighted the difference between the government's response to Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.
The United States faces a new political panorama and, with it, the breaking of obsolete paradigms and the urgent need to call things by their name.
That’s what Alexandria-Ocasio Cortez - New York's Democratic Socialist candidate to the House of Representatives - seems to understand.
Ocasio-Cortez, who is the daughter of a Puerto Rican woman from the Bronx, spoke out on Sunday about the reality that citizens on the island are facing due to the negligence of Donald Trump's government, stating that "it’s indicative of a dismissive and retrograde point of view of Puerto Rico.”
"First and foremost, there is a systemic issue here, and that is the modern day colonial relationship that the United States has with Puerto Rico," Ocasio said in an interview with CNN. "Puerto Ricans are technically American citizens but do not have the right to vote. They are treated in completely different ways as normal American citizens are. And for that reason, you have the chronic neglect of the island, and it is acute situations like this in which Puerto Ricans continue to be treated like second-class citizens.”
The candidate's words come at a critical moment after President Donald Trump minimized last week through his Twitter account the tragedy and chaos that Puerto Rico is experiencing, assuring that "3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico. When I left the island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths," he wrote. "Then, a long time later they started to report really large numbers, like 3000 ... 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. If a person died for any reason, like old age, just add them onto the list. Bad politics. I love Puerto Rico!"
Ocasio-Cortez responded at the time to the president's comment through the platform, revealing that her own grandfather had died in the catastrophe. She urged the president to stop pointing and blaming, and instead dedicate himself to "invest in the Marshall Plan for Puerto Rico."
During her interview with CNN on "State of the Union," Ocasio-Cortez cataloged the tragedy of Hurricane Maria as "the worst humanitarian crisis in the country's modern history," highlighting how the island received "only a fraction of FEMA" and compared it with the assistance received by communities affected by Hurricane Harvey.
These data were made public at the beginning of the year thanks to an investigation carried out by Politico, where documents and FEMA records "showed that the Trump Administration - and the president himself - responded much more aggressively in Texas than in Puerto Rico.”
The report exposed how the government's immediate response in Texas took only six days while people on the island waited up to three weeks to receive the necessary supplies to save victims.
"Nine days after the respective hurricanes, FEMA had approved $141.8 million in individual assistance to Harvey victims, versus only 6.2 million for Maria victims," Politico reported. "During the first nine days after Harvey, FEMA provided 5.1 million meals, 4.5 million liters of water and more than 20,000 tarps to Houston; but in the same period, it delivered just 1.6 million meals, 2.8 million liters of water and roughly 5,000 tarps to Puerto Rico."
The difference has been monumental.
Finally, for Ocasio-Cortez, the situation is more than outrageous: "Puerto Ricans have no right to vote in federal elections. They cannot choose a president. They don’t have a representative vote in the House or the Senate, which means that they did not even have the capacity to choose this president, yet they continue to suffer in the hands of this administration."