Six months since Hurricane Maria battered the island of Puerto Rico, the island is the site of a pitched battle between wealthy investors—particularly from the technology industry—and everyday Puerto Ricans fighting for a place in their island's future.
By Adam Lynch
Marámellys Castro-Pérez is a Puerto Rican refugee living in Orlando with her husband and twins after the one-two punch of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Maria, in particular, scrubbed the island clean of electricity, working toilets and phone service. It dragged Castro-Pérez's world into the dark ages and pitted the island's modern, cosmopolitan populace against the once-tamed perils of hunger, biting insects and disease.
From Jan. 28 to Feb. 7 my wife and I were in Vieques, Puerto Rico, helping as best we could with recovery from Hurricane Maria, which hit on Sept. 20, 2017 almost five months ago. Help is very much still needed.
UPDATE: Since the release of NPR report and a flood of angry reactions from politicians, FEMA said it never intended to stop giving aid to Puerto Rico and will continue to hand out supplies for as long as necessary.
William Booher, an agency spokesman, told the New York Times that Wednesday was not the actual shut off date but rather an internal planning date to evaluate if the island could still justify needing assistance. Booher also told NPR that date "was mistakenly provided."
"This aid is not stopping," Booher told the Times. "There was no, and is no, current plan to stop providing these commodities, as long as there continues to be an identified need for them."
"The reality is that we just need to look around. Supermarkets are open, and things are going back to normal," Alejandro De La Campa, FEMA's director in Puerto Rico, told NPR. "If we're giving free water and food, that means that families are not going to supermarkets to buy."
By Chelsey Kivland and Anne Sosin
Around the world, the health care debate often revolves around access.
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the World Health Organization, recently announced, "All roads lead to universal health coverage." Discussions for how to translate this vision into a road map for action is central to the agenda of the WHO's executive board meeting this week in Geneva.
Puerto Rico Plans to Privatize PREPA as Critics Warn of 'Maximum Amount of Corruption and a Minimal Amount of Electricity'
Puerto Rico will take steps to privatize its troubled state-owned electric utility, officials announced Monday.
Governor Ricardo Rosselló said plans to sell the bankrupt Puerto Rican Power Authority, or PREPA, would move the island towards a "consumer-centered model" for power as well as help Puerto Rico attain its goal of 30 percent renewable energy.
Around half of Puerto Ricans—more than 1.5 million people—remain without power 100 days since Hurricane Maria hit the island, according to official figures released Friday.
In the first official figures released by the Puerto Rican government since the storm made landfall in September, officials reported that one of the island's 78 municipalities remains totally without power. Gov. Ricardo Rosselló had promised in October to restore 95 percent of power by December 15, while the Army Corps of Engineers estimated power would be totally restored by May.
While the electric vehicle industry and the wind and solar sector can breathe a little easier that the sweeping legislation preserves their tax credits, fossil fuel producers are likely cheering the opening of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil and gas drilling.
Puerto Rico's official death toll from Hurricane Maria is 64. That number, as many media organizations have reported, is suspiciously low. Recent reviews of mortality data from Puerto Rico's Center for Investigative Journalism and the New York Times estimate that the death toll is actually more than 1,000.
Following those reports, as well as earlier investigations from CNN, Vox and Buzzfeed, Gov. Ricardo A. Rosselló has ordered the island's Demographic Registry and Public Safety Department to scrutinize every death on the island since the devastating Sept. 4 storm.