Puerto Rico has been absolutely devastated

Not one, but two category five hurricanes in the space of a couple weeks, and now this.

Tens of thousands of people in northwestern Puerto Rico were ordered to evacuate Friday afternoon after floodwaters from Hurricane Maria damaged the Guajataca Dam, which the National Weather Service said is in "imminent" danger of failing.
The dam, built by the Army Corps of Engineers in 1929, suffered damage to its "structural integrity," Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said in a news conference Friday. An estimated 70,000 people in the municipalities of Quebradillas, Isabela and part of San Sebastien could be affected if the dam collapses, he said. A failure would likely send a massive amount of water from an inland lake along the Guajataca River, which flows north through coastal communities toward the ocean.

The destruction to Puerto Rico is difficult to imagine.

US President Donald Trump said the storm had "totally obliterated" the US territory, and pledged to visit Puerto Rico.
The island's Governor Ricardo Rossello described the hurricane as "the most devastating storm in a century" and said that Maria had hit the island's electricity grid so badly that it could take months to restore power.

Literally the entire island is without power, and will remain without power until probably the start of winter.
Much of the island has no clean running water. It's as if the island was thrust back two centuries in time.

Private and public infrastructure is just down. We are without power, without water service. No hospital has power service. Our streets are all - you just can't go through. When you go through and you have to literally take out the trees that are on the streets, it's worse hurricane ever.
...We have fuel, but we don't have the way to take the fuel to the hospitals.

Puerto Rico, and Puerto Rico's power company in particular were already in crisis before the hurricanes.

The reasons for Puerto Rico's financial insolvency are complicated, but essentially the local government defaulted on $72 billion in bonds beginning August 2015. It tried to update its bankruptcy code to gain some flexibility, but the U.S. Supreme Court ruled its plan to restructure its public utilities' debt violated federal law. So, after years looking for a solution to its woes, the commonwealth filed for bankruptcy protection in May 2017, the day after its creditors filed a lawsuit looking to collect on the debt. Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, one of its many agencies bogged down by debt load, itself filed for bankruptcy in July.
...
Fast forward four months to now, and Puerto Rico has to an electrical grid that's inoperable, homes that are destroyed, underfunded hospitals that are packed, and a tourism industry that just washed away.

Without power Puerto Rico's shaky economy will grind to a halt. The already unpayable debt will become more so.
On top of all that, there is a complication.

Complicating recovery efforts, Puerto Rico is under the oversight of a federally-appointed Financial Oversight and Management Board. It cannot issue new debt or change its budgetary allocations without approval.

All of this will contribute to a long-term trend that will damage Puerto Rico's future even more than hurricanes.

But over the next several months, “the combination of the financial crisis, the health-care crisis and now these two natural disasters, it’s a recipe for a lot of people to feel that they’re hopeless and they need to come to the [mainland] United States,” said Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-N.Y.), whose Brooklyn-area district has a significant Puerto Rican constituency. Velázquez, who is awaiting news about family members on the island, warned that if legislation addressing the economic problems isn’t coupled with federal hurricane relief, “we’re going to have an unprecedented number of people who will continue to leave the island.”
up
28 users have voted.

Comments

k9disc's picture

Got to give it to those Establishment fuckers. They sure to have a sense of twisted honesty in their acronyms.

up
13 users have voted.

“Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” ~ Sun Tzu

My first thought upon seeing some pictures and hearing just how bad it is. Jesus, those poor people.

up
15 users have voted.
Pluto's Republic's picture

…without factoring in its economy as a country in default. The Interest on their criminal-level debt is 785%! — owed largely to Wall Street hedge funds.

….shows that $33.5 billion of the island’s so-called debt is actually interest on capital appreciation bonds (CABs)—the municipal version of a payday loan. The Commonwealth borrowed $4.3 billion in principal and has to pay it back with 785 percent interest. Moreover, because of the way these deals are structured, most of the $33.5 billion is interest that hasn’t even accrued yet. It is future interest. In other words, this is not money that anyone actually lent to Puerto Rico. It is pure investor profit.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/puerto-rico-debt-crisis-may-deadline...


What do you think will happen to the island and its people?

up
19 users have voted.

@Pluto's Republic Nothing good.

up
10 users have voted.
Pluto's Republic's picture

@on the cusp

That sort of changes what it means to be an American.

up
15 users have voted.
TheOtherMaven's picture

@Pluto's Republic
What results do you think the next referendum will have? Being a measly "territory" hasn't done them one iota of good - will they opt for statehood, or independence? (I can't see them voting to remain dependents with all the disadvantages of citizenship and none of the advantages.)

up
7 users have voted.

There is no justice. There can be no peace.

@Pluto's Republic

They're Greecing the skids to take over the real estate... those overgrown hedge funds need to be clipped back to prevent them from taking over whole neighbourhoods like this.

up
4 users have voted.

Psychopathy is not a political position, whether labeled 'conservatism', 'centrism' or 'left'.

A tin labeled 'coffee' may be a can of worms or pathology identified by a lack of empathy/willingness to harm others to achieve personal desires.

