Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
September 28, 2017

Storm Hits Foreign American Island - Reveals System's Failure

A new example of how little Americans know about their own country - Washington Post, September 28

Puerto Rico is not a foreign country, at least it isn’t if you live in the United States. It is a U.S. territory, and those on the island who were born in Puerto Rico are American citizens (though, like denizens of the District of Columbia, have no voting rights in Congress).

But a new poll by an outfit called Morning Consult, as reported in the New York Times, found that only 54 percent of Americans know that people born in Puerto Rico are American citizens.

Someone belonging to the 46% of uninformed Americans is headline editor for the print edition of the Washington Post.


(The print edition headline, ‘Why can’t we get out of here?’ asks stranded American, was changed to ‘Why can’t we get out of here?’ Airports in Puerto Rico, other islands, damaged and slow to recover for its online version.)

On September 20 Puerto Rico was hit by hurricane Mary, then a category 4 storm. The U.S. has a professional civil defense organization called FEMA. It seemed overwhelmed, which is normal in the immediate aftermath of a large devastation. But the hurricane hit Puerto Rico 8 days ago and it the event had been predicted several days before. There was ample time to prepare and to get ready for recovery action. Why were there no distributed emergency depots for food, gasoline and diesel? Now hospitals are still shut down for lack of emergency power.

The problem with FEMA, it is said, is that it is too centralized and bureaucratic. Local disaster managers need full authority and readily available goods and funds they can spend right away, without asking higher ups. Meanwhile there is enough aid on Puerto Rico, but for lack of available transport, it is stacking up at the harbor and the airport. Now, a week too late, the U.S. military gets called in. It is incompetent at winning wars, but it traditionally knows a bit or two about logistics. In a few weeks Puerto Rico will be swamped with military trucks.

On September 10 the category 5 hurricane Irma hit Cuba very, very hard. A week later MEDICC reported:

87% of the population affected now has both electricity and water. No outbreaks of infectious diseases are reported, and cleanup is prioritized in both the capital and hardest-hit central provinces. Food processing centers are operating in all these provinces, and cooked food is being distributed in shelters (where 26,000 remain of the 1.7 million evacuees) and in areas without electricity.

Teaching activities have resumed throughout the country as of September 18, ...

Tarik Cyril Amar, of the history department of Columbia University, remarked today:

Tarik Cyril Amar‏ @TarikCyrilAmar

catastrophe in puerto rico reminiscent of late-Soviet chaos. Except, USA hasn't lost a Cold War and is much richer. How ARE they doing it?

In 1976 the French anthropologist Emmanual Todd predicted the fall of the Soviet Union. Fifteen years later his prediction came true. In 2001 he predicted the The Breakdown of the American Order:

Todd notes some disturbing American trends, such as rising stratification based on educational credentials, and the "obsolescence of unreformable political institutions."

Posted by b on September 28, 2017 at 22:50 UTC | Permalink

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This is a replay of the indifference shown by the Bush admin.towards the black folks in the La. Super-dome after the Katrina storm.

After much pressure, I see the Trump Admin. is finally moving to deal with the problem in the Caribbean region. If Puerto Rico was populated with rich white folks, the response, IMO, would have been immediate.

Instead of using the U$ navy to help effect regime change, they need to redirect to the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico areas to help the victims of the recent storms.

Posted by: ben | Sep 28 2017 23:20 utc | 1

But Puerto Ricans, as well as residents of the other US territories, can and do vote in the Presidential Primaries and send their delegates to the National Conventions. So they do have some influence on which two candidates get to run in the Nov Election even if they can't vote in that.

Posted by: forgetful | Sep 28 2017 23:23 utc | 2

ben 1
I was thinking along similar lines. Trump said it's an island out in the ocean. But so is Hawaii. If a hurricane had hit Hawaii, would the reaction have been as slow. Last week, DW or an MSM showed St Martin and how support from the French and Dutch had been swift including visits from leaders. Meanwhile Antigua next door faced little support from the Brits ... as my mother pointed out. At least Trump has lifted Jones Act restrictions.

Posted by: Curtis | Sep 28 2017 23:32 utc | 3

"The problem with FEMA, it is said, is that it is too centralized and bureaucratic."

I do not think this is a problem. Cuba probably has a "centralized and bureaucratic" organization or agency. The "problem" lay in societal character of each country or system.
Money is important in both countries but the one is based on strict profit and the other is not so. While Amerikkaan would sell own daughter for $20.00 the Cubans nurturing solidarity among human beings.

Well, the most indebted US state (I guess it is), now faced with this calamity maybe doesn't deserve anything better.

Expecting help from Americans? Good luck with that.

Posted by: Chauncey Gardiner | Sep 29 2017 0:07 utc | 4

It is several things:
1) Lack of preparedness at all levels, as nobody has final authority (committee decisions) or wants responsibility
2) Over-centralization; results in a "one-size-fits-all" approach to every disaster
3) Failure of local governments to accept help without "proper permits" or authorization, and similar wads of red tape
4) The general incompetence of the players - mayors, state reps, city council folks, etc. They do not want to get any blame, but they don't want to spend money on maintaining any level of preparedness.

The primary reason that the lights came back on in Texas and Louisiana was that we just went through this a decade ago with other storms. Power companies increased inventories of things for storm repair, which had been minimized to save costs before Katrina, Rita and Ike.

Just-in-time inventory management has its' own set of problems, particularly when a disaster strikes. At this point, most large transformers are made outside the USA, and yet few electric companies have spares required when they go down - it affects their profits to carry these items on their books, and it is their decision, not government or their customers.

But the real problem is that people, in general, simply believe that it will never happen to them. Thus they are not at all prepared for anything, assuming tomorrow will be just like yesterday. Only, sometimes it isn't.

Posted by: Oilman2 | Sep 29 2017 0:12 utc | 5

"Well, the most indebted US state (I guess it is), now faced with this calamity maybe doesn't deserve anything better."

Well Chauncey you sure have guts coming here with this wisdom.

Cuba is a soverign country. Peurto Rico is a US "protectorate" (or whatever), so they are full US citizens but they can't vote for senators and so on (unless they move to "real" states) ;)

Posted by: blues | Sep 29 2017 0:14 utc | 6

I guess I am dependent on the spell checker. Sorry.

Posted by: blues | Sep 29 2017 0:19 utc | 7

A Cuban relative relates that Cuba offered four brigades of electrical linemen and one of medics to assist in Puerto Rico, adding that that she only mentioned this because it is doubtful that such information would have been publicized in North America. I myself hadn't heard about this otherwise, and I feel sure that the offer was refused - Cuba being one of the countries toward which the US' newfound respect for sovereignty doesn't apply under President Trump.

Posted by: Norumbega | Sep 29 2017 0:24 utc | 8

Puerto Rico is "protectorate". That is funny word and status. And in all likelihood they are second class, say, citizen. And their island is served as target practice for US Navy.

Posted by: Chauncey Gardiner | Sep 29 2017 0:30 utc | 9

For those wondering why the US didn't do anything for in NOLA or Puerto Rico. You must understand that we are only tenants here. The bastards hardly do anything for us.

All the money goes for warlords in the Middle East.

Yes it is that simple.

Posted by: blues | Sep 29 2017 0:31 utc | 10

35 years in US prison. Fighting for independence of his own country. According to US authorities he is a terrorist.ópez_Rivera

Posted by: Chauncey Gardiner | Sep 29 2017 0:36 utc | 11

Yes Chauncey, they are protectorate. And their island is served as target practice for US Navy. (Why am I beginning to think you are Russian?)

The US government doesn't care about us. They only care about themselves. At least in Russia they seem to take care of the people.

Posted by: blues | Sep 29 2017 0:36 utc | 12

@5 Oilcrap

You simply do not understand nature of savage capitalism, you are illiterate.

After they privatize more-or-less everything, presumably to be more "efficient", and after they have imposed austerity (cut social spending) ie, rescind social networks the events like this is for them just "expense".

"There is no such thing as society" remember this?

Posted by: Chauncey Gardiner | Sep 29 2017 0:45 utc | 13

It sounds like Russian commie propaganda. But it's all true.

They don't call it the Great Satan for nothing.

Posted by: blues | Sep 29 2017 0:50 utc | 14

Right now, there is some snarling CIA agent out there who is fuming about my "treason". Of course, this agent is well-paid. And they believe everything they are told. That's what makes them such great agents.

