Donald Trump and FEMA just dealt a devastating blow to the people of Puerto Rico who have been suffering under impossible conditions for months in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.
FEMA officials acting on behalf of the Trump Administration just held up a billion dollar loan meant to help mitigate the catastrophic damage done to the island’s infrastructure and human services, many of which still haven’t returned in the months since the storm.
FEMA officials explained that it’s because Puerto Rico is not facing the cash shortage predicted shortly after the storm. Because FEMA assessed Puerto Rico’s cash surplus at $7 billion, the agency decided the additional aid money was unwarranted.
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Three months after the storm, nearly half of Puerto Ricans were still without power.
The officials took this opportunity to announce their intention to revamp the requirements and administration of the Community Disaster Loan Program. Only once Puerto Rico’s cash reserves hit a certain level of need will the loan be disbursed.
They also are considering making each of the island’s 78 individual municipalities apply separately for aid.
Puerto Rico’s water and sewer companies expect to run out of cash by the end of the month; the storm cost about $95 billion in damage. Now, the local government is enacting a plan to lend money to finance the public utility companies to keep them up and running. But the local government really isn’t in any position to do this.
The island faced a serious debt crisis before the storm -$73 billion in public debt. Before the storm, experts estimated the country would need to cancel 50-80% of its debt in order to remain solvent.
The Trump Administration’s despicable move only further exacerbates the crisis in Puerto Rico, forcing Americans to suffer even longer without any support from their government.