With just over two weeks passing since the devastating Hurricane Maria, relations between Puerto Rico and the U.S. have become strained due to conflicting viewpoints on relief efforts. President Trump has reassured the public that the relief effort is a continuing success, however, San Juan Mayor Carmen Cruz has requested more federal relief as there is still no power and minimal food and drinking water. FEMA administrator Brock Long, explained that much of the relief effort has in fact been working but is being overshadowed by the commotion created through the growing dispute between President Trump and Mayor Cruz. Tensions continue to rise following Trump’s criticism of Puerto Rico’s poor infrastructure. Statehood has been discussed as a solution to Puerto Rico’s struggling economy and colonial predicament since 1998, however there have been four unsuccessful referendums and it is widely believed that the fifth from June of 2017 has a small chance of passing through Congress.
Comparisons between relief efforts for Texas and Florida and those for Puerto Rico highlight major disparities in relief efforts. The outdated Jones Act, which essentially doubles the cost of shipping from mainland to Puerto Rico, spikes prices of goods, and requires all ships between U.S. ports to be built, owned, and operated by Americans, has played a major role in disaster relief over the past month of major hurricanes. For both Texas and Florida, the Jones Act was lifted prior to the landfall of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. On the contrary, the Trump administration persisted to decline the waiving of the law that would facilitate a more efficient and essential method of providing aid to Puerto Rico, by allowing international ships carrying U.S. supplies to dock in the ports of Puerto Rico. On September 28th, 2017, eight days after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rica, Trump unexpectedly lifted the Jones Act for Puerto Rico after receiving great criticism.
In terms of media coverage, Florida and Texas received four times more coverage than Puerto Rico. On a daily basis, two thousand sentences were said in reference to the conditions and methods for recovery of Florida and Texas, while only five hundred sentences discussed the well-being of Puerto Rico. Out of the major cable networks, such as NBC, CNN, MSNBC, and FOX, only NBC sent their main anchor, Lester Holt, to Puerto Rico. The National Association of Hispanic Journalists took a stand and through Twitter called out national and local media sources to cover the devastation in Puerto Rico, the same as they would if it were anywhere else in the U.S.