Opinion: Puerto Rico’s rights, ongoing storm recovery deserve our attention, Canton resident says
Friday, July 6, 2018 - 7:10 am

To the Editor:

I was disappointed to see that the Watertown Daily Time’s May 1 letter “Puerto Rican workers protest U.S. plan to slash pensions” omits some key points that need to be in discussion about Puerto Rico.

When discussing Puerto Rico, there are two details that stand out as crucial players in the discussion about the high poverty rates, and unemployment in Puerto Rico. Additionally, the $74 billion dollars of debt they have to contend with, which may be driving force behind their passionate protests of pension slashing.

Firstly, it is Puerto Rico’s rights as an American territory, a fact many are not aware of, that prevents them from receiving the same support from the Federal government, that heavily influences why they are struggling with debt, high poverty, and unemployment. Puerto Rico in general deserves more attention from the U.S. government. Which is highlighted in the response they received, and continue to receive, after Hurricane Maria.

The response from FEMA after Hurricane Maria in comparison to the response in Houston, Texas’s is vastly different. For example, the blue roof response was significantly lacking and slow. What could have been a few-week ordeal, turned into months, and is still an issue in Puerto Rico currently. It took seven months in some cases for power to be restored to parts of the island, and many lacked both power and water.

The people of Puerto Rico deserve a faster disaster response from FEMA, as do any of the American territories. Finally, their status as a territory deserves further consideration. Puerto Rico deserves our attention, a more effective response especially after such a massive disaster, and they deserve a say in their status.

Claire Bartlett