Posted by: blues | Sep 29 2017 0:53 utc | 15

It seems even being a proper territory is not good enough to warrant mercy from the empire, if you're too far from the imperial core. Maybe we need a celebrity representative to say "Americans don't care about Puerto Ricans" on cable news.

Posted by: Anonymous | Sep 29 2017 0:54 utc | 16

Shit you don't get it???

Americans don't care about Americans.

How simple does it have to be explained??? [sic]

Posted by: blues | Sep 29 2017 1:00 utc | 17

Hey B, is it too late or too much trouble to edit the title of article?


Posted by: Laura Roslin | Sep 29 2017 1:01 utc | 18

"Strom" really has that real kind of German feel to it.

Yeah, it's the genuine article (adjective).

Posted by: blues | Sep 29 2017 1:06 utc | 19

Okay, it's a real noun. not just another adjective.

Posted by: blues | Sep 29 2017 1:12 utc | 20

blues @ 17: Yep, but, with one caveat. If you're wealthy & white, the people in our latest version of Govt, care.

Posted by: ben | Sep 29 2017 1:12 utc | 21

just think... syria could be a protectorate of the usa too! i guess afganistan, libya, iraq and south korea kind of are too in a funny sort of way...

with a protector like this, who needs enemies??

@8 norumbega.. that sounds about right... can't accept any stickin' cuban commie help.... reminds me of the marvin gaye song 'ain't too proud to beg' in reverse..

@10 blues... yeah... if money needs to go to the ''moderate'''headchoppers in the mid east - no problem, but help for puerto rico - they can wait!

@11 chauncy gardiner... yeah - that link tells everyone all they need to know about how many puerto ricans probably think of their 'special american status'.. usa with gun to puerto rico's head 'we will protect you'! what a racket / protectorate..

Posted by: james | Sep 29 2017 1:51 utc | 22

Puerto Rico was down before the hurricanes

"Even before the storm, Puerto Rico's electrical grid was crumbling and the island was in dire condition financially. Puerto Rico is struggling to restructure a portion of its $90 billion debt, and the Government has warned it was running out of money as it fights back against furloughs and other austerity measures imposed by a federal board overseeing the island's finances." . .here

Posted by: Don Bacon | Sep 29 2017 2:15 utc | 23

Calling out NK and using proxies to do battle with minnow countries are not exactly signals of confidence. Todd's reasoning is pretty sound on inspection, he'd probly be well liked at the bar... and if his timing on the Soviet call is to be matched then we're on the eve collapse, if not already inside.

By the time the US realises what a laughing stock it is, the parasitic money masters will have long since left the empty shell. Democracy and capitalism...sorry, tough mix.

Posted by: MadMax2 | Sep 29 2017 2:29 utc | 24

Adding insult to injury?

"Trump Admin. Charging Puerto Ricans Full Flight Price and Holding Passports to Evacuate Island"

Posted by: ben | Sep 29 2017 2:35 utc | 25

Homeland Zecurity grifts $50B from US taxpayers every year. In the 10 years without a major disaster, they have disappeared fully a half trillion dollars! Where is FEMA with $500 B in relief supplies? AWOL! Harvey was National Guard and private citizens doing rescue and relief. Where was FEMA with $500 B in relief supplies? AWOL! Irma the Pentagon stationed rescue ships off Mar-A-Lago and West Palm Beach, but when Irma changed course, they bugged out!?

Posted by: Chipnik | Sep 29 2017 2:36 utc | 26

From Middle High German stroum, strūm, strām, from Old High German stroum, strōm, from Proto-Germanic *straumaz, from Proto-Indo-European *srowmos, from *srew- (“to flow”). Compare Low German Stroom, Dutch stroom, English stream, Danish strøm

Posted by: brian | Sep 29 2017 3:01 utc | 27

There is sufficient USA money (unlimited paper and digits on computer terminals) and resources to do whatever there is a will to do. A billion a day is wasted on military contracts to private companies like Boeing, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, and dozens of companies we've never heard of.

Somebodies in the US gubmint are enjoying the unnecessary suffering of Puerto Rico and its people.

Posted by: fast freddy | Sep 29 2017 3:15 utc | 28

I read above that Don Bacon has the real reason for the tardy US response to Puerto Rico.

The ROI on Puerto Rico is not the same as it was back when it became a protectorate as a balance to communist Cuba. The US built infrastructure and provided FREE college education.....don't know about currently.

Anyhow, the geo-political world has moved on; Puerto Rico does not hold the strategic value it once did and the Maria response shows that lack of geo-political priority.......or profit potential.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Sep 29 2017 4:59 utc | 29

I find the comparison to Cuba's Irma impact misguiding as Irma never actually made landfall over the island but scratched along its northern shore. Whereas Maria's center (where the strongest wind and rainfall occurs) moved over Puerto Rico during several hours - a full hit.
This is not to say that Cuban authorities do not work way better in this regard compared to Americans in Puerto Rico. This has been on display in several past cases where Cuba was far more affected. But let us face the sad fact. The illegal war America led against Spain in 1898 and the subsequent acquisition of territories were never regarded as full American territory, neither Guam nor Puerto Rico can ever hope to become fully regarded as Americans. And this shows in how America deals with these territories, they hold a mere strategic purpose and its inhabitants are nothing more than second class citizens (in the case of Puerto Rico they even refused to drop their Spanish mother-tongue and switch to English as envisioned by the imperialists).

Having said all that, Puerto Ricans and their Elites do not really want to become independent as thee economic benefit derived from being associated with the US is (for now) still outweighing the downsides.

Posted by: Alexander P | Sep 29 2017 5:05 utc | 30

I read an interesting perspective on Puerto Rico earlier. The person was responding to someone saying that Americans were at risk in Puerto Rico because of Trump, they said "Many Puerto Ricans don't consider themselves Americans. Who are you to make the Americans?" It reminds me some of the things happening in Xinjiang (sometimes called East Turkestan). So it seems that this hurricane has heightened many of the contradictions in Puerto Rico. Is it American, because US says it is, or maybe because becoming fully American is the only way to get relief? After all, US policy towards that "territory" has never been focused on actually improving the lives of Puerto Ricans. It has been as oppressive and mean towards it as it has been to any Latin and South American state it strong-arms favorable terms out of, perhaps even more effectively due to its special status. I'm not sure what to make of it. I feel like US-PR policy is a black hole in US media, very rarely reported on. It seems the politicians find that this situation, where Americans know nothing about PR except know enough to insist that it's part of America and are Americans, is very agreeable.

Posted by: Yes-man | Sep 29 2017 5:26 utc | 31

Norumbega @ 8
Yes, Cuba's offered to send an emergency campaign hospital with 39 doctors to provide Puerto Rico’s population with health services. In addition, Cuba offered four brigades of electric workers to help our sister nation rebuild its electrical system.

Cuba immediately sent medical and relief brigades to Dominica and Antigua and Barbuda, which are also affected by recent hurricanes Maria and Irma. In fact Cuba provided aid to French Islands before France did!

Unfortunately, Trump has refused to waiver the Jones Act to allow foreign aid to Puerto Rico by foreign flagged ships.

Aid to Puerto Rico by the US government is slow in coming due to a just too late emergency response system. What aid that is being supplied is trapped in shipping containers. Surprising that Senator McCain was the politician the most critical of the “failure to extend the same relief efforts to Puerto Rico that it provided to parts of the mainland United States.”

For those not familiar to the FEMA Incident Command System this after incident approach is codified in the system. In contrast, the US Forest Service was effective at the Katrina Hurricane and on 9/11.

Posted by: Krollchem | Sep 29 2017 5:47 utc | 32

"On September 20 Puerto Rico was hit by hurricane Mary, then a category 4 storm."

It was Cat 5 at landfall:

Posted by: Bob Beal | Sep 29 2017 5:58 utc | 33

"In 2001 he predicted the The Breakdown of the American Order..."

Violent chaos no longer an option?

Excerpt from last paragraphs of article (link at bottom):

"Russian military power and Chinese economic might have thus played an invaluable role in restricting the US war machine. The DPRK even took a further step by attaining a formidable nuclear and conventional deterrent, effectively blocking the United States from influencing domestic events by bringing about destruction and chaos.

"While this reality is difficult for Washington to take, it must come to accept it. After almost seventy years of imperialistic chaos and destruction wrought all over the globe, America’s friends and enemies are starting to react to this situation. Washington is left with a president full of sound and fury, but a credible militarily posture is now but a thing of the past.

