It’s been two months since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, but the island is still in desperate need of help, and money, to recover. Puerto Rican star Lin-Manuel Miranda and his parents joined thousands of demonstrators on Sunday for a Unity March for Puerto Rico that began at the U.S. Capitol and culminated at the Lincoln Memorial.
More than half the island is still without power, and about 10% of its inhabitants don’t have access to running water. Last week, the White House asked Congress for $44 billion in disaster aid for Texas, Puerto Rico and Florida but many lawmakers say that number is too small.
— Hispanic Federation (@HispanicFed) November 19, 2017
With Puerto Rican flags waiving and chants of “wepa” in the air, marchers reminded the country that Puerto Rico is still in dire straights and protested the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, a.k.a. the Jones Act, which mandates that shipments to the island be made on American ships only. Any foreign ships would have to pay tariffs, fees, and taxes which would then be shouldered by the people of Puerto Rico. While President Trump temporarily waived the act to help with hurricane relief, demonstrators are asking for a permanent repeal.
— Estuardo Rodriguez (@EstuardoDC) November 19, 2