Puerto Rico in the grip of Hurricane Fiona, Pierluisi and Luma

Catano, Puerto Rico

On Sunday, Sept. 18, just as the country remembered the fifth anniversary of the devastation of Hurricane Maria, another hurricane, Fiona, devastated the island. But these phenomena have no comparison. Maria was a category 5 storm while Fiona only reached category 1. 

What Fiona has exposed to those who did not want to see it is the complete incompetence and indifference of the colonial government in defending the interests of the people. 

Although the United States continues to have Puerto Rico as a colony, imposing a Fiscal Control Board that has destroyed and impoverished the people, taking away resources from its essential services to give them to vulture bondholders in a collection process for an illegitimate debt, the contempt of Gov. Pedro Pierluisi’s government for its people is also true. 

Fiona has devastated a large part of the nation due to the enormous amount of rain with consequent floods that have caused the collapse of structures, and countless misfortunes, including the death of more than 20 people. In addition, most of the country, almost two weeks after the phenomenon, still has no power, including hospitals and health care centers.

And the fault lies with the irresponsible inaction of the government in keeping the infrastructure of our archipelago in good condition, thus propelling reservoirs and rivers to easily exceed their limits and endanger the structures and the lives of surrounding residents. 

In addition, the government, obeying the Fiscal Control Board, has imposed privatizations that have plunged the people into conditions of great suffering, such as the privatization of energy under the U.S.-Canadian company Luma Energy, which has proven that it has neither the knowledge nor the experience nor a sufficient labor force to deal with the electrical infrastructure of the country. Thanks to Luma’s ineptitude, half of the country remains without enough electricity to carry out its essential tasks.

For this reason, in all parts of Puerto Rico, despite the lack of electricity, water, and often communications, communities are demonstrating against the government and the privatized company. And massive protests are already being planned for early October.

And as the people say, LuMafia out! Pierluisi out!

This is Berta Joubert-Ceci from Puerto Rico reporting for Radio Clarín of Colombia.

Translated by Melinda Butterfield

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