"The financial mechanisms that have allowed for this indiscriminate military spending are based on an intrinsic bond between dollar, oil, and the role of American money as the world reserve currency. The transition of the world order from a unipolar reality to a multipolar one is deeply tied to the economic and diplomatic strategies of Russia and China..."

Posted by: Bob Beal | Sep 29 2017 6:00 utc | 34

b, either the US government is incompetent or it is competent. In this post you argue they are incompetent. But in general you attribute omnipotence to the US government. Which is it, b?

Posted by: ab initio | Sep 29 2017 6:09 utc | 35

@35 ab initio... my answer - incompetent...

Posted by: james | Sep 29 2017 6:35 utc | 36

Cuba often offers other nations, especially in Africa and the Americas help after catastrophe. they offered to send teams/help to Houston as well, but I don't think that their offer was even heard

they are a functioning democracy in the good sense of the word, responding to the needs of the people; the united states is an oligarchy a very corrupted form of spent 'democracy', where those who have do not feel to be part of a community of people which comprises a nation and this selfishness this attitude id reflected immediately in the higher echelons of power. the obama administration, for all its many faults, would have clearly responded more quickly and effectively, but the trump administration is at the top among the most selfish, uncaring and stratified that I know of in the last 100 years of the republic.

the Twitter Chimp I mean Champ in Chief is too distracted by other more pressing issues, I am sure, than the health and welfare of some 3.5 million citizens in Puerto Rico(not to mention the misery among millions in Florida and Texas etc since the hurricanes/flooding.) There was hundreds of billions to bail out the bankers, but not to bail out the destitute in these disaster states

"The health of the people is really the foundation upon which all their happiness and all their powers as a state depend." - Benjamin Disraeli

Posted by: michaelj72 | Sep 29 2017 6:42 utc | 37

Part of the problem is that Puerto Ricans (living in a colony under colonialism) are semi-citizens with most rights and benefits. They do not; however, pay federal income taxes but they do pay FICA so get Medicare and Social Security. Perhaps if they paid the same federal taxes as all Americans they might get better benefits? The protectorate government is also completely bankrupt and likely from internal corruption so there are enormous problems that predate the hurricane. At least they have citizenship though. Most people are unaware that American Samoa which is identical to PR as a colony of the Empire, do not get citizenship due to a stupid 19th century law which declares them to be savages. That law was renewed and upheld by the Obama administration in 2015.

Puerto Ricans have voted several times to become a state within the United States and this has failed every time. The right thing to do is to give them their freedom if they don't really want to be a part of the US. The island was stolen from the Spanish in 1898 and I think it is high time for the US to cast loose all the US colonies. But, so many of them make nice bases close to people we don't like much (Guam for example). The US is still an Imperialist nation along with France and Britain. Maybe it is time to end that?

Posted by: Old Microbiologist | Sep 29 2017 7:56 utc | 38

Puerto Rico,
the planet’s oldest colony is being held by its oldest representative democracy…'

the above statement is a half truth.

Posted by: denk | Sep 29 2017 8:42 utc | 39

I think I'll go back to San Juan...

♫ ♬ ♩♪♫♬ ♩♪ ♫

Posted by: john | Sep 29 2017 10:24 utc | 40

Oilman2 @5,

As I understand it, power distribution transformers are not interchangeable parts. Spares for each would mean a lot of copper/iron/mineral oil to have sitting in a yard deteriorating for years until some unpredictable upset finally pulls them into service.

ab initio @35,

Why not both? Incompetent at serving its citizens, competent at serving the interests of itself and its ruling class. Insistence that it must be one or the other is the mark of a poor or corrupt analyst.

Posted by: Jonathan | Sep 29 2017 10:56 utc | 41

I still have not been able to directly communicate with my mom in PR.
Terrain plays a huge part in the current difficulties. Another issue, self-inflicted wound are the type of government they want. The reason I gave up and left.
For example, you need a permit to prune your own trees. The number of people owning a chainsaw in PR, compared to Houston, is miniscule. In mybarea of Houston, after Rita and Ike, the song of chainsaws was constant all over the place, almost nonstop for 4 or 5 days. We cleared up thing very quickly.
PR was unprepared because they keep electing incapable and corrupt politicians and put up with incompetence with their "hay bendito."

Posted by: JaimeInTexas | Sep 29 2017 11:37 utc | 42

Storm Maria was simply the Coup de grâce on an already dead country.
Until and unless Puerto Rico agrees to privitazation of all it's resources; it will be left to a slow death until they, the Puerto Rican's, have no choice.
The U.S. is a cruel master...

Posted by: V. Arnold | Sep 29 2017 11:43 utc | 43

I believe the ship has brought in supplies and has already picked up Puerto Rican evacuees and is on its way to the Virgin Islands to do the same. There is no charge for these passengers!

"Royal Caribbean cancels cruise and sends ship to help Hurricane Maria victims in Puerto Rico"

Posted by: forgetful | Sep 29 2017 11:52 utc | 44

I took Trump's mentioning of Puerto Rico's debt as a signal that he wasn't going to intentionally avoid repairing their infrastructure, power lines, roads, etc. because he wasn't going to let them get a freebie for their past neglect of fiscal irresponsibility. That he was just going to send in food, water, and medicine and no more. Everything that I have seen in the news confirms this. This to me is unconscionable because their recovery should be handled the same as any other U.S. area and not be punishment for sin.

Rush Limbaugh
He put up some bad Karma points on the board, prior to Maria he was moralizing about how Cuba was devastated by Irma because they are a bunch of commies who eschew capitalism. By any account I have read, they held up much better and I don't believe his new rap that entrepreneurs will swoop into P.R. and fix their power lines (like they stopped the oil fires in Iraq) for obvious reasons, there isn't the same money to be had. I wish P.R. well but this requires political intervention, not Monday morning lectures about capitalism.

Posted by: Christian Chuba | Sep 29 2017 12:54 utc | 45

Our elites just don't care. We can spend trillions on endless pointless foreign wars, and trillions bailing out the big banks, but reinforce our own infrastructure? Nah. Just let the place rot. Strip it of cash: when you bleed trillions out of an economy, is it really surprising that debts increase and things fall apart? You can't just blame the Puerto Ricans on this.

And on another front: we are told over and over that citizenship and nationality don't matter. Yes Puerto Ricans are US citizens, but why, in our current logic, does that give them any more claim to our concern than Haitians and Cubans etc.etc? And a lot of current Puerto Ricans are in fact recent immigrants from places like this. There shall be open borders.

If we destroy the idea of a nation, we reduce the resistance to importing foreign nationals as a source of cheap labor - and we reduce our concern for other US citizens. An island in the middle of the Caribbean? There's lots of islands there. Who cares? Those oligarchs who say they love everyone equally, really mean that they love nobody at all except themselves...

Posted by: TG | Sep 29 2017 13:07 utc | 46

A coworker and shift leader is from PR with relatives in the SE of the island. Before the storm I asked her what she thought about the independence movements from decades ago. She said there are plenty of moochers on the island who live on govt money including disability. But it's a good question on whether the US needs these "possessions" any longer. Aid will slowly get there including all the semi trailers shown on MSM. The odd thing is that as with Haiti these are opportunities to build and do it right with infrastructure like water/sewer/electricity built in. Also, building materials are what they most need after water and food. But do these ever get sent?

Posted by: Curtis | Sep 29 2017 13:09 utc | 47

So 50 plus years of American sanctions has ended up with Cuba being the Exceptional Nation.

Posted by: Morongobill | Sep 29 2017 13:09 utc | 48

>>>> Christian Chuba | Sep 29, 2017 8:54:22 AM | 45

...this requires political intervention...

Cuban R2P by any chance.
I don't believe his new rap that entrepreneurs will swoop into P.R. and fix their power lines...

More likely to swoop in, scoop up the fallen power lines and sell then for scrap - that's the capitalist way.

Americans seem to take better care of their cats and dogs rather than their fellow Americans.

Posted by: Ghostship | Sep 29 2017 13:12 utc | 49

The power company is government run, as the telephone company once was. That is why the power distribution has sucked for decades. It is nothing new. This crisis just highlights it.
Want to know why the roads, especially the "highways," are in such attrocious condition? Because the truckers threaten to strike if weight load limits are enforced. The hue and cry at the mention of mobile scales. This has been going on for decades.
The people in PR's reaction? Hay bendito.

Posted by: JaimeInTexas | Sep 29 2017 13:41 utc | 50

>>>> TG | Sep 29, 2017 9:07:16 AM | 46

If we destroy the idea of a nation...

