Puerto Rico: A Call For Solidarity
If Congress doesn’t act soon, 1.4 million Puerto Ricans face deep cuts to the Nutrition Assistance Program (NAP), Puerto Rico’s version of SNAP. Read on to find out why and how you can help.
Millions of U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico have no representation in the Senate. With just one, non-voting delegate in the House of Representatives, Puerto Rico’s future has always been in the hands of members of Congress outside the territory — who represent the nearly half of Americans who don’t know Puerto Ricans are citizens to begin with. And right now, food aid and disaster relief for Puerto Ricans still reeling from the fallout of Hurricane Maria are on the line as part of negotiations to fund the government and avert another shutdown. 1.4 million Puerto Ricans risk deep cuts to food assistance if Congress doesn’t do anything by the end of March. The House of Representatives has included $600 million in Nutrition Assistance Program funding to get Puerto Rico through the year, but the Senate so far has not. Decisions are being made now. Senators need to hear from their constituents today.
For disaster preparedness, Puerto Ricans have always been in an impossible position: As a territory, Puerto Rico has less political power to get the resources it needs to be prepared. And when disaster does strike, as it did in the case of Hurricane Maria, Puerto Ricans cannot recover as quickly from catastrophe as states with full federal representation. With the terrible hit of natural disaster exacerbated by climate change, along with the burdens of already existing public debt and limited government assistance, it is unlikely that Puerto Rico will fully recover anytime soon.
Unbelievably, Puerto Ricans are now in an even more impossible position: They’ve become victims of one of dozens of President Trump’s pet feuds. We know the President tried to illegally withhold disaster relief money from Puerto Rico, by directing funds away from Puerto Rico disaster relief to Texas and Florida. He has also publicly opposed this modest increase of funds to prevent Puerto Ricans from losing some or all of their food aid. Clearly, the President thought magnanimously tossing a few paper towels at Puerto Ricans was enough to call it a day.
It’s time for the human needs community to step up for Puerto Rico. In the face of ever more complex challenges to basic human needs, the strength of the human needs community lies in solidarity. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the case of Puerto Rico. Puerto Ricans are citizens. More than four in ten Puerto Ricans are poor; nearly 6 in 10 of Puerto Rico’s children are living in poverty. All of us in the human needs community and all those with full representation in the Senate need to lend their voices in support of Puerto Rico.
This week, the Coalition on Human Needs has been actively reaching out to organizations and individuals, both online and by phone, calling on folks around the country to tell their Senators that the crisis in Puerto Rico will not be forgotten. Every Senator has an ethical duty to insist on the fair treatment for Puerto Ricans this President refuses to grant on his own.
Join CHN and call your Senators today. Tell them: YES to funding for Puerto Rico’s nutrition and other disaster assistance. Call the Capitol switchboard: 202-224-3121
“I’m a constituent. I strongly urge Senator ___ to demand full-year funding for government without anti-immigrant restrictions and wasteful walls. Please insist on urgently needed nutrition and other disaster aid for Puerto Rico.”