U.S. President Donald Trump will travel to hurricane-hit Puerto Rico next Tuesday. Frustration is growing with his administration’s response to Hurricane Maria, with millions of residents still without power and facing long lines for supplies.
CGTN’s Nitza Soledad Perez reports.
Nine days after Hurricane Maria left them empty-handed, residents of Canovanas are still removing mud. Their community is only 30 minutes away from the island’s capital.
“We have received very little help. At least here we have many neighborhoods,” Elliot Velazquez said.
Local authorities did clear the streets, but no one has come to check if all basic survival needs are being met.
“We have water, but we do need food.”
Velazquez’s friend, a local teacher, did not hold back. They are desperate and frustrated, he said.
“The U.S. keeps demonstrating that for them, we are second class U.S. citizens. They’ve done it throughout history, and now it’s more evident with Hurricane Maria,” according to Orlando Mejia. “The U.S. government, through their military forces and personnel, they have the equipment. They get installations where nothing exists, and it’s unbelievable that they haven’t been able to help with the electricity or at least improve communications.”
A few blocks down the street, the medical clinic is in need of diesel for its generator. Only 5 percent of the island has power.
“I only have diesel until one in the morning today,” according to human resources director Diana Moncia. “We are the only operating clinic in the area and we need to get diesel.”
Even before Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico was an island dealing with financial turmoil. But its agriculture industry was enjoying an economic resurgence. With most of that now wiped out too, farmers are trying to plow through the uncertainty.
While this precarious situation repeats itself in dozens of municipalities in the American territory, Washington has a different perspective on how relief efforts are being deployed and distributed.
“As far as Puerto Rico is concerned, that’s been going, as you know, really well. It’s been total devastation. We have over 10,000 people in Puerto Rico right now,” President Donald Trump told the media.
Back in the reality of his home, Vasquez is worried about his mother. She underwent an operation a few days before the hurricane hit. Elliot took her to a shelter so she could recover while he and their neighbors find a way to rebuild all on their own.