Then everybody will be under the control of Washington, nobody will able to refuse their every order. Do you want what has happened in the Middle East where the United States has done its best to destroy nation states, to happen elsewhere?

Posted by: Ghostship | Sep 29 2017 13:58 utc | 51

The storm was named Maria, not Mary. Maria, the name of the Puerto Rican heroine of West Side Story, which even has a song about her name.

Posted by: lysias | Sep 29 2017 14:34 utc | 52

The song "America" in West Side Story even has the lines "Nobody knows in America Puerto Rico's in America."

Posted by: lysias | Sep 29 2017 14:40 utc | 53

The US military has the men, transportation and materials that are needed to help people and boost recovery but the US military response has been lethargic as described here.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Sep 29 2017 15:04 utc | 54

A few thoughts on Puerto Rico:

Population of about 3.4 million, roughly just under that of Berlin, Sydney, Toronto or Atlanta. But young workers/families that can were leaving - you either work for the government in PR, slave-labor job (or test subject) in Big Pharma or you're a pensioner or on disability. PR's population keeps declining and they will lose another hundred thousand or two of their prime workforce after this. The PR governor is discouraging people from leaving and (rumor) has a hand in restricting flights out. Commercial jet pilots are perfectly capable of landing/taking off passenger jets without navigation aids. The runway is clear. Why no passenger service for over a week? The rich are able to come and go as they please on their private jets.

Puerto Rico is basically a failed state. Nothing against Puerto Ricans, but their government is about as functional as Ukraine, Afghanistan or Iraq. Nobody can explain the finances. Corruption, graft and bribery are accepted as normal by those within the government, and outside the government nobody really knows - it's all secret. No auditing, no accountability and no incentive for either.

As JaimeInTexas mentioned, the bankrupt power company is state-owned as well as the bankrupt water and sewer authority. They have done virtually no capital improvements in years - they only had enough (through debt issuance) to fund ongoing operations. Over half of the water supply disappears to leakage or theft. The utility's bonds are rated 'junk' and nobody will buy any new bonds they issue. In other words, they have NO money to fix anything and can't borrow more from anyone. The reason the Cuban lineworkers were not needed is because the electric company can't even afford replacement transmission towers, insulators, wire or power poles. The wire from downed lines is being stripped today for copper. A conservative estimate for restoring the power to the major urban areas of PR is nine months *if* they had the money to do so. San Juan maybe three or four months. Imagine Berlin or Atlanta residents being told they won't have electricity for the next six months or so.

The government itself is broke. They were liquidating state pension funds at the rate of $1 billion/yr for years to pay government pensions - that's after spending all the contributions of current government workers. PR would have run out of legal authority to do that anymore next year. Not only are current workers throwing their money into a pension they'll never see, but ALL government pensions will probably just end next year. So your 80-year-old grandpa that uses a walker and lives off his government pension will just have to accept the fact that he needs to get back to work or starve, and there is not work.

The well-censored news is that PR is starting to turn into a Mad Max post-Apocalyptic hell-hole. This is Christmas for the many small criminal gangs there and the police are mostly useless against them (even if you could call them). When the gang's families run out of food, they are not going to beg FEMA for any. They're going to start kicking in their neighbor's door and taking what they need. So-called US Department of Homeland Security might send a few investigators down to help with drug arrests - like the did in the Virgin Islands. Martial law should have been declared and FEMA should have sent thousands of law enforcement or military there by now just to protect the little people from crime and looting (but DHS is for the protection of the state, not the little people). The Puerto Rican governor and local media censors all this and US media won't report it. FEMA is doing a great job! Everyone in PR is happy! Look - helicopters with a few cases of bottled water. Yay!

You can't possibly ship enough bottled water for 3.5 million people and damn sure are not going to get enough of it where it's needed most. Water-borne diseases will be a threat until they get the water distribution networks fixed. Same for food. ATMs are out of cash, store shelves are mostly empty (in the few stores remaining open). Gas (petrol) lines were six hours long in places after the storm, but most stations in rural areas ran out and don't know when they'll be getting any more. Credit/debit cards don't work because of the power/phone issues. Cooking gas isn't available any more in many places. Basic medical care is useless except for something that requires a bandage or splint. The pharmacies are either not open or empty, so it's pointless going to a doctor if you will need a prescription filled. Dairy farmers are dumping fresh milk into sewers because they can't process it, nobody will pick it up and nobody is distributing any to the stores. FEMA can't unload aid because the ports are filled with shipping containers of stuff that retailer's either can't (no drivers or trucks) or will not (store closed) pick up. If they hauled every container out to sea and dumped them, the port would STILL be unable to handle the food and water needed for 3.4 million people - it's just not physically possible.

As usual with any disaster, the poor, the real (vs. scammer) disabled, the elderly or anyone in a rural area will be the most vulnerable. People figure individual households have maybe a week or two of food, so that will be gone in a few days. Incompetent, slow-moving FEMA knows this is going to be a humanitarian disaster and is trying to limit the damage TO THEIR IMAGE. They bragged about shipping satellite phones to the head of each Puerto Rican municipality, but were kind of quiet about the number that didn't even work when they arrived. The US MSM is glad to help cover up for PR government and US federal agencies incompetence and stupidity, and are doing an outstanding job so far. When enough cell phone service is restored and the little people start reporting about the conditions there, Twitter/Facebook will probably censor PR accounts to 'help' FEMA/DHS 'manage' public perceptions of their effectiveness.

And all this is happening when the US has 40 thousand of its soldiers in Germany protecting us from Russia, and 35 thousand in Japan protecting us from the red menace - China! Or North Korea - I forget. We just shipped an entire armored brigade to Poland from Kansas. The US government is claiming 4,500 US military are now supporting the PR relief effort, but hide the fact that 3,000 of them are PR National Guard stationed there and either didn't show up for work, or have no fuel/trucks/equipment to do much of anything. We are sending down a three-star general to handle the effort (and take the blame). That poor guy's career is officially over.

Posted by: PavewayIV | Sep 29 2017 15:51 utc | 55

Dear Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA): The above list was off the top of my head and should be a decent start for your MSM mouthpieces to start attacking an negative news as 'fake news' on your bumbling Puerto Rican relief efforts. Let me know if you need more - I have plenty.

Posted by: PavewayIV | Sep 29 2017 16:02 utc | 56

"You can't possibly ship enough bottled water for 3.5 million people and damn sure are not going to get enough of it where it's needed most. Water-borne diseases will be a threat until they get the water distribution networks fixed..."
"And all this is happening when the US has 40 thousand of its soldiers in Germany protecting us from Russia, and 35 thousand in Japan protecting us from the red menace - China! Or North Korea"


Military takeover PR, though, will create other issues later. Too much history.

Posted by: JaimeInTexas | Sep 29 2017 16:17 utc | 57

Couple of good articles on Puerto Rico in Counterpunch today...

Some informative historical context there...

'When the US took over Puerto Rico in 1898, Puertoricans fed themselves. Their economy was primarily agricultural. Around 40% of the land was given over to coffee, 32% for growing food for local consumption, 15% to sugar and 1% for tobacco. Over 90% of the farms and agricultural resources were owned by local Puertoricans.

Within a few years, US tariffs required that Puertorican coffee had to be sent to the US before it could be sold in Europe. The 1899 hurricane and the adoption of US currency on the island was the death knell of Puertorican coffee production. US companies then began buying up land and soon sugar became the dominant crop, production increasing by an incredible 1200% by 1929 with 80% owned by US sugar companies.

In the years between 1899-1929, unemployment went from 17% – 36% with ¼ to a third of workers unemployed most of the year. Eventually local food production collapsed and export dominated agricultural production became the norm. By 1940, 80% “of all farmland was owned by large corporations or landlords with 500 acres or more.” (Perez, 1976, pp. 6-7)'

The author fittingly cites Frantz Fanon...

'Colonialism only loosens its hold when the knife is at its throat...'

Posted by: flankerbandit | Sep 29 2017 16:22 utc | 58

One of the facts that Trump has either forgotten or didn't know to begin with (more likely) is that Puerto Ricans who are residents of the US have full voting rights just like any other American citizen. And boy, are they pissed off!

Back in my NY school days, I had many Puerto Rican classmates and friends, and that was back in the 1950s and early 60s.

Posted by: forgetful | Sep 29 2017 16:23 utc | 59

PavewayIV, you are making Puerto Rico sound like Venezuela.

