The visit of President Donald Trump has to be taken as a sign of the interest of his administration to contribute to the recovery of Puerto Rico, for which it is important to see firsthand the terrible damage caused by the ruthless hit of Hurricane Maria.
We appreciate the presence of the president at this stage of the emergency, which focus the attention of the American press and the world on the Island, which will be followed by Vice President Mike Pence's visit this Friday.
It is important that Trump came to the island accompanied by the corps of officials responsible for handling critical areas of infrastructure, supplies and humanitarian aid in these times of need: 8,000 refugees, tens of thousands of families without houses, only 7% of the power system restored, 50% of the drinking water service in operation and productive activity highly lacerated.
For this reason, in this picture, the strange allusion Trump made about the 16 deaths attributable to Maria up to now, in contrast to the deaths caused Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana was a surprise. The reference to disbursements for aid as imbalance in the federal budget sounded equally insensitive.
In addition, this presidential tour was limited to places in the metropolitan area where the devastation and extreme state of necessity is not as obvious as in towns located in the diagonal section of Humacao to Arecibo, razed by the center of Hurricane Maria.
We agree with the president in his appreciation that the joint response of governor Ricardo Rosselló and the federal government to the deficiencies affecting the citizens lives and the destruction of the road and service infrastructure has been good. The humanitarian work that directed by members of the Army, the Coast Guard and the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the initial mitigation of damages under our unique circumstances is, without doubt, commendable.
Unlike places where the damage caused by natural phenomena was concentrated in cities or more limited spaces, Puerto Rico suffered devastation in all its territory in which, due to our island condition, supplies arrive only by sea or by air.
It is indisputable that the direct and highly negative impact of Maria on the daily lives of the American citizens of Puerto Rico has aggravated previous problems such as bankruptcy and government indebtedness, unemployment and high costs for services, provisions and contributions that come with a crisis exacerbated by an economic contraction of more than a decade.
That is why it is imperative that the support of the federal government helps us to attend to the immediate and also transcend it. Building a strong infrastucture, resistant to cyclonic impacts and other typical phenomena of the Caribbean depends on an adequate joint development plan. Beyond that, it will allow the necessary revitalization of the productive activity that generates significant employment and sustainability, along with proper power and drinking water systems, as well as a revitalized bridges and highways networks.
Considering the elimination of cabotage laws that govern Puerto Rico, but not other territories, such as the US Virgin Islands, would provide the Island with a great tool for development.
We hope that the administration of President Trump also understands the need to expeditiously include the allocation of significant items for Puerto Rico as part of its comprehensive infrastructure plan when considering the federal budget.
We trust that the presidential team that has visited us will be able to lead vital projects such as flexibility of port operations, exemptions from payment of expenses and that the Federal Reserve and the Treasury could provide a low interest line of credit, among other concrete measures to consistently advance in the reconstruction of the island to which all Puerto Ricans united, American citizens firmly committed to a better future, already contribute.
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