City’s Puerto Rican community is demanding more hurricane relief

Environmental activists in Manhattan are holding a National Call to Action Wednesday, demanding a resilient recovery effort in hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico.

Members of the city’s Puerto Rican community are expected to join The Climate Justice Alliance and the group UPROSE for a rally in Union Square Park around 5 p.m. to demand that Congress pass a federal aid package and create long-term goals for protecting the island against future storms.

The comprehensive aid package should include debt relief, guidelines for transparency in distributing aid resources, a review of infrastructure and a repeal of the Jones Act, which regulates maritime commerce in U.S. waters, rally organizers said.

UPROSE, which bills itself as the oldest Latino community-based organization in Brooklyn, is also leading a donation collection. The group is currently accepting water filters, work gloves, micro-green seeds, solar-based radios, satellite phones, solar stoves, bikes with carts that can be used for transportation, bike repair kits, solar flashlights and solar chargers. Members of the organization plan to ship the donations and distribute the items themselves, organizers said.

Similar rallies were planned in Oakland, Indianapolis, Chicago and Washington, D.C., according to organizers.

In September, Puerto Rico was devastated by Hurricane Irma and then Hurricane Maria, which made landfall on the island as a Category 4 storm. Maria wiped out the island’s power grid, which officials said will take months to rebuild.

On Tuesday, the House of Representatives’ Appropriations Committee approved $36.5 billion in emergency funding for relief and recovery from several hurricanes, including Maria, as well as the wildfires in California, according to Jennifer Hing, spokeswoman for committee chairman Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen. The committee’s bill includes a provision enabling low-income Puerto Ricans to receive emergency nutrition assistance, Hing said.

It was not immediately clear when the bill would move to the floor to be voted on by the entire House.

President Donald Trump has also asked Congress to approve a $4.9 billion government loan to help Puerto Rico pay some of its bills in the wake of Irma and Maria.

Republican and Democratic leaders have applauded the bill.

Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement on Wednesday that emergency funds should “not be siphoned off for bondholder payments,” which echoes the administration’s stance.

With Reuters


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