Glad you mentioned the water bottles, I just knew there was something about it that didn't sit right with me. It looks great on TV to show that 'you are doing something' but it's terribly inefficient. Why should you need water bottles at this stage? It's not like they are still flooded, in a functional society all you would have to do is fix whatever damage had been done to the infrastructure.

Maybe Cuba should roll into the place for a humanitarian R2P intervention.

Posted by: Christian Chuba | Sep 29 2017 16:24 utc | 60

The reality of Puerto Rico is beginning to settle in my mind:

The USSA government is simply squatting on Puerto Rico.

That's all. And the USSA is making it very difficult for the USSA "citizens" there to relocate away from the disaster -- Because it needs these "citizens" to remain there simply in order to "maintain the squat". Get it? The USSA Ruling Mafia does not care at all if these "citizens" are destitute or miserable. They are simply human bargaining chips, or placeholders so to speak. So they will send food-water-and-medicine, but there will be no repairs.

Actually, the rest of the USSA "citizens" in the "real states" are in exactly the same sorry boat. They are hostages to power, it's just a little less obvious. The "citizens" of the UK, Israel, and so on are also in this same boat, but they have super-efficient ways of making the peasants feel "important" -- But at the end of the day they are of no real importance -- They are merely human placeholders.

Posted by: blues | Sep 29 2017 16:29 utc | 61

JaimeInTexas@56 - Tell your friends/family in Puerto Rico that there is really no possibility that they will ever get the attention that someplace equally populated (like Atlanta) would get in a disaster.

There's only one sure way to get the US government to do anything meaningful there: Puerto Rico needs to announce its intention to declare independence from the US. At the same time, they should establish diplomatic relations with Russia and begin talks about joining the Russian Federation itself or the Commonwealth.

I can guarantee with the utmost confidence that Puerto Rico will see at least two US aircraft carrier battle groups and maybe 100,000 US troops by next week. Do it - it's the only way.

Posted by: PavewayIV | Sep 29 2017 16:42 utc | 62

has the usa ever been this inept??

Posted by: james | Sep 29 2017 16:54 utc | 63

Correction and apologies - I was using an old population number for the Atlanta metropolitan area. The current population is reported at 5.8 million, and the city itself has just under a half-million. Puerto Rico's population is closer to Los Angeles (city, not metropolitan area) of 3.9 million.

Posted by: PavewayIV | Sep 29 2017 17:00 utc | 64

Understanding Puerto Rico requires looking at its history and the fact that it is a United States colony. Vulture Capitalists like Paul Singer used their influence on Congress to prevent Puerto Rico from being able to declare bankruptcy.

The result of this has been Puerto Rico being sucked dry with no limits through privatization, austerity, dismantling of social programs, and the rest of the neo-liberal goodies from the IMF's playbook.

Abby Martin did a good piece on Puerto Rico:

Puerto Rico: Colonial Bondage & Resistance

Puerto Rico’s massive debt has been discussed at length in Congress and the media, all omitting the most important fact: the history of being a colonial subject for over 500 years, still owned and controlled by the United States.

Posted by: Tobin Paz | Sep 29 2017 17:01 utc | 65

james@62 - "has the usa ever been this inept??"

Of course we have, James. It just never *looked* this bad before - it's all in the marketing. Whatever problems we have had that marketing couldn't fix, censorship fixed. Lying helped, too. We also use HAARP to control people's thoughts, but it doesn't work on Canadians for some reason.

Posted by: PavewayIV | Sep 29 2017 17:10 utc | 66

Geez, who’d thought; Juan Cole went out on a thin limb for PR with a reminder on its ruin by NAFTA and Congress. Strong language for Cole.

Cole pleads to give PR the $50 billion that was just given the Pentagon.

If Trump Were Really President, He’d Forgive Puerto Rico’s Debts and Rescue It

I’m not sure what Donald Trump thinks the job of president consists of. One task is to swing into action when 3.4 million Americans are living without electricity, 40% of them without potable water, and hundreds of thousands without shelter. When some 80% of its agricultural crops were wiped out. This is an apocalyptic scenario. We can’t even know what is going on very much because there is no wifi most places. Some entire towns haven’t been heard from! A dam may fail, endangering 70,000 people. It will take decades to rebuild.

As Daniel Gross (@grossdm) wrote on Twitter,
“More US citizens live in Puerto Rico than live in the Dakotas, Vermont, Wyoming, and Alaska combined. I don’t see Congress lifting a finger.”
Trump himself only had insults to offer, when he wasn’t turning his full presidential attention to protesting athletes:

The United States conquered Puerto Rico away from the Spanish Empire in 1898. Unlike Cuba, which became a protectorate and gained independence in 1902, Puerto Rico became a Commonwealth or territory of the United States. The Jones-Shaforth Act of 1917 granted the island’s inhabitants US citizenship. In 1948, they were permitted to elect their own governor, and in 1952 they adopted a constitution for their Commonwealth. Puerto Rico, however, is not a state and so lacks Congressmen and the two senators that it should have.

In the first half of the twentieth century, the island was exploited by US sugar companies. Then low wages allowed the grown of industry. In 1976 Congress enacted Section 936 of the Internal Revenue Code, which exempted US companies from taxes on their operations in Puerto Rico. Hundreds of companies rushed to the island and opened factories. People’s incomes went up over the next twenty years as a middle class grew.
But then disaster struck. In the mid-1990s the catastrophic Newt Gingrich congress repealed section 936. Then it enacted NAFTA, removing tariffs with Mexico.

Remember, Puerto Rico is the United States. It uses the dollar. Federal minimum wage legislation applies there. With no tax break from the US government and given the relatively expensive cost of labor, Puerto Rico could not compete with the low wages in Mexico, now that Mexico also paid no tariffs to export goods to the US. Companies fled the island.

The only way to avoid a sudden plunge into dire poverty was to borrow money, and the Commonwealth’s debt ballooned to $70 bn. Beginning around 2000, families who could afford to began emigrating to the mainland. Hundreds of thousands of people left, which means that the remaining population is older and poorer and even less likely to be able to restore prosperity.

The decisions that plunged Puerto Ricans into misery were taken over their heads, and they were powerless even to enter the debate, inasmuch as they lack statehood and so lack representation in Congress. The mainland has casually ruined their lives with arbitrary legislation.[.]

Here’s how.

1. Offer them serious debt relief. If you have $50 bn. to give the Pentagon, which it doesn’t even want it, you have $50 bn for reducing PR debt.

2. Put back effing Section 936 into the Federal tax code to encourage businesses to go to Puerto Rico and put its people to work.

there is more at link

Posted by: likklemore | Sep 29 2017 17:25 utc | 67

Wall Street Vultures Descend On Debt-Ridden Puerto Rico

Colonies exist so that the colonizer will benefit economically and politically. Since the U.S. invaded and occupied Puerto Rico in 1898, it has extracted profit in numerous ways: First, through converting it into a sugar colony. After World War II Puerto Rico was transformed through “Operation Bootstrap” into a special economic zone to benefit U.S. corporations under the guise of “development via export-led industrialization.” As a captive market, Puerto Rico also became the home to the most Wal-Marts per square meter in the world. Finally, Puerto Rico’s colonial “neither U.S. state nor independent state” political status allowed the U.S. bond market to give special exemptions to investors, which has brought Puerto Rico to its current debt “crisis.”

During the 1930s, the anti-imperialist congressman Vito Marcantonio sponsored a study which revealed that since 1898, U.S. corporations had extracted as much as $400 billion in profits from Puerto Rico.

$400 Billion (not inflation adjusted) in a little over 30 years... ouch.

Posted by: Tobin Paz | Sep 29 2017 17:27 utc | 68

@54 Paveway 4

'...Commercial jet pilots are perfectly capable of landing/taking off passenger jets without navigation aids. The runway is clear. Why no passenger service for over a week? The rich are able to come and go as they please on their private jets...

The fact that scheduled carriers [ie airlines] are not operating there does not necessarily imply something sinister...

Airline flights are governed by the rules in CFR 14 Part 121...which are extensive and cover every last detail...

For example 121.117 Airport Required Data...says...

'No certificate holder... may use any airport unless it is properly equipped and adequate for the proposed operation, considering such items as size, surface, obstructions, facilities, public protection, lighting, navigational and communications aids, and ATC...

From what I understand the ATC radar was severaly damamged...probably weather reporting equipment too...

