|Type of paper:||Essay|
|Categories:||Politics Government Caribbean Disaster|
The political status of Puerto Rico stems from the difference between the Island's political nature and that of both sovereign nations and the States of U.S. it is referred to as be unincorporated territory of the U.S making the Island neither a U.S State nor a Sovereign nation (Caban, 2017). The Island thus lacks certain rights as a polity because of the ambiguity in its territorial nature. Puerto Rico, unlike sovereign nations, enjoys lower tax payments as only some of its residents are subject to federal income tax. The current status of the Island is a result of several political activities carried out by the government of the United States. It remains subject to the Territorial Clause of the United States Constitution, but not part of the U.S. within the Constitution's Revenue Clause (Pantojas-Garcia, 2013). Internationally, various organizations have called on the United States government to speed up the process to enable self-determination of the Island while considering the Island, a Caribbean nation that has its own national identity. For instance, the UN Special Committee on Decolonization has told U.S to allow the people of Puerto Rican to make decisions in a sovereign manner and address their urgent social and economic needs, which include poverty, unemployment, marginalization, and insolvency. In June 2017, a referendum was held, and the voters have the option of free independence, statehood, or the current territorial status. About 97 percent preferred statehood, whereas turnout was only 23 percent because pro-commonwealth and pro-independence supporters boycotted (Goltz, 2020). The paper examines the role played by the Island's political Status on the receipt of disaster relief needed since the occurrence of Hurricane Maria and the recent Earthquake.
The political status has some effects on the size and how aid is provided as of recent disaster aid crisis was experienced in the process of passing relief bills by legislation in the United States. The bills attracted some opposition because of the territorial nature of Puerto Rico and the United States. Reluctance is seen in the passing of the earthquake bill, which has forced residents of the Island are forced to live in tents for more than a month after the January 7 earthquake (Goltz, 2020). The earthquake causes a devastating effect on the Island as it was on the process of recovering from the damages of Hurricane Maria of 2017. The recovery efforts have been very slow, which frustrates many. In an attempt to speed things up, an emergency bill was passed on February by the House of Representatives, but the Senate does not seem to take up the bill.
More so, the political status of the Island causes significant recovery delays in the long term. Homes that crumbled will remain in the same state that is piles of debris, and Puerto Rico citizens are forced to live under tents with fewer resources and limited access to health care (Goltz, 2020). The situation is now untenable, as the initial hope was the passing of the House bill as a grant from the federal government. The bill now appears the aid is not being initiated as soon as expected as Puerto Rico do not have any say in the national policy because they are not classified as residents of the United States; thus, they find themselves with minimal resources.
The bill has stalled in the Senate because it is considered to be a hefty financial promise. It allocated disaster recovery 4.7 billion dollars, 3.26 billion dollars to community development, 1.25 billion dollars to infrastructure restoration, 100 million dollars to restart operations of schools, 40 million dollars to nutrition assistance, and 20 million dollars to energy needs, and a tax break (Goltz, 2020). Senate are reluctant to pass the bill because the figures above are significant and yet 1.5 billion dollars only out of 20 billion dollars have not been paid as an aid to Hurricane Maria destruction (Goltz, 2020)
The current President of the United States has been very hostile on sending money federal money to Puerto Rico, and the Republican Senators have the same reservations given the objections by the administration. The complaints are based on the financial control inadequacy over regular government operations and many cases of corruption in the Island (Naor & Laor, 2020). While United States Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico each elect their delegates to Congress, Puerto Rico does not have voting rights in the House; hence, it is hard for quick action to be taken in case of such devastating natural calamities.
The spending and allocation of emergency funds or other aid to Puerto Rico was politically fraught, especially during the current administration in the United States, even as Puerto Rico has made a lot of effort to recover from some historical catastrophic Hurricanes that happened in 2017 and 2018 and the earthquake that occurred on January this year (Naor & Laor, 2020). President United States clashed personally with Puerto Rico's leadership, and that made him object to sending of relief aid to the island even if it has secured the support of Congress. Most of the federal assistance about 85 percent from FEMA, which is a public assistance program distributed in 2017 to assist the recovery process, was channeled to power restoration and debris removal (Naor & Laor, 2020).
In conclusion, the political status has indeed affected aid from the federal government to the Puerto Rico government to assist in disaster recovery. This is caused by the fact that the delegates of the Island do not have voting rights in the House of Representatives and unincorporated territory of the Island into the United States. The Senate has delayed passing an emergency aid bill which was passed in February by Congress stating hefty financial assistance and clashes between the U.S. administration and the Puerto Rico government over funds mismanagement and rampant cases of corruption. A referendum was held. There is an agent need for the government of Puerto Rico to develop viable plans for quick recovery and to assist its citizens who are suffering in tent shelters.
Caban, P. (2017). Maria will Fundamentally Change US Policy Toward Puerto Rico. Retrieved from https://scholarsarchive.library.albany.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1031&context=lacs_fac_scholar
Goltz, J. W. (2020). Applying the Public Affairs Triumvirate Internationally: Transformation of Policing in Puerto Rico. In Higher Education Leadership Strategy in the Public Affairs Triumvirate (pp. 115-137). Palgrave Pivot, Cham. Retrieved from https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-030-38058-8_5
Naor, M., & Laor, E. (2020). Disaster recovery after Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico: Assessment using Endsley's three-level model of situational awareness. Journal of Business Continuity & Emergency Planning, 13(3), 278-288. Retrieved from https://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/hsp/jbcep/2020/00000013/00000003/art00009
Pantojas-Garcia, E. (2013). The Puerto Rico status question: can the stalemate be broken? Caribbean Journal of International Relations and Diplomacy, 1(2). Retrieved from https://journals.sta.uwi.edu/ojs/index.php/iir/article/view/376
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