US President Donald Trump and his wife, Melania Trump, will travel to Puerto Rico aboard Air Force One. (horizontal-x3)
US President Donald Trump and his wife, Melania Trump, will travel to Puerto Rico aboard Air Force One. (AP)

Washington - When President Donald Trump lands on Puerto Rican soil today -around noon- he will find an Island that remains catastrophic, two weeks after the blow of Hurricane Maria.

Until yesterday, only 5% of the population had electricity, half remained without drinkable water, one third of the hospitals could not provide adequate service and telecommunications were still severely limited

From the interior of the Island, municipal officials have warned about the lack of supplies or the continious rounds to get basic necessities.

However, from day one, President Trump believes that "It’s been amazing what’s been done in a very short period of time on Puerto Rico," considering that “There's never been a piece of land that we've known that was so devastated.”

""The bridges are down. The telecommunications was nonexistent and it’s in very, very bad shape. The electrical grid, as you know, is totally destroyed," stated Trump, who will arrive at Muñiz airbase near noon, accompanied by First Lady Melania Trump and some of his advisors.

Trump is the first US president to make an official visit to Puerto Rico in the middle of an emergency. His arrival in San Juan comes at a time when he has to deal, since yesterday, with the Las Vegas massacre, the worst in modern American history.

In San Juan, Trump -who invited Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González to come to the island aboard Air Force One- will meet the governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rosselló, the Governor of the Virgin Islands Kenneth Mapp, and the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Brock Long.

Sarah Sanders, President Trump's press secretary, said that they have also invited San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, who expressed her willingness to meet with the White House tenant.

Mayor Cruz raised the alert in the US and international media about the difficulties of the federal government to respond to the magnitude of the catastrophe.

After Cruz's cry for help, Trump accused the mayor of “has now been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump”, and said that she, as well as others in Puerto Rico, wanted " everything to be done for them."

“Outside of the Fake News or politically motivated ingrates, people are now starting to recognize the amazing work that has been done by FEMA and our great Military," Trump tweeted over the weekend.

However, yesterday, at the White House briefing session, Sanders assured that they seek to "bring the mayor to coordinate efforts" with the federal government.

Over the weekend, a memorandum from President Trump's Homeland Security advisor Tom Bossert was released, stating that in Puerto Rico "search and rescue teams have covered 100% of the Island" and suggested, as it finally happened, an exchange of praise between the governments of Rosselló and Trumpon managing the crisis.

At a time when the hurricane has stunted an economy that was already in its worst recession in nearly a century, the visit by the US president emphasizes the urgent need for federal support in order to put together a plan that, in the short term, stabilizes the Island and, in the long run, awakes it from the state of coma in which the hurricane has left it.

Congressional leadership looks to approve a "small" allocation this week to help fund the FEMA disaster fund and likely to add allocations to the Small Business Administration (SBA), a lawmaker said yesterday.

But the plans are that once FEMA completes the damage assessment caused by Hurricane Maria, Congress will move to a gigantic resolution of funding to assist the victims and help fund shattered public structures.

Along with discussions about a low-interest loan from the federal government, the Puerto Rican government keeps its swords up trying to keep at least the same level of Medicaid allocations it has had after Obamacare's approval, some $ 1.6 billion per year.

One of the decisions for the future will be how to rebuild the electricity grid. For the time being, the US Army Corps of Engineers supervises the repair of the existing electrical system.

At an information briefing last week, Bossert said that the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) and the Puerto Rico Aqueducts and Sewers Authority (PRASA), "have to be rebuilt under proper management, and will have to do it under appropriate codes and standards of reconstruction to ensure that they can withstand a future hurricane, and not only return to sticks and wires."

Former Popular Senator Ramón Luis Nieves, who chaired the Senate Energy Commission during the last four years, has indicated that a new "solid and 'intelligent' electrical system will be a key element" for the economic recovery of Puerto Rico.

Meanwhile, historian Angel Collado Schwartz pointed out that it is time to take up President Bill Clinton's proposal to turn the Island into a pilot project for wind power.

Cabotaje

Trump approved a 10-day waiver on federal cabotage rules last week to allow ships with flag, owner and crew from other countries to ship goods between the United States and Puerto Rico.

But Sanders said Senator John McCain's bill seeking to make such a permanent exemption "is not needed right now."

Sanders also noted that "Puerto Ricans have shown incredible resilience" and that, the  Trump administration, is "fully committed to helping them rebuild their lives."


💬See 0 comments