Navaids aren't as crucial as you pointed out, but then there is the issue with the 'public protection' and 'lighting' in the airport terminals etc...

Private jets operate under different rules and don't use the public terminals...

I think the airlines are probably trying as best they can to get flights in and out...

Having said that, I heartily endorse your very good overview of that dire situation which sounds horrific...

And I fully support your message, which that the US does not care about the little people...priorities are completely skewed...

As usual the people get screwed, while the 1 percent get richer and fatter off our labors...

Posted by: flankerbandit | Sep 29 2017 17:28 utc | 69

They almost all already vote Democrat.

Huge difference when OR is an island about 900 miles ESE Miami. No rednecks trailering hobbyists to affected people possible.

At what point, though, can start putting some blame on P'rricans for bad choices and allowing such incompetence to "govern" for so long?

I recall a fable about a grasshopper and the ants.

At some point PR got to stop claiming it is everyone else's fault.

The time to prepare is before the crisis. Well, the crisis is here, winter has arrived, and because they chose and wrongly now they want all who sacrifice to make prudent choices in their life to come, nay, demand we rescue. This apply not just to PR.

Posted by: JaimeInTexas | Sep 29 2017 17:33 utc | 70

hobbyists??? Make that jonboats

Posted by: JaimeInTexas | Sep 29 2017 17:34 utc | 71

I guess the criticized headline is not so bad. On the island there are two sets of Americans: the local ones, and the stranded. If it will drag for a much longer time, Stranded-American will become a new ethnic group.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Sep 29 2017 17:39 utc | 72

PR taxes are high. There is, was?, a huge underground cash economy. Again, and choices made and always blaming others.

Posted by: JaimeInTexas | Sep 29 2017 17:39 utc | 73

Israel has received more aid from Trump than either Houston or Puerto Rico.

Just let that sink in.

Trump is travelling to Asia to finalize his $4B new money laundering and prostitution ring hotel:casino with Xi.

Just let that sink in.

US GDP is now NEGATIVE (ex- Treasury Deficits)

Just let that sink in.

Posted by: Chipnik | Sep 29 2017 17:55 utc | 74

flankerbandit cites:

Colonialism only loosens its hold when the knife is at its throat...

yeah, but fascists only relinquish power when it's pried from their cold, dead hands.

Posted by: john | Sep 29 2017 17:57 utc | 75


No, viciously competent, like an industrial meat mascerator chugging through the bones of a carcass.

You are confusing your sad priorities with theirs. Store is open 24x7x365.

Posted by: Chipnik | Sep 29 2017 18:07 utc | 76

Jamieintexas, please read 66..

likklemore @ 66: Nice post, thanks.. Jamieintexas wants to blame the "passengers on the train" for the train wreck, a classic neo-con misdirection.

Posted by: ben | Sep 29 2017 18:36 utc | 77

@69 JaimeInTexas

At what point, though, can start putting some blame on P'rricans for bad choices and allowing such incompetence to "govern" for so long?

I don't think you understand the effects of colonialism on it's subjects. Your statement is similar to telling the Congolese to not have made the poor decision of letting King Leopold into the country.

You are also ignoring the effects of FBI assassinations and Cointelpro surveillance on Puerto Ricans:
Secret FBI files on 100,000 Puerto Ricans…thousands arrested…Chaos in 1950 Puerto Rico

Starting in the mid-1930s, and continuing for over half a century, the FBI developed a secret information program in Puerto Rico – it was called carpetas. These were secret police files, containing intimate personal information. The files were built by a network of police officers, confidential informants, FBI agents – and the amount of information they contained was staggering.

Puerto Rico is owned, lock stock and barrel, by the United States.

Posted by: Tobin Paz | Sep 29 2017 18:39 utc | 78

No, I understand perfectly well.
What does colonialism has to do whether a pothole is properly and in a timely manner? Or, whether lion sculptures are out on a fountain that cannot be turned on because it throws water outside the fountain? Or, with just quit maintenance on some welcome to city easement that looks worse than had it not been constructed to begin with? Or, with properties taken through eminent domain because storm surge / flooding danger, to be then developed into public housing and then title given to those properties to the residents ... to buy their votes?
The list can go and on ...

Posted by: JaimeInTexas | Sep 29 2017 18:53 utc | 79

I have an independentista relative that was killed/murdered whatever by the police. Some say it was an FYI setup.
But, I also lost two relatives in the DuPont Plaza fire. A fire started by a striking transfer union member.

Posted by: JaimeInTexas | Sep 29 2017 18:56 utc | 80

My family runs the gamut from independently to ELA to statehooders. The statehooder side think that all the problems will magically be fixed by achieving stathood. The ELA sude, many are really independently but are cowards and will not actually vote for independence. The independentistas ... Too many socialists and worse.
Anything else?

Posted by: JaimeInTexas | Sep 29 2017 19:00 utc | 81

@ Ben 76 Thanks for your kind support

@ JaimeInTexas 72

”PR Taxes are high” [.]

Is that why mainland companies set up shop there or mainland citizens ( hedge fund guys and gals ) choose to move there; one standout example being Peter Schiff! ?
Really do you have a reading comprehension challenge?

One of the factors contributing to PR’s economic ruin is that it became a tax haven for rich individuals and corporations alike and then…….oops, they fled when bshtf.

4Jul 2014 Forbes

“Hate Taxes? Move to Tax-Free Puerto Rico, Stay American, Avoid IRS”

4 April 2015 NYTimes:
“Stop Letting the Rich Move to Puerto Rico as a Tax Haven”

20 Dec, 2016 Reuters: “The crisis in Puerto Rico”
How dependence on corporate tax breaks corroded Puerto Rico’s economy

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
You think?

Posted by: likklemore | Sep 29 2017 19:06 utc | 82

flankerbandit@68 - None of the large airports lost runway lighting - they have to have emergency power by FAA regs and days of fuel for the generators. The largest airport in San Juan was already getting a few chartered commercial passenger jets in last Friday, the 22nd, two days after the hurricane. I assume that San Juan International met whatever conditions were required for those flights to land and (presumably) take off again. The number of flights per day was restricted by 'officials' for various nonsense excuses - mostly to cover for the airlines reluctance to operate there.

One of the first flights in on the 22nd was an American Airlines flight carrying Transportation Safety Agency (TSA) officers - among others - to help manually screen passengers and luggage at the airport. The x-ray snooper and metal detectors were not working. Because the most important thing to the US government in an extraordinary natural disaster is the possibility of shoe bombers or drug smuggling. The manual screening was, in part, used as an excuse by airlines to restrict or cancel their flights this week.

Flights to the US mainland are domestic flights - so there are no customs concerns at either end. The only other 'problem' the airlines cited was their inability to print government-mandated boarding passes at San Juan. Think about that for a moment.

One of the most important efforts in disaster relief is to get people out of the area that don't need to be there. FEMA should have chartered commercial airlines to evacuate people from Puerto Rico to the US *for free*. FEMA's annual budget is $14 billion - if they couldn't find the money, then people in the US would probably have donated enough to charter flights. Pointless when the airlines are unwilling to operate in an emergency without printing tickets, manifests and boarding passes. Instead, thousands of passengers got four nights of rest on the floor in an un-airconditioned, very humid airport. *Only* four days for the first ones lucky enough to be on the first flight out. Six days for others. Do you usually carry enough cash to feed you and your family for six days at an airport? How about six days of diapers for your infant child? Passengers waiting in the San Juan terminal were told NOTHING during that time except there were no flights out and they better wait at the terminal until one was available (or risk losing it).

FEMA could have sent military transports there to pick up people on Friday - they all have those web seats stowed away somewhere. Instead, the military ferried in cargo and left mostly empty*. Genius. Can't be cutting in to the airline's cash cow. Besides, how could the USAF protect itself from shoe-bombers?

*They really didn't leave empty. Government elite got a lift out, but the military didn't want the people sleeping on the floor of the airport to know that. You know - riots and all.

You'll notice the US has absolutely no problem evacuating several hundred of its diplomatic staff or State Department/military dependents out of anywhere at a moment's notice. The 'little people' of Puerto Rico? They had to wait until Jet Blue could print boarding passes. And until TSA could get their rubber gloves into their suitcases and all over their children. You know... child shoe bombers.

A quick search will reveal little reporting of the government/airline's arrogant and inexcusable behavior. A search will find plenty on the CEO 'heros' that said they would send bigger and more aircraft to Puerto Rico NOW. Gosh... Thanks, hero.

