Over a month ago, the massive Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico, knocking out power and destroying access to clean water over virtually the entire island.
The Trump administration’s response to this humanitarian crisis-creating natural disaster has been muted at best. Multiple officials — the president included — have deflected blame for their slow responses onto the Puerto Ricans themselves. The Trump administration’s argument has alternated between an assertion that the islanders are “politically motivated ingrates” and an assertion that the problems created by the storm aren’t really theirs to deal with since the island was in poor shape, to begin with.
On Wednesday, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson completely gave up on making any sort of real, acute progress for the people of Puerto Rico. He commented, “The people in Puerto Rico have suffered just tremendously,” but asserting that it could take between one and 100 years for the island to make a full recovery.
Although, yes, some form of recovery efforts will have to continue for some time, Secretary Carson’s remarks are either the mark of a man who has no idea what he’s doing or of one that doesn’t care for the people of Puerto Rico — or both.
Carson is the only African American in a high-ranking position in Trump’s cabinet, having moved into that position after using his fame as a neurosurgeon to make a run for the presidency. He has no real experience in leadership — and it’s showing, in part through these comments.
What has been attempted for the people of Puerto Rico has been bungled, with the $300 million contract to fix the island’s electrical grid having gone to a small company from Montana. An aid bill finally passed the Senate this Tuesday. It included provisions for hurricane relief and provisions for aid for those affected by the recent California wildfires. The bill passed the House earlier this month and is now on its way to the president’s desk.
As of the middle of this week, about one in four Puerto Ricans remain without acute access to clean drinking water, and about three in four remain without power.
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