For Immediate Release
June 4, 2018
The Climate Justice Alliance (CJA) and Our Power Puerto Rico (NYC) issued the following statement today demanding accountability to the Puerto Rican people from the White House and Puerto Rican officials, calling for an investigation into the intentional underestimation of lives lost and an urgent conversation on a just recovery plan, in light of revelations from a new Harvard University study:
“It is egregious that this administration is downplaying a catastrophe which resulted in a death toll that exceeds lives lost during 9/11 and twice those lost during Hurricane Katrina. Citing 4,645 “excess deaths,” the Harvard study on Puerto Rico now being reported on and first published by the New England Journal of Medicine only affirms this and paints a much more accurate picture of what people on the ground witnessed.
“The American public is now learning what the Climate Justice Alliance and Our Power Puerto Rico have known all along. The death toll announced by the Puerto Rican government and the White House in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria was a lie and almost certainly publicized with the intent to deceive the general public, justify an inadequate government response and commitment of resources and to serve political agendas. We wholeheartedly condemn this misrepresentation of lives lost and the blatant disregard of the plight of the people of Puerto Rico for political expediency and call for an investigation into it.
“Based on the Our Power Puerto Rico Solidarity Brigades we led with Organización Boricuá and 25 partner organizations to the islands following the devastation, we knew early on that the loss of life was much higher than the official reports of 1,000 deaths in the first few months and would require a timely and strong response with ample resources to rebuild and stabilize the islands.
“This intentional misrepresentation of the reality on the ground is unconscionable and cannot be allowed to stand. The inadequate federal response to the devastation in Puerto Rico and the lack of accountability that continues to date is yet another manifestation of the permanent colonial status the islands and its people continue to hold within Washington and regrettably, in the minds of many Americans. The impact of a storm the size of Hurricane Maria on islands already under austerity measures and neglect must not be overlooked or understated.
“With the 2018 hurricane season upon us already, the Climate Justice Alliance and Our Power Puerto Rico demand swift action from Washington in the form of:
- A robust Just Recovery Federal Aid Package for the people of Puerto Rico, which to date has not happened in any meaningful form;
- Justice over the Jones Act, which makes it more expensive for the islands to import goods from the mainland;
- The end of PROMESA, which has only plunged Puerto Rico into more economic misery; and
- Support from the NGO community for grassroots groups on the ground who are rebuilding while prioritizing equity and environmental justice.
“A serious conversation on just recovery strategies for Puerto Rico is long overdue and is the first step in ensuring that the concerns of the people on the islands are front and center.”
Join us on June 6th with representatives of the Puerto Rican people including the Teachers’ Union of Puerto Rico and Organización Boricuá who will discuss just recovery strategies with Naomi Klein, Senior Correspondent at the Intercept, Juan Gonzalez, co-host of Democracy Now! and Elizabeth Yeampierre, Executive Director of UPROSE in New York, among others.