Posted by: PavewayIV | Sep 29 2017 19:34 utc | 83


What does colonialism has to do whether a pothole is properly and in a timely manner? Or, whether lion sculptures are out on a fountain that cannot be turned on because it throws water outside the fountain?

I don't think you understand colonialism. Do you think Puerto Ricans at any point have had the sovereignty to decide their economic present or future? Do you think Puerto Ricans had a say in Operation Bootstrap which exploited labor, extracted resources and capital, and created an environmental crises? That my friend is colonialism.

The way you are portraying Puerto Rico suggests that the revolving door between the government, the financial sector, and Wall Street is of no consequence.

The ELA sude, many are really independently but are cowards and will not actually vote for independence.
State condoned assassinations, persecutions, and a Stasi like intelligence apparatus tends to do that to people.

Posted by: Tobin Paz | Sep 29 2017 19:34 utc | 84

You are confusing recent law changes to attract outside investors with the locals.

Posted by: JaimeInTexas | Sep 29 2017 20:27 utc | 85

Likklemore @ 66 and 81:

You cannot support re-enacting Section 936 of the US federal tax code (that gave companies tax breaks if they set up factories in Puerto Rico) and at the same time protest corporate and individual use of Puerto Rico as a tax haven to minimise profits and exaggerate losses (to claim tax rebates) among other things. These are two sides of the same coin.

If companies rushed to Puerto Rico after 1976 to take advantage of Section 936, then somewhere else in the US those same companies closed down factories, workers suddenly were unemployed and their families (and perhaps also their communities) suffered from loss of incomes.

Posted by: Jen | Sep 29 2017 20:47 utc | 86

The descriptions of conditions and "constraints" by PavewayIV aren't lost on others in the region, like Cubans. As results go, I see little difference between New Orleans and Katrina with Puerto Rico and Maria--a living hell for survivors lasting for years.

Posted by: karlof1 | Sep 29 2017 20:55 utc | 87

Paging Likklemore again: Oops, sorry, I hadn't read the full Juan Cole article at Global Research before posting my comment @ 85. Does Professor Cole really support giving Puerto Rico tax haven status again? Does he realise that if Section 936 were re-enacted, that will not necessarily restore the island's pre-NAFTA prosperity?

PR could simply become just another low-wage maquiladora-style industrial zone for US companies. One way it could compete with Mexico and even some parts of the US is if prison labour were used in factories (but that would require PR to establish the same kind of prison-industry complex with state prisons and privately owned prisons competing on the basis of low labour costs for corporate factory largesse). Or PR could become a tax haven the way some Caribbean islands and Panama are tax havens.

Posted by: Jen | Sep 29 2017 21:00 utc | 88

Cholera could soon be a problem:

These factors – the presence of the V. cholerae bacterium, poverty, collapsed infrastructure and lack of potable water access – create a toxic mix that could promote cholera outbreaks in Puerto Rico during the coming days and weeks.

With Trump's fear of disease, the whole island could be quarantined and I hope he hasn't recently watched Outbreak.

Posted by: Ghostship | Sep 29 2017 21:02 utc | 89

Amazing that for all the years of its existence since its creation by presidential executive order in 1979, FEMA still doesn't have a national emergency plan and response set-up that would go straight into action even before a major hurricane hits a densely populated city or region.

Posted by: Jen | Sep 29 2017 21:07 utc | 90

There are so many damning facets to this situation. But I found some research done on comparing Puerto Rico's hurricane and Haiti's earthquake; both were life-threatening disasters. It seems it took the US 2 days to get 8000 troops into Haiti, but 8 days to get 4000 troops into Puerto Rico. Last I looked, both were islands "surrounded by water, all the way out in the ocean, lots of water, tremendous water, no roads there," according to Trump.

So what was the hold-up on aid? I guess it is better not to be an American citizen in an American territory.

Posted by: forgetful | Sep 29 2017 21:26 utc | 91

There are so many damning facets to this situation. But I found some research done on comparing Puerto Rico's hurricane and Haiti's earthquake; both were life-threatening disasters. It seems it took the US 2 days to get 8000 troops into Haiti, but 8 days to get 4000 troops into Puerto Rico. Last I looked, both were islands "surrounded by water, all the way out in the ocean, lots of water, tremendous water, no roads there," according to Trump.

So what was the hold-up on aid? I guess it is better not to be an American citizen in an American territory.

Posted by: forgetful | Sep 29 2017 21:26 utc | 92

A quick nreak... on the road for next 6 hrs.

Posted by: JaimeInTexas | Sep 29 2017 21:41 utc | 93

As far as I can understand it there is a bit of blackmail going on in that through Agent Orange in his "lets make some money outta this prez thing" stance, the federal government is holding off on infrastructure repairs especially to the power grid until the PR administration agrees to privatise it, something the population is completely opposed to so now they are gonna be blackmailed into it.

The sleazy undercurrent of supremacy is reflected in all posts which attempt to portray the PR administration of ineptitude and corruption while ignoring the bind that any PR functionary faces.
This is a colonial administration which means the final say on what happens is made in DC where the people of Puerto Rico have absolutely no power, what representatives they do have hold only 'advisory' positions they have no vote and if you don't have a vote in DC you are powerless because you cannot engage in the horsetrading that is required to persuade others to support your position.
For years various DC lobbyists have been leaning on the Hill to ensure that PR's utilities are underfunded and don't receive any assistance to upgrade so that left the local powerless government no choice but to deal with the enemy, Wall St who have been pushing and pushing loan schemes with associated penalties to ensure their colleague at the next desk over can float a scheme to buy up PR's utilities.

Just as Hawaii (which was only granted statehood after WW2 as a way for the MIC to retro claim amerika had been attacked by Japan and that threats abounded so throw money -NOW!)was held captive by a bunch of lobbyists fronting for "certain business interests" so has been the case with Puerto Rico and Guam (which lets face it many amerikans want to see nuked because that will kick off a really entertaining war and get rid of the slope moron who reckons he can stand up to "US", and after-all its not as if they're 'real' amerikans like you and me heheheh).

Without political power the citizens have no way of standing up to lobbyists corrupting decisions and it gets worse when statehood votes are held since every effort is made to muddy the waters pre vote. Any amerikan on the island is allowed to vote so all the imperial & corporate functionaries vote whichever their bosses tell them is mostly likely to confuse and preserve the status quo, whilst many of the PR population with family on or who work on, the mainland vote for statehood - meanwhile PR citizens who want to remain free of amerikan oppression are in a bind they don't want to continue to be powerless, but if they vote for statehood, they are agreeing to continued imperial occupation.
Pre vote DC finally releases a few bucks for PR which adds to the confusion - it isn't very often the plebiscite barely comes around once a generation so people get sucked in, meanwhile the parasites fund all sorts of weird and wonderful campaigns to maintain confusion.

This horror show is repeated across the Pacific and the degree of racism involved in the way amerikans relate to these occupied people cannot be overstated.
My close family member who has been a TV journo for many years (yep we argue a lot) got some of the best coverage of the post Rodney King trial LA riots right from the start because he was already in Los Angeles covering a story about 4 young Samoan chaps from 'amerikan' Samoa (yet another imperial travesty - it was meant to be a temporary protectorate approved by the UN until self governance was granted) who had been butchered in cold blood by LA Police.

None of this stuff penetrates the rah rah rah, mom and apple pie consciousness of the indoctrinated amerikans, but it certainly attracts the notice of the people of the Pacific. The oxymorons abound in a world where a huge antagonism towards amerika has been engendered by amerikans' brainwashed belief in their right to defend themselves no matter the cost to others. Nobody gave a flying fuck either way until that shit started - now enemies have been created everywhere and will continue to be created until amerika behaves like a responsible member of the global community and pulls back behind its continental borders.

Posted by: Debsisdead | Sep 29 2017 22:16 utc | 94

I suppose I really shouldn't be so negative all the time. Puerto Rican officials and FEMA only reported that a few dozen people died from Hurricane Maria, so there's that to be thankful for.

Or not...

María’s Death Toll in Puerto Rico Is Being Underreported

"...CPI sources in half a dozen hospitals said those bodies are piling up at the morgues of the 69 hospitals in Puerto Rico, of which 70% are not operating. The majority of the hospital morgues that provided information including the Medical Center in Bayamón and Santurce, Pavía Hospital in Santurce, the Manatí Medical Center, Dr. Pila in Ponce, the Río Piedras Medical Center, the Mayagüez Medical Center and the HIMA hospitals in Caguas and Bayamón, are at full capacity. Those hospitals are among the 18 that are partially operational.

