President Donald Trump has never spoken genuinely about Puerto Rico — especially when it comes to money. Last year, just a couple of days after the anniversary of Hurricane Maria, Trump tweeted, “The people of Puerto Rico are wonderful but the inept politicians are trying to use the massive and ridiculously high amounts of hurricane/disaster funding to pay off other obligations. The U.S. will NOT bail out long outstanding & unpaid obligations with hurricane relief money!” Long story short: He doesn’t want to give the people of Puerto Rico federal funds, and now the repercussions are tangible.
According to The Washington Post, Puerto Rico is amid a food stamp shortage and it’s affecting people on many levels. The article reports that “43 percent of Puerto Rico’s residents are grappling with a sudden cut to a benefit they rely on for groceries and other essentials.” If you’re wondering what 43 percent looks like, it’s in the realm of millions.
Post reporter, Jeff Stein tweeted: “Crisis sets in 4 Puerto Ricans after food stamp cuts hit 1.3 million; HIV patients forced to sit for hours in own filth bc diapers too expensive; Mothers cutting back on produce, meat for kids; Elderly expecting to go hungry.”
The report attributes the shortage of money and resources to the pushback from the Trump Administration. The article states that the president has only approved federal funds for the island’s electricity grid and has rejected giving other funds to other needs including food stamps.
“Trump has also privately signaled he will not approve any additional help for Puerto Rico beyond the food-stamp money, setting up a congressional showdown with Democrats who have pushed for more expansive help for the island,” the report states.
Republican Sen. Marco Rubio said Congress must secure funds to Puerto Rico by approving a bill for federal aid. This morning he tweeted, “Long term economic growth & jobs is the answer for #PuertoRico. But allowing fellow Americans to go hungry in the meantime is wrong. We in Congress must address this immediately. We must pass a disaster relief bill this week.”
Puerto Ricans are making do with what they have by eating less, buying less, which will have a heartbreaking effect down the line. It’s not just about food but much-needed supplies.
Clinic administrator Myrna Izquierdo, who works at a non-profit, told the Post that without funds they could not support their patients. Some of their adult patients will have to remain in a dirty diaper because they cannot afford to change them that often.
“We just don’t have the money right now,” Izquierdo told the Post, “It’s very hard. It is so unfair. That cut is going to kill us.”