Last Thursday, President Trump gave his administration a ten out of ten for its handling of the hurricane recovery in Puerto Rico, However, even as Trump was patting himself and his team on the back the power grid in San Juan went down again throwing the city into darkness.
Meanwhile, those living in more remotes areas of Puerto Rico like Vieques and Culebra were still living without any resources, often left to fend for themselves, forced to drink highly polluted water from rivers, or other sources, including those directly connected to Superfund sites. More than a month after Hurricane Maria made landfall on Sept. 20, many Puerto Ricans remained in dire straits, especially those needing electricity for respirators or dialysis machines to treat medical conditions. Some backup generators were burning out due to overuse.
Given Puerto Ricos ongoing crisis, some officials of the U.S. territory have tried to avoid angering the President. At one point during the meeting in the Oval Office, Trump turned to Puerto Ricos Governor Ricardo Rossello and asked, Did we do a great job? Rossello finessed the Presidents question: You responded immediately, Sir.
But San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz quipped that Trump was right about giving his administration a 10 if it was out of 100. If it is a 10 out of a scale of 100, of course, it is still a failing grade, she said on CNNs New Day on Friday.
In an interview late Thursday, I spoke with Flashpoints contributor Judith Berkan in San Juan, whose electricity had again failed, along with millions of other Puerto Ricans. Berkan is a human rights activist and attorney who deals with land rights, and has been a resident of the U.S. island colony for the last 40 years.
Dennis Bernstein: Whats the latest regarding the situation on the ground? Is the situation beginning to improve?
Judith Berkan: In some ways, the situation keeps getting worse. For example, just a half an hour ago most, if not all, of the San Juan area lost electricity. The power comes and goes. You get it for a couple days and you get a sense of some routine in your life and then it disappears again. So the San Juan metropolitan area, which in some ways is the economic motor of the country, is still in the dark. I live in an apartment building which has generators. There has been a fire sale of generators here at very exorbitant prices. People are being gouged.