Puerto Ricans Continue to Wait for Disaster Funds

“More than two years after Hurricane Maria destroyed their homes, businesses, and public infrastructure,” said Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee, “the American people  of Puerto Rico are without much-needed relief and recovery assistance because of perpetual and illegal stonewalling by this administration.”

This statement was made in a press conference by a group of Democratic lawmakers. Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) similarly pointed out that more than 90 days have passed since the deadline for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to provide a notice of aid for Puerto Rico, and no such notice has yet been provided.

Stacey Plaskett (D), the representative for the U.S. Virgin Islands, expressed gratitude that the Virgin Islands has finally received notice, along with frustration that it has yet to receive the promised funding. Puerto Rico, too, she said, has not yet received the funds voted by Congress.

Funds approved but not sent

Congress appropriated $10.2 billion in disaster aid for Puerto Rico, some as long ago as February of 2018, and the approved payments have not yet been provided to Puerto Rico.

In June, Congress set a Sept. 4 deadline in a disaster aid bill (PL 116-20) for the Department of Housing and Urban Development to issue a notice needed to get the disaster mitigation funding sent to Puerto Rico.

“The Administration’s decision to knowingly ignore that deadline is not only unacceptable, it is unlawful,” said Lowey. “The American people of Puerto Rico are calling for help. There is no room for more delays or excuses from this Administration.”

Lowey repeated “the American people of Puerto Rico” more than once to remind listeners that Puerto Ricans are citizens of the United States, just like the U.S. citizens living in the States.

HUD’s excuse

A HUD spokesperson had an excuse for HUD’s failure to meet the September deadline. “Given the Puerto Rican government’s history of financial mismanagement, corruption, and other abuses; we must ensure that any HUD assistance provided helps those on the island who need it the most,” the official said. “This process must be handled in a prudent manner with strong financial controls to mitigate the risk to Federal taxpayers.”

It was not clear what steps had been taken in the 90+ days since the deadline, or what steps have been planned.

Rep. David E. Price of North Carolina, chairman of the Transportation-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee, said that HUD’s inspector general found “no evidence of widespread corruption in the housing authority of Puerto Rico.” He and Lowey sent a letter to HUD Secretary Ben Carson In September asking for HUD to explain why they ignored the deadline.

Lawmakers questioned HUD again in October, when HUD officials admitted that they were not complying with the law.

Corruption?

The claim that corruption in Puerto Rico’s government prevented the assistance being provided has morphed, in social media, into a claim that the appropriated funds were in fact sent to Puerto Rico, only to disappear into the pockets of the local government — or even into the pockets of members of Congress.

The response shown below was posted on Facebook in answer to the press conference mentioned above.


While there is no evidence supporting these claims, they may in part rest on President Trump’s repeated claim that Puerto Rico has received $91 billion in disaster aid. The statement was initially made when Puerto Rico had received $11 billion in aid. It appears that many people believe that Puerto Rico received but misspent these funds.

We also continue to see responses in social media showing that some Americans still do not realize that Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States, and not a foreign country.

4 Comments

Dennis Freytes

*Corruption is dealt in the Justice System; not Stereotyping a Group*
To GENERALIZE and to say Puerto Rico or its Government is “corrupt” is to STEREOTYPE; support discrimination o racism; insult the loyal, and hardworking People of Puerto Rico or its US Territory Government who are innocent of corruption…; not provide due process in a Court of Law! Justice is for ALL!

Corruption is an INDIVIDUAL, not Ethnic Group Crime that has been around since the beginning of the Human Race! There are more cases of corruption in Trump’s backyard, and in some States and Cities than in the US Territory of Puerto Rico! If there is corruption, present the evidence to the proper Justice Forum (with due process)!

Plus, Trump and Others, use the excuse of “corruption” to unjustly politically smear; further *discriminate (includes with-holding Federal Disaster and other needed Funds that adversely affects Puerto Ricans who already face Federal discrimination, since 1898)! 

YES, the Territorial Government, like other Governments, must have in place a strong system of “Checks and Balances” to ferret out corruption; investigate the accused, and prosecute in the Justice System, with due Process.  

Best, is to be Fair-Judge on MERIT; impartially point out the positive and negative; not criticize everything without solutions! Let Truth, Reason, and the Justice System prevail over Political distortion, deflection, and spin!

Again, it is WRONG to GENERALIZE or STEREOTYPE or *discriminate against Puerto Ricans or their US Territorial Government! Two Wrongs don’t make a Right! There is the Good, Bad, and Ugly in all Groups! BE FAIR!
** NOTE: For over 120+ years (since 1898)– the Federal Government (US Congress, US President, and US Federal-Supreme Court)– has not provided FAIR Treatment-EQUAL Rights; not taken Action to resolve Federal discrimination or undemocratic Federal control faced by fellow US Citizen-American Veterans in the US Territory of Puerto Rico (with more US Citizens-American Veterans than 22 States)! Puerto Ricans have NO Federal “Consent of the Governed”; NO full Civil Rights or Benefits; NO Parity in Federal Laws, Programs or Funding…! THE TIME is NOW for the Federal Government to provide–
EQUALITY + PROGRESS = STATEHOOD with DIGNITY

Dennis Freytes

*Hispanic-Puerto Rican Vote: FAIRNESS-Equal Rights*
“SILENCE TO DISCRIMINATION; SUPPORTS INJUSTICE!”
If any Presidential or other Candidates want to get the Hispanic-Puerto Rican VOTE (2d largest Hispanic Ethnic Group in the Nation; 1st largest in Florida, concentrated in the swing I-4 corridor)–take ACTION to provide EQUALITY for Puerto Ricans which are under Federal undemocratic control since 1898-over 120+years; not keep PR shackled as the oldest US Territory in history!

TRUMP and other Candidates must take ACTION to ensure FAIR Treatment-Equal Rights-Federal Consent of the Governed… for “ALL WE THE PEOPLE”-include fellow US Citizens-American Veterans in the US Territory of Puerto Rico!

Besides, TRUMP must stop generalizing or STEREOTYPING by calling the US Territory of Puerto Rico (with more US Citizens-American Veterans than 22 States) “one of the most corrupt places on earth”…; stop lying and with-holding needed Disaster Funds that correspond to Puerto Ricans, just as other US Citizens in the States get; not be condescending…!

Loyal US Puerto Ricans are NOT “corrupt”, but, hardworking… that make great contributions; sacrifice; shed sweat, blood, and tears for our noble US Flag!

After 120+ years of Federal discrimination, THE TIME IS NOW to end partisan Political pandering! TRUMP and all Candidates must support; get the Federal Government to provide Puerto Ricans:
EQUALITY+PROGRESS=STATEHOOD with DIGNITY!
(Through non-partisan Plebiscite STATEHOOD- YES or NO, per House Bill HR 4901, introduced by PR Congresswoman (RC), and supported by about 50 US Congresspersons).

**Alternative: Move for a Plebiscite between the only non-territorial (Colonial) Options: STATEHOOD vs INDEPENDENCE (without or with PACT of Free Association).

UNITED with Truth, Reason, courage, and Civic Action for the Good of ALL!

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