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For its so that that’s been a pass that it’s been.
What about the reaction. The official reaction President Trump has been obviously so dismissive even denying death toll persistently denying the best of the best accounts of the death toll . What’s more , had it , how people in Puerto Rico take that as far as you can see .
It’s it’s a painful to know that that he would say that I mean he is our President and to not know the devastation to know that these deaths have happened that they’ve been proven to have happened that their studies from very we know universities to approve these studies so any debt that is not acknowledged it it’s painful and I think that for what I have seen in their response that I have seen people are very upset.
Well , let’s talk more about that. The policy and the actual political relationship between the mainland and Puerto Rico . And you know exactly what the policies are in this country , I want to bring in a Puerto Rico policy expert Charles Charles Bennett or Santiago is an associate professor of political science at the University of Connecticut and he joins us now . Welcome to the program .
Thank you. Think for having me .
I owe you know a lot of people talk about second class citizenship when we’re talking about this , this relationship between the territory of Puerto Rico , American citizens living there. Gibbs , tell us what the situation is politically . How do we define this and what are the the rights and responsibilities of people who live there .
Before I answer that question. Can I clarify a little bit about the numbers of migration the space .
Oh , sure.
Police and yeah , so , according to police at the and statistics and this has been documented in several ways : about 200,000 people left , right after Maria. It was in the first 4 months and by the first one months of the 2018 fiscal year 72,000 have returned . I mean this is based Bureau transportation service . So we have about 155,000 people for the calendar year 2017 that it do left because of Maria and they’ve been displaced 2-42 states without the United States Miley to Florida but also to the northeast but but returning to the citizenship question it , so it’s not really about a second class citizenship . But would the spring court in 19 oh 1 created something known as the separate and unequal , which basically says that Puerto Rico can be selectively treated as a foreign country when convenient that’s a state or something else in the court over time has affirmed the principle . It’s the status of the territory that determines what rights are accessible to any citizen whether they come from the mainland or the local area and eventually . That was the justification for imposing a series of very restrictive policies that basically say that if a US citizen travels to Puerto Rico . I live in Puerto Rico , he or she will have less civil rights and economic rights and political rights than any normal US citizen . So the foot the liberal interpretation has been on the 2nd class citizens a big Yemen is the status of political conspiracy on any sort of and reciting in the and unequal status a step , but an unequal status .
So that , so if you’re born in North Carolina. You have yours . There’s a certain set of rights . But if you then or find yourself in Puerto Rico for some reason you lose some of those if you are born in Puerto Rico and come to North Carolina you’re elevated in the sense .
You’re gay all the same rights as any nice US citizen born in the mainland.
And so what what what what what is lost by living in in Puerto Rico.
The right that by dissipate in federal elections , and the right to participate in the political process on the rank of civil rights , that’s it’s tricky but definitely right to trial by jury is not a constitutionally guaranteed way and then there economic benefits don’t apply to Puerto Rico for example if you , if I retire today and go to live in Ecuador Iraq I can apply for a supplemental social security and I have a minus Social Security income if I go to put got I can’t but I Lou okay so benefits I have more benefits if they live in. Gulu Iran or Iraq , then I would in Puerto Rico , based on my social welfare benefits like Social Security .
Well , let’s , let’s talk about what’s happening in terms of what’s happening on the ground now in Puerto Rico , one year out from Hurricane Maria what’s happening there. Charles .
So there , not much that Congress in different kinds of programs have a has approved upwards of $50 billion for reconstruction , which is not nearly enough. But they’ve been very slow in disbursing that amount of money $18 billion was allocated for housing open development in Puerto Rico 17.5 for energy restructuring and then a series of other smaller grants . The problem is , from the federal plan abuse that they can’t trust the Peruvian government to spend the money adequately you know they shouldn’t do that put it fiscal oversight or that sort of regulating the local economy is pushing finance 30 designed to a bit essentially private basic government services and channels much money into the private sector rather than the population . So right now 60% of the island is estimated to live in poverty and the reconstruction has been really slow . There are still places without electricity or running water . It wasn’t me . I don’t smoke . I mean it .
Yeah. And of course the problem private privatization is that you have a less transparency less government oversight and a far greater possibility of corruption . When you privatize public about public and social good . We’ve seen it over and over again . But but talk more about the these but benefits now that you say we’d lose to some extent living on the island . What about federal benefits when it comes to recovery benefits FEMA do they change when you’re in Puerto Rico .
So part of the problem is and this is a national problems , not necessarily a political when Hurricane Katrina and Sandy hit Congress developed something called the disaster housing assistance program so which created an interagency agreement between FEMA and herb and other agencies when Hurricane Maria heads the Republican Congress and president champ decided to other more restrictive approach in FEMA now managing all the financial resources and instead of giving , for example , housing assistance. They’re providing small business administration loans . So you know you go to a person who doesn’t have a roof in their whole or those who have a home and say , we’re not going to help you rebuild your home . We’re going to give you a loan so you can figure it out $34,000 loan . So you can build half so that in that sense , part of the challenges that from our federal disaster response response has been atrocious , you know this into all the problems that FEMA had in the island now because Puerto Rico‘s in unincorporated territory Congress only a coops block grants so individual smaller programs are limited in terms of funding , like Social Security food stamps snap problems etc so call can receive less federal benefits in the island again they were too , they could receive different kinds benefits elsewhere but not in unincorporated territory .
So statehood would obviously change some of that but statehood doesn’t look like a very likely possibility or is it and if it isn’t Charles what , what are the options for remedying this or are there.
So I I I use the case of Flint , Michigan. As an example , life stated doesn’t care anything the flames are still with their water poisoning situation but the the . There has been dead in the water for 50 years because politicians both Democrat and that would mean given the Senate 2 Senate seats to the Democrats and 5 represent the we are , we are pushing 5 seats and I can imagine . The Republican Party wanted to get 7 seats of the Democratic Party and now early thinks garments . The problem is that there is no support for independence and they and it’s has offer necessarily and an economic alternative , they talked about creating a Puerto Rico a situation similar to Ireland were put a good beat . So that the island at the Marcus in opened them Puerto Rican markets to the rest of the world , but there’s no electoral support . So right now part of the challenges . How do you work with the existing framework to yet more resources under the existing if framework Puerto Rico can be subject to discrimination . It would be treated like a state or it could be treated better than a state in terms of financially , hence the debate over the Marshall Plan for Puerto Rico Bernie Sanders has been spearheading .
Charlie. Well , I’m going to have to , I’m going to have to interrupt here because we’re out of time . But thank you so much for your contribution . Charles Charles Bennett Santiago is an associate professor of political science at the University of Connecticut Annabel Rosa is an attorney with the North Carolina-based law firm James Scott fair and she is also chair of the Durham mayors Hispanic-Latino Committee . Thank you for being on our program . Thank you . Coming up on the state of things live music . Actually we’re going to listen to some recorded music because it involves a lot of electronics and flute and you’ll hear all of that coming up on the state of things in just a moment please stay with us .
I am Jeremy Hobson the upcoming midterms will determine who.