On the one year anniversary of Hurricane Maria, Amnesty International is urging accountability from the Trump Administration for its negligence in preparing and responding to Hurricane Maria, with visuals projected onto the Trump Hotel in Washington DC, as well as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Amnesty International’s new Secretary General, Kumi Naidoo, who is in Puerto Rico to draw attention to pressing human rights concerns that persist since the hurricane and to show solidarity with human rights activists and survivors, stated:
“A year after Hurricane Maria devastated the island, President Trump has shown his contempt for the people of Puerto Rico time and again by denying the damage that was done, insulting the victims and lying about the staggeringly high death toll.”
To mark the first anniversary of Hurricane Maria, Amnesty International has published a feature based on field research in Puerto Rico, including interviews with community leaders and people whose homes were left severely damaged by the hurricane.
Maria, the strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in nearly a century, made landfall on 20 September 2017, compounding the destruction caused by Hurricane Irma weeks earlier. On August 28, 2018, Puerto Rico’s Governor revised the official death count from 64 to 2,975. President Trump has repeatedly denied the numbers, but several other studies have estimated the death count to be even higher.
A year after Hurricane Maria, tens of thousands of people in Puerto Rico are still living under blue tarps, designed as temporary roofs. Following a federal court decision on August 30, Puerto Ricans temporarily relocated to mainland USA lost housing support from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Last week, Amnesty International called for the US federal authorities to launch an independent investigation into the authorities’ response to Hurricane Maria, amid new revelations of a massive stockpile of drinking water left for months on the runway of the airport in Ceiba, when it could have been distributed to those ravaged by the hurricane.
More than 44% of Puerto Rico’s population lives in poverty, compared to the national US average of approximately 12%.