Humanitarian Crisis in Puerto Rico


Dean Esmail, Sophomore Staff Writer

Once again the students at HHS can learn a lesson about generosity and the responsibility to our fellow man from the crisis in Puerto Rico.    

Following the devastating effects of Hurricane Maria, citizens of Puerto Rico are struggling to face this devastating humanitarian crisis. Homes have been demolished, food and medical supply are dwindling, and over 90 percent of the island are without power and phone service, according to online sources.  The U.S. has a certain responsibility to Puerto Rico since it is categorized as a commonwealth of the U.S.   Students here at HHS have learned a little about this relationship between Puerto Rico and America.

“Since 1952, the term “commonwealth,” has evolved to describe a potential relationship between the United States and Puerto Rico in which Puerto Rico is given special rights and privileges greater than those enjoyed by states.  Under a proposed “Commonwealth” government, Puerto Rico can ignore federal laws, sign treaties with foreign countries, and receive federal funding with no strings attached, all while possessing irrevocable U.S. citizenship and forcing the U.S. to maintain Puerto Rican policies…by mandating a “mutual consent” clause in an initial U.S.-Puerto Rico pact” (“The Meaning of Commonwealth”)

Through such desperate times, Gov. Ricardo A. Rosselló of Puerto Rico, has called to the United States to supply aid for the despairing community. He states that, “When we speak of a catastrophe, everyone must be treated equally.” 3.4 million US citizens live in Puerto Rico, and they are entitled to the same government response as any state.

After facing criticism for lack of support toward Puerto Rico, President Trump has called to members of the FEMA task force who are attempting to support relief efforts in the island. “We saw a lot of damage, mostly on the transmission and distribution system,” says Gil Quiniones, president and CEO of the New York Power Authority. ” In response to the calamity, Elon Musk, the CEO of Spacex, has offered to help reconstruct the power line in Puerto Rico. The United States is helping to restore the island’s power supply and are “doing their best” to supply food and medicine to those in need, and citizens of Puerto Rico are grateful for their endeavors.

However, there has been much controversy on whether or not the United States is actually being of major assistance. When asked about the horrific environmental conditions of Puerto Rico after the hurricane, Zach Resatar, a senior at HHS, stated, “It’s really sad, what happened in Puerto Rico, but I believe that the United States is providing sufficient aid, and is a major help.” However, some students, including Tony Dattilo, a sophomore, believes that, “Trump is worrying too much about the country’s financial problems, when he should be worrying about supplying aid.”

Many Puerto Ricans are beginning a major exodus, with most traveling to Florida, in hopes of escaping the hurricane-stricken environment. However, this exodus may lead to another a major dilemma: The government needs to decide whether it would rather have people move to the US mainland or try to have a more distributive recovery in Puerto Rico. This humanitarian crisis has brought about moral and financial problems which US citizens are forced to handle.  It does present Americans with a valuable lesson, however–the idea that in many ways and for many reasons, we are all responsible for our fellow man in times of crisis.