It’s been five months since Hurricane Maria pummeled through Puerto Rico. Help has been slow and stocked with scandal. Currently, hundreds of thousands of people remain without electricity, while others continue to be desperate for food, water and medicine. Little on the island has dramatically changed since the storm struck, except the perspective of one of its most prominent leaders: San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz.
In an interview with Democracy Now!, Yulín Cruz, a member of the Popular Democratic Party, which advocates for maintaining Puerto Rico’s current colonial political status, called for the island’s decolonization.
“This is the time now to look at the relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States and ensure that Puerto Rico stop being a colony of the United States once and for all,” Yulín Cruz, the mayor who has been most vocal in her criticism of President Donald Trump and Washington’s recovery efforts, said.
Her change in outlook was sparked by the United States’ substandard response to the crises in Puerto Rico — FEMA, in particular.
“Most of the American people probably think that out of that $4.9 billion that was approved between November and December, that we’ve gotten some of that money. We’ve gotten zero. Just because you throw millions of dollars at something, it doesn’t mean that you’re fixing the problem. It doesn’t mean that you’re fixing what is wrong,” Yulín Cruz said.
While the mayor believes Puerto Rico’s colonial status has stalled real and necessary assistance from Washington, she also doesn’t believe being a U.S. state would have answered the island’s needs.
“Some people, you know, say, ‘Well, if Puerto Rico was a state, this wouldn’t happen.’ Well, I have one word for you: Katrina;” she said. “You know, when people don’t put their heart and soul into what they are doing, things go wrong. When they don’t see the magnitude of the suffering of the people and just look at it from 10,000 feet above or a thousand feet above in a helicopter, things go wrong.”
For the mayor, the crisis in Puerto Rico is a human issue, and politics, fortified by the island nation’s colonial status, is only creating more damage.
“It is a humanitarian crisis. It wasn’t handled properly. And that mishandling of it has led to many other things,” she says.
Catch the entire interview over at Democracy Now!.