Furthermore, this media outlet learned that the Institute of Forensic Sciences is also full of bodies and that allegedly 25 of those are hurricane victims. On Tuesday, the IFS informed that it had increased its storage capacity for bodies with a trailer that was obtained through The Morgue federal program.

It’s unclear what is happening with the deceased that are at the morgues of the 51 hospitals that have had to close their doors, with which it has been impossible to communicate.

Secretary Rodríguez-Mercado acknowledged that hospital morgues are full, including the one at the Medical Center in Mayagüez. He said the accumulated bodies cannot be removed from the morgues by funeral homes until the deaths can be certified by the Demographic Registry, who barely began operating from regional emergency centers on Monday..."

Well, at least the families of the deceased know where their loved ones are, right?

"...Public Safety Secretary Héctor Pesquera told the CPI that the names of the dead due to the hurricane will not be revealed, as the lack of communication has kept many people from knowing the whereabouts of their families..."

See, here's the problem with burying your deceased relatives that you don't know about (and can't find out from the government) in Puerto Rico:

"...Rodríguez-Mercado said Wednesday that on that same day, they would meet with specialized authorities from the U.S. Department of Health to discuss the protocols used to handle cadavers to prevent a budding public health problem. He said the current protocol for disposing bodies and vegetative material in emergency situations is managed by the Environmental Quality Board. But soon after, the president of that agency, Tania Vázquez, said in an interview that her agency only oversees the protocol related to disposing of animals, not human beings, but added that burying a dead person without a certification of the death is a crime. As of press time, the RRosselló’s press secretary had not responded to a petition to clear up who is responsible for the protocol for these emergency burials..."

So you can bury your dead pet or vegetative material with the Environmental Quality Board's approval, but not your great-aunt - and they probably haven't made it to her rural home to even find her yet. And the morgues are full anyway. Now the one 'resource' I know that FEMA has plenty of is refrigerated morgue trailers. They should be in Puerto Rico in a matter of, oh, let's say 'weeks'.

I know the situation is far worse than being reported in PR, and this is only going to get much worse for them as time goes on.

Posted by: PavewayIV | Sep 29 2017 22:19 utc | 95

@82 Paveway 4...

thanks for the additional info...

I absolutely agree that FEMA should have chartered some planes and got those people out of there...

Four to six days in a terminal for families who may have small children and elderly folks...that's just inhuman...

Also agree fully on the military airlifters...the big ones can accommodate a couple of hundred people...sure they are jumpseats, but so what...I'm sure everyone of those people, given the chance, would have jumped on it...

Another option, if there was an issue with the ATC equipment...the military or FAA would have been able to fly in a temporary ATC facility...FAA do this every year at the Oshkosh airshow...

Also worth noting is that the US military stands accused of airlifting ISIS commanders out of harm's way in Syria...but ordinary folks are lower on the totem pole I guess...

In any case I don't know what to think about the airlines' role in all of this...I would hope they would operate in a professional way and do what's required to get those people out of there in such an emergency...maybe I'm wrong...

Do you have any additional info on those charter flights you mentioned...?

Reason I ask is that if it was airliner sized airplanes and 'common carriage' ie paying public...they would have had to operate under Part 121 rules just like the airlines...

But if it was smaller planes with 30 pax or less...or an airliner size plane but for a private group [say a sports team...or Donald Trump's B757 for that matter]...those can operate under Part 125 which is less restrictive...

Not to put too fine a point on it, but if those charters you mentioned were airliner size and operating 'common carriage,' then there is really no excuse for the airlines...

I guess I really shouldn't be surprised...the bottom line always seems to be that the little guy is just expendable...use him/her for as much as you can squeeze out...and then discard...

Posted by: flankerbandit | Sep 29 2017 22:52 utc | 96

>>>> forgetful | Sep 29, 2017 5:26:29 PM | 91

It seems it took the US 2 days to get 8000 troops into Haiti, but 8 days to get 4000 troops into Puerto Rico.

Perhaps Washington were worried there might have been a revolution as a result of the ruling parties incompetence, corruption and election rigging all with the support of Washington. Can't have another Cuba even if it's what the Haitian people would most likely vote for.

Posted by: Ghostship | Sep 29 2017 23:13 utc | 97

>>>> forgetful | Sep 29, 2017 5:26:29 PM | 91

It seems it took the US 2 days to get 8000 troops into Haiti, but 8 days to get 4000 troops into Puerto Rico.

Perhaps Washington and its poodles were worried that there might be a revolution against the ruling party because of their incompetence, corruption and election rigging that has been wilfully supported by Washington by both Republicans and Democrats. Can't have another Cuba even if the people of Haiti would vote for it.

Posted by: Ghostship | Sep 29 2017 23:19 utc | 98


That look on Trump's face is absolutely priceless, if you know business:
"Wait, I thought I was here to finalize our $4B Trump Hotel & Casino Guangzhou deal?"

And the look on Xi's face, well, you don't even need to speak Mandarin:
"You threaten my country with sanctions, then murdering 25 million Koreans, gwailou?"

But that's OK because Trump and the GOP plans to eliminate the Alternative Minimum Tax and the Estate Tax, essentially giving the Nuevo Rich a Zero Tax Class, and a Perpetual Dynasty Royalty growth plan. The Nuevo Riche will still move their windfall offshore, and look for non-collapsing economies and tranquil tropical islands to retire on.

The Not-So-Nuevo Riche, secure at Mil.Gov with Pensions for Life, will be the Landlords, along with the Not-So-Nuevo Riche Asians, moving to the USA for a slum landlord career. At the bottom, Uber driving, Motel and Liquor Store operating, S Asians and Hispanics.
And in the middle, momentarily in the sunshine on the promenade deck, after centuries in steerage class, American minorities, enjoying the brief sun before the long, long night.

Posted by: Chipnik | Sep 30 2017 0:18 utc | 99

Meanwhile else where in the Caribbean according to that bastion of truthiness & the amerikan way Foreign Policy dot com, this totally weird shit is going down.

"The United States, puzzled by a spate of bizarre health incidents suffered by its diplomats in Cuba, on Friday ordered the bulk of its embassy staff and their families to go home until they have the answers. . . snip . . .About a year ago, U.S. government personnel in Cuba began complaining of unexplained health problems, including hearing loss, dizziness, tinnitus, visual complaints, and cognitive issues. Some reported hearing loud noises or vibrations, sometimes only in only specific parts of the rooms they were in, while others felt nothing before experiencing symptoms, according to the AP, which first broke the story.

On Thursday, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert spoke of the “incidents” — not “attacks” — in Havana, and said they were under review, including with investigations on the ground by the FBI.

On Friday, a senior State Department official said the “targeted attacks” affected 21 people, and at least some occurred in hotels. The last reported attacks occurred in late August. While no tourists have been targeted, the State Department isn’t taking any chances and is now warning all U.S. citizens to steer clear of the island.

“Because our personnel’s safety is at risk and we are unable to identify the source of the attacks, we believe that U.S. citizens may also be at risk and warn them not to travel to Cuba,” said a senior State Department official. . . snip . . .
Despite Trump’s hawkish stance on Cuba, his administration has not blamed the Cuban government for the attacks, further deepening the mystery of who is responsible. “We acknowledge the efforts the Cuban government has made to investigate and its cooperation in facilitating the U.S. investigation,” a State Department official said. Officials wouldn’t rule out a third country being responsible for the attacks.

Natch 2 will get ya 5 that it is those evil slavs of ssshh RUSSIA who are most likely to cop the blame.
Impossible to know who definitively but I strongly suspect after applying the old cui bene that the remaining latino fascist elements of the cia are likely behind it all.
On the other hand back in the 80's I was asked to take charge of a federal government office in a suburb of a large Australian metropolis - the manager was on long term sick leave. There were 30 staff in that office and 28 of them 'came down' with RSI (remember that - repetitive strain injury) including my predecessor. Now they weren't all whining parasites and we know that rsi isn't contagious so I always figured what happened was like the opposite of the placebo effect - never did find out but I bolted asap myself since it wasn't the happy 'team focused' workplace that I had been led to believe it was.

Even if most of the dipsomaniac diplomats dreamed up the condition something must have kicked it off 'n I still vote that alphabet agency as 'the group of arseholes most likely to pull such a stunt'.

Posted by: Debsisdead | Sep 30 2017 0:25 utc | 100

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