The current political confrontation within the island´s government further highlights the solidarity of Puerto Ricans with their brothers and sisters who have been hard hit suffered by the recent earthquakes and with those who have not yet been able to recover from the damage caused by Hurricane María.
Citizens have clearly shown their empathy distributing supplies and other solidarity actions with those families affected by the January 6 and 7 strong earthquakes.
They have also called for protests to express their growing anger over public deficiencies in distributing emergency aid, attributed to internal struggles associated with this year´s elections.
For the first time in more than a century, Puerto Rico faces an emergency caused by major earthquakes. The experience, unknown to younger and older generations, had a severe impact on the quality of life and the emotional health of many Puerto Ricans. The island's economy has been seriously affected, particularly in the southern area, the most affected by the earthquakes.
In this situation, the duty and responsibility of every public official must be clear: the immediate priority is to provide the victims with decent living conditions and peace of mind and social harmony. Displaced families in southwestern municipalities deserve the appropriate institutional care that allows them to enjoy fundamental rights such as housing and education as soon as possible.
Until last week, there were more than 8,000 people in official shelters and the government estimated that about 20,000 others might be sleeping outdoors. About 400 citizens applied for assistance from housing programs. According to estimates, 700 houses may have been affected by the earthquakes.
It is urgent to seek immediate solutions to the current crisis and to design permanent strategies to prevent these people from becoming victims of new natural events. Businesses in the affected areas, that have closed or reduced activities due to damage or loss of visitors, are also waiting for action.
In a scenario of so many needs and political confrontation within agencies with the responsibility to respond to the emergency, public institutions appear to be in disarray.
It is essential to go beyond individual interests and seek a unity of purpose leading to coordinated and efficient government management. Putting their own interests aside is a legal and moral duty to the victims and the affected communities; it is an obligation to Puerto Rico. It´s been the people who have been teaching lessons of unity and solidarity in assisting people in the South.
Overcoming the current earthquake emergency and the one triggered by the hurricanes that struck the island more than two years ago, are crucial steps in undertaking the island's socio-economic development agenda. These natural events joined the already serious fiscal challenges in Puerto Rico, and the solution requires institutions focused on the future well-being of Puerto Rico.
It is up to the authorities to take the lead in action and transparency at this historic moment for the island, it´s been people took the lead in the face of what they perceive as an institutional blurring. Puerto Rico expects appropriate action and rigorous accountability. Information and aid must flow clearly for the benefit of those affected and the island.
Puerto Ricans rightly demand efficient public management, focused on the well-being of the people, without any distinction. This path, guided by the commitment to solidarity service, leads to strengthening our institutions and to social justice.