This week Puerto Rico experienced a series of devastating earthquakes, and the federal Department of Health and Human Services has declared a public health emergency. The already fragile infrastructure of the island, still recovering from the damage caused by Hurricane Maria, is once again experiencing incredible hardships. More than two-thirds of the island is without power, and Costa Sur, the largest power plant which generates more than a quarter of the power for the island, is inoperant and most likely will not be back up and running for at least a year. The earthquake epicenter was in the south of the island, and this is where people need the most help and support.
While an earthquake is a natural disaster, the current situation in Puerto Rico is also a product of more than a century of colonialism and exploitation imposed by the United States on the Puerto Rican people and their resources.
In 2016, Puerto Rico’s financial crisis resulted in a federally-appointed fiscal control board taking charge of the government budget and debt. The fiscal board immediately imposed severe austerity measures and raised taxes, which were already high, to restructure the island’s $123 billion debt. These austerity measures made living conditions much more difficult and dangerous, especially to those most vulnerable: women, elders, and people impacted by structural violence and struggling with poverty. Those already marginalized by stigma and criminalization have the least access to support.
In October, our harm reduction community will gather in San Juan, Puerto Rico, for the National Harm Reduction Conference. We share this message as a call to action to support the people of Puerto Rico. If you are able, consider joining our staff in donating to specific community-based organizations:
Coalición de Coaliciones would like donations to be made thru their PayPal (there is a donate button on their page).
Migrant Health Center would like to receive donations of materials and products. Below you will find a list of what they need and the contact information where folks can send it.
They would appreciate donations of the following articles:
- Personal hygiene
- Sleeping bags, cots, inflatable mattresses
- Towels and bedsheets
- Camping tents
- First aid materials
Migrant Health Center
Dirección: 324 Km 11.9 Bo Montalva 23, Guanica, Puerto Rico 00647
Contacto: Sra. Jeanette Alicea
For more information about the current situation, read this comprehensive article by Remezcla.