Pluto's Republic's picture

@Ellen North

They're Greecing the skids

Either way, very clever.

Oh, and I agree about the real estate. Another fleecing is coming, I fear.

up
4 users have voted.

@Pluto's Republic

A new source of wool to pull over our eyes... baaaaaa-d psychopaths!

up
2 users have voted.

Psychopathy is not a political position, whether labeled 'conservatism', 'centrism' or 'left'.

A tin labeled 'coffee' may be a can of worms or pathology identified by a lack of empathy/willingness to harm others to achieve personal desires.

Pluto's Republic's picture

@Ellen North

I think "psychopolitics." It's an interesting topic. Hidden but timely.

up
3 users have voted.

@Pluto's Republic

I hope you'll produce an essay on this? We need to find a better approach to deal with getting and keeping psychopaths out of public office and to inform people sufficiently to, first, recognize and work toward eradicating pathology and propaganda in policy, the media and societal acceptance of these as 'political', rather than sick and destructive, viewpoints.

The vulnerable and suffering arouse empathy in humans, the urge to victimize in the psychopathic worldview, a sharp and easily identifiable difference...

up
2 users have voted.

Psychopathy is not a political position, whether labeled 'conservatism', 'centrism' or 'left'.

A tin labeled 'coffee' may be a can of worms or pathology identified by a lack of empathy/willingness to harm others to achieve personal desires.

earthling1's picture

that hedge funders will own the entire island outright?

up
9 users have voted.
Pluto's Republic's picture

@earthling1

The amount they are owed is debt not yet incurred or future earnings on interest (the loans cannot be prepaid). And then, because of corrupt oligarch tax laws in the US, they pay only a token of tax on that usury income.

I'm not sure if the US courts will default the island to the creditors. This country is so bound up in ridiculous Dead Men's laws (and constitution) that any decision du jour can be twisted out in some Supreme Court seance. In fact, a Dead Men's law helped put Puerto Rico in this predicament:

Puerto Rico also suffers from the effects of the Jones Act, an early 20th-century law that bars foreign-flagged ships from traveling from one U.S. port to another. Foreign-flagged ships must instead transfer their cargo to U.S.-flagged ships after arriving at the first U.S. port. With Puerto Rico often the second port of call, the law helps make consumer goods more expensive there than on the mainland.

Written on sacred parchment. Couldn't be updated.

up
16 users have voted.

but I wouldn't expect Wall Street to be forthcoming with much of it. Maybe the Catholic Church will chip in? I wonder how much of "Make America Great Again" applies to Puerto Rico.

Meanwhile, the US Department of Defense has just awarded Raytheon a 900-million dollar contract to propose a design for the next generation of nuclear bombers. And an equal amount has been allocated to General Dynamics, to see if they can come up with a better design proposal... may the best corporation win! Who says this country doesn't have enough fair competition?

up
12 users have voted.

native

snoopydawg's picture

@native

there are no limits when it comes to throwing money at defense companies and contractors. This is another expense that doesn't have to be budget neutral. Imagine if that money went to social programs instead.
The republicans insist that any money for certain things have to be budget neutral and in order to give tax reform for the rich and the corporations, they take money from our social programs which are already under funded.

up
9 users have voted.

good grief

snoopydawg's picture

tragedy. Not only in PR, but in Texas and Florida. As usual, rich people are going to be just fine because they probably had flood insurance and they have the resources to rebuild their homes.
The poor people are screwed. If their homes were destroyed, the insurance companies are going to fight them tooth and nail.
The ones who had rented their homes are being evicted by their landlords because they want to fix their rentals. One rental building gave people 4 days notice to pack their belongings and move out. If this is happening to other rentals, then finding a place is going to be difficult and cutthroat. If there aren't enough rentals for everyone, what will people do them? Move to another city or state? What if they don't have a car or the money for it?
Another problem is that many businesses were damaged or destroyed, so people aren't working.
We all know what happens after these types of disasters. The Shock Doctrine vultures sweep in and make their profits.
This is what happened to the poor people who lived in the 9th ward in New Orleans.
Meanwhile on the other side of the planet......

up
14 users have voted.

good grief

WoodsDweller's picture

but remember money is just imaginary. PR is a microcosm of what is coming for us all.
"The System" is a mighty oak, it is strong and shakes off adversity until it is overwhelmed and it snaps. It looks like PR has snapped.
They have taken a major hit, and don't have the infrastructure left it takes to rebuild infrastructure. Sure, if they had money they could buy what they need from outside. Without money there is effectively no "outside". How long until the money exists but there is no functioning "outside" to supply you?
The evacuation regarding the cracked dam? 95% of the cell towers are out. The roads are blocked. How to you contact people? It's a race against time to do it on foot, or to clear the roads.
They have fuel, but transferring fuel (by pipeline or even fuel pumps) requires electricity.
At some point the oak snaps and there is no going back. Houston will recover, sort of, but will never again be what it was. PR may have departed the 21st century for good, and maybe that's a good thing.

up
8 users have voted.

The lesser evil is still evil. Vote your conscience, not your fear.