Donald Trump grew up in New York City during an era when hating on Puerto Ricans was a sport. “West Side Story,” told a sanitized part of that tale. It made no difference that there are Puerto Ricans of all shades and colors of skin — from ivory to ecru to mahogany to ebony—they were “not white.” They were “foreign,” “immigrants,” and unwanted by the cities’ bigots — themselves the children of earlier immigrant waves — like Trump’s family. Made no difference that they are American citizens. Made no difference that they were pushed here to work in factories for the war effort. Made no difference that they were fighting and dying bravely in that war. They spoke Spanish. They were called “Sp*cs.”
Decades have passed and now that boy occupies the White House. With malice and cruelty, he exhibits behavior towards Puerto Rico that is unacceptable.
The botched from the top U.S. government relief effort is killing people.
An elderly woman in Puerto Rico is helpless as her husband's body becomes a patchwork of ulcers and sores from Parkinson's disease. Another woman risks respiratory disease from a mold-infested bedroom and destroyed roof.
The snapshots come from American volunteers on the devastated island who are working with the American Federation of Teachers. The union has sent 40 nurses to Puerto Rico, where the natural disaster of Hurricane Maria and neglect from the Trump administration has created a perfect storm of death, disease and decay across an island of 3.4 million American citizens.
"This disaster is caused by neglect by the federal government," union president Randi Weingarten told Newsweek. "That's why this is such a tragedy. For President Trump to say they're safe is cruel and an abstention of responsibility."
Misty Richards, a registered nurse from Oregon who volunteered with the teachers union, worries there will be a slow increase in deaths, as people in rural communities lack medicine and nutrition.
Those with the money and resources to leave are able to head to the U.S. mainland, but not everyone is so fortunate. As well-off citizens leave the destruction behind, that leaves fewer people in the community to aid those who have nothing, creating a resource drain, Richards said.
“I wish I could say that I thought it wasn’t a socioeconomic caste system, but it absolutely is,” Richards told Newsweek. “These Puerto Ricans are being treated like they are disposable. It's been inhumane.”
Yes — it is a kind of caste system — though one based on skin color, language and social class. Trump’s response is rooted in everyday good ole American racism. He, and his Republican enablers, and those who vote for them are willing to stand-by or cheer from the sidelines at the sport of watching Puerto Ricans die. Sixty-nine Republicans voted against an aid package. Racism also affects the response to the U.S. Virgin Islands — where there is still no electricity on St John.
They all need to be booted out of office — starting at the top.
Illinois Congressman Luis Gutiérrez has called for an evacuation.
The nurses and doctors and volunteers on the island are doing the best they can in an untenable situation.
Here are the nurses when they were leaving to go to Puerto Rico, along with volunteers from other unions.
AFT nurses join union electricians, machinists and others on a plane headed down to Puerto Rico to help the island get back on it's feet again. #UnionStrong
Many sincere thanks to all those who have gone to Puerto Rico to help — and to all those who have donated
Support Puerto Rico.
Support USVI recovery
Link to list of ways you can help
Call your elected officials. Demand more aid for Puerto Rico and the USVI, and that the sick and infirm be evacuated.