President Trump sets precedent for failure in Puerto Rico

After the slew of hurricanes this season, images of flooded streets, long lines for gas and food and decimated homes and communities have circulated the media. The pictures of Florida, Houston and Puerto Rico may not seem too different from one another, but the response to these disasters could not have been more varied.

While Florida and Houston are on the path to recovery, Puerto Rico desperately needs our help. Unfortunately, the victims and their pleas for aid have fallen on deaf ears and blind eyes in the Trump administration. But we need to help Puerto Rico now, before we risk turning Puerto Rico into yet another Katrina-sized disaster.

Since Maria struck the islands two weeks ago, victims of the hurricane are still in need of supplies, power, and food before reconstruction can begin to take hold.

As reported by Vox, roughly 3.4 million people are being affected by the damage Maria has caused in Puerto Rico. Up to 80 percent of the power transmission lines have been knocked out, and 42 percent of the island is without clean water. This is worse than both Houston and Florida.

But where is the United States government in all this?

Since hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the government has waived a law called the Jones Act, allowing the areas affected to get much needed fuel and supplies. The law is essentially in place to regulate maritime commerce, but can prove to be a hindrance when cargo needs to be unloaded and delivered urgently.

Instead of doing the same for Puerto Rico, the Trump administration has refused to come to a consensus on waiving the act, leaving millions in jeopardy as they wait for life-saving cargo. According to the New York Times, the act was waived roughly a week after the disaster struck, and is only in effect for 10 days.

Trump’s defenders jump at the chance to point out how he’s helped disaster stricken areas, particularly Houston, while ignoring the growing humanitarian crisis Trump neglected in Puerto Rico. There is no good in offering up aid only after being pressured and berated, and ten days is not nearly enough time to get supplies to Puerto Rico.

To add insult to injury, literally, Trump has been making comments about Puerto Rico’s debt, its infrastructure problems and its leadership, essentially victim-blaming Puerto Rico instead of offering help.

In one of his tweets, Trump says, “…Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help.” He follows this with another tweet stating, “They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort.”

The audacity Trump has to point fingers at other leaders proves that he’s unfit for the job he was appointed for. Instead of offering aid as quickly as possible, he seems more preoccupied with the NFL and his weekends playing golf than a Katrina sized disaster facing his administration.

Instead, perhaps Trump could learn something about being a good leader from the mayor of San Juan herself, Carmen Yulin Cruz, who is often pictured wading flooded streets to help the people of San Juan. Trump hasn’t even visited Puerto Rico, and delayed his visits to Houston and Florida as well.

If we can’t even help our own citizens when they need us, what good are we as a nation that prides itself on being a superpower? Surely, these natural disasters and social issues tearing apart the country will kill us long before North Korea does any damage.

The way our president and his administration handle the issues we need to address in a mature and swift manner, brings shame to us as Americans. If we let Puerto Rico down, who’s to say we won’t do the same to another part of the country as well?

If this trend continues, in which our leader jeopardizes the nation’s safety for his ego, I’m afraid we will have many more stains on our history, much like we did under Bush with Hurricane Katrina. The government’s slow, almost careless response to Katrina cost countless lives and left lasting damage that some of the hurricane hit communities still feel today. Until we learn from our mistakes, the future seems doomed to repeat the past.