Phillip Arroyo

The United States has failed Puerto Rico

For the past 10 days we have all witnessed the horrorizing images of the disaster aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. The U.S. territory with more American citizens than 23 states of the union was ravaged by a category 4 hurricane which has decimated its infrastructure, caused massive flooding and has crippled the islands power, utilities and cell services.

Such a devastating occurrence has been described as "worse than Katrina" by Russell Honore, the U.S. military general who stepped in to clean up President Bush's poor response to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

During that time, General Honore was provided and he utilized the full power of the US military and over 250 helicopters which soared the skies of New Orleans after Katrina. So you would expect the same treatment for Puerto Rico, correct? WRONG.

After 10 days since the Hurricane Maria impacted the island of Puerto Rico, the full force of the US military is nowhere to be seen, leaving the island's ill equipped and resourceless mayors to lead the front line. The island was also barred from receiving international aide by the US government due to a tyrannical outdated law that only permits American vessels with American crew to enter Puerto Rico.

Under severe pressure and outrage by people on social media and the national media, President Trump decided to lift the law's limitations; but for only 10 days. Meanwhile, Donald Trump has announced he will be visiting Puerto Rico next Tuesday.

What made me lift an eyebrow was when he informed that he would be visiting the island accompanied by Vice President Mike Pence. This is an interesting move by the President, because U.S. government rules of succession limit the presence of both the President and Vice President in the same place to preserve the order of succession if something were to happen to the President. This protocol is applicable almost consistently in most events, and even more during events or places where danger is imminent.

The majority of times that you see both the Vice President and President together, its usually at rallies or political events, and that is exactly what is going to happen next Tuesday when Trump arrives to Puerto Rico. You see, Puerto Rico is not a priority for the Trump administration and the United States as the unacceptable poor response of the federal government has proved.

The inexplicable delay in getting the necessary aide to the island coupled with the fact that Trump will land in Puerto Rico next Tuesday points directly towards a classic playbook play in politics, "the Messiah Factor." It's not a coincidence that the President ordered several US Navy ships to head towards Puerto Rico, which will coincide with his arrival to the island. The United States government has stalled in the delivery of necessary help to Puerto Rico to deliberately coincide with the President's visit to Puerto Rico with the sole purposeof projecting him as a "Messiah". President Trump and Florida Governor Rick Scott (who is already on the island) know that there are over 1 million Puerto Ricans in battleground state Florida (almost more than Cubans) and that is the reason they are throwing on their windbreakers and going to Puerto Rico. Their sole interest is political gain and not to genuinely help the people.

Don't believe me? Why hasn't Ted Cruz of Texas flown to Puerto Rico? Because the Puerto Rican vote in Texas is not influential as in Florida. So sit back and watch the political circus in Puerto Rico when Trump and the GOP play their roles of "Messiah" with the sole intent to capture Puerto Rican votes in Florida and then disappear months later leaving Puerto Rico forgotten. President Barack Obama did the same in 2011 during his reelection campaign by stopping in Puerto Rico to eat a sandwich, kiss babies, shake hands and promise to solve Puerto Rico's political status. What happened? He stabbed Puerto Rico in the back by ignoring the statehood victory in 2012 on the island and signed a Republican bill into law imposing an unelected "Fiscal Board" to take over the island. So as Puerto Ricans, we have seen this movie before.

President Trump's visit Tuesday also serves as an attempt by the US government to once again occupy the island militarily and reinforce colonialism on the island during times of rebellion and anger by Puerto Ricans that are upset with the US for ignoring the last two plebiscites on the island where statehood has won with over 97% of the vote and due to an undemocratic "fiscal board" being imposed on them by the US Congress invalidating their local government. The goal by the US government is to make those that are upset with the US for its undemocratic practices to become loyal to the US by getting on their knees and kissing the American ring who puts food in their mouths.

By finally dispatching last minute LATE aide after Puerto Ricans have suffered for more than 10 days they can make the case that they "saved Puerto Rico" further drilling into the minds of Puerto Ricans that we would be helpless without the United States, while at the same time blocking international aide from coming into the island.

Puerto Ricans are smarter however, and we have not only lived stunts like this throughout our history, but we have watched enough episodes of House of Cards to realize that the political maneauvers portrayed in that popular series are very much real and we will not be fooled when Trump visits Puerto Rico next Tuesday.

Trump is no Messiah. The United States has FAILED Puerto Rico once again and Puerto Ricans on the mainland and the island will NEVER FORGET.


Phillip Arroyo is a national political analyst and columnist in Orlando, Florida. He was selected as the only Puerto Rican to serve in the 2012 White House Internship, having worked in the office of the Vice PresidentJoe Biden, where he analyzed domestic and economic issues while at the White House.

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