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Puerto Rican Officials Under Fire After Discovery of Unused Hurricane Aid

Massive protests have erupted in Puerto Rico after video reveals unused aid in the wake of the recent 4.7 magnitude earthquake that rocked the territory. A video posted on Facebook live revealed a warehouse full of unused aid, some of it dating back to Hurricane Maria, the category five hurricane that devastated the country in Sept. 2017. Puerto Rico has never fully recovered from the devastation. Due to the devastation of the hurricane, around 130,000 people in the country have had to vacate their homes and power outages are still occurring in the country. Even though the hurricane hit the country over two years ago, the death toll still remains unknown. The recent earthquakes have killed one, injured many and have damaged an abundance of homes.

The government of Puerto Rico initially responded by firing Carlos Acevedo, the head of the emergency management agency and handing over the agency to the National Guard. He initially denied the claim that the supplies were going to waste, however, the government still fired him. Housing Secretary Fernando Gil and Department of Family Secretary Glorimar Andújar have also been fired.

The Trump administration recently declared Puerto Rico in a state of disaster and the Department of Housing and Urban Development announced that they would be releasing 8.2 billion dollars of aid in response. The people of Puerto Rico are concerned that the controversy in the country will delay the aid that already took weeks to be granted, which Governor Wanda Vázquez has denied. However, she has acknowledged that this controversy will hurt their reputation in Washington.

In response to the discovery of the unused aid, Puerto Rican singer René Pérez organized a mass protest. Citizens of Puerto Rico took to the streets with pots and pans, demanding the governor, Wanda Vázquez, be removed from office. The protestors chanted "Where is Wanda? She's not here. She's busy hiding disaster supplies," and “This is not the end! It’s just the beginning!” However, some Puerto Ricans disagree with the protests and think efforts should be focused on the upcoming general elections in Nov. Governor Wanda is seeking a second term as governor and many believe change will only occur by voting.

In an attempt to avoid having the same fate as former Governor Rosselló, Governor Vázquez has held a lengthy news conference where she discussed governmental changes to address the controversy of the discovery of unused supplies. However, the country has still trended the hashtag #WandaRenuncia, meaning Wanda resign, in a similar attempt at how the country ousted the former Governor.

The protest continues to grow rapidly, and the fury of the Puerto Rican people is non-stop. To symbolize the removal of government officials who caused the death of many Puerto Ricans due to them hiding, the protestors have begun carrying a guillotine next to the Governor’s mansion.  

Puerto Rico is no stranger to protests. The previous governor, Ricardo A. Rosselló, resigned in Aug. 2019 after an exceptional uprising by the Puerto Rican people in response to leaked messages that contained homophobic and misogynistic remarks. The public officials in the chat also joked about Hurricane Maria victims. The current protests seem to resemble that same that outed Rosselló.

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