In a story published by The Washington Post on Thursday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reported that half of all residents in hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico had access to drinking water and approximately five percent of the people had electricity. However, on Thursday statistics on drinking water and electricity had been removed from the FEMA website. Curiously, data on government activities in the U.S. Virgin Islands were still readily available.
A spokesman for FEMA stated that these statistics can still be obtained from the Puerto Rican government site www.status.pr. There’s just one teeny tiny problem. Click on the link and you’ll readily see what the problem is. Yes, it is all in Spanish. The Washington Post kindly translated for its readers that currently 9.2 percent of the people have electricity and 54.2 percent have access to drinking water. But unless you are fluent in Spanish it is going to be hard to keep up with the relief efforts for Puerto Rico.
Why Are They Hiding These Figures?
The facts obviously do not fit the Trump narrative that the government is quickly restoring the island back to normalcy. In the aftermath of Trump’s disastrous visit to the island, where he continued his feud with the mayor of San Juan, spoke lovingly about fighter planes, and threw rolls of paper towels to a waiting crowd, Trump also had the temerity to state that Hurricane Maria was not nearly as bad as a “real catastrophe” like Hurricane Katrina because their death toll was much lower. At the time of his visit, the reported death toll was 16, but since them has almost doubled. It will doubtless increase as reports from isolated rural areas come in.
By hiding these statistics from the majority of Americans, Trump will be able to drive the narrative himself, with little to no fact checking. This is not the action of a democracy – this is what an authoritarian regime would do. Hide the facts from the people and tell them what you want them to hear.
Can Trump Get Away With It?
In the short-term, the answer is probably “yes.” The American public has a short attention span and already has been diverted by the tragic mass shooting in Las Vegas. Then came the story of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson calling Trump a “moron.” With Trump there is a new outrage every day. Look – squirrel!!! But the story in Puerto Rico will be continuing for months as the island tries to recover. The so-called main stream media, decried almost daily on Twitter by Trump, will hopefully keep reporting on the situation there as more people suffer and die as a result of the storm.
Will Hurricane Maria Be Worse Than Hurricane Katrina?
It is still too early to say, but it should not be forgotten that the vast majority of deaths resulting from Hurricane Katrina were not directly caused by the storm, but from the aftermath and the poorly coordinated relief efforts. And the logistics for providing relief to victims of Hurricane Maria are much more complicated. We are not talking in terms of days or weeks, but months and years before the island is fully recovered. Let us hope and pray that the people of Puerto Rico do not suffer as badly as those in New Orleans.
What Does The Future Hold?
Just as with Hurricane Katrina many of the victims of Hurricane Maria will relocate to other areas. As they are all United States citizens, the logical place for them to move will be to the mainland. Many have relatives already living here. And here is an interesting point that Trump and other Republicans need to remember. In Puerto Rico, they do not have the right to vote for President and Vice President. But if they become residents of any of the 50 states, they can legally vote in any election. Perhaps the only politician they hold in any regard is Senator Marco Rubio who has worked tirelessly to get supplies and manpower to this U.S. territory.
The relief efforts will run to billions of dollars, just as they will for the victims of Harvey and Irma. But these people are just as much American citizens as the residents of Texas and Florida.
While Trump and his administration may try to hide the facts from the American people, they will also be held accountable by the millions of accounts on social media that can report what is really going on.
Oh, and if you don’t speak Spanish, the term “pendejo” can be translated as starting with the word “dumb” and ending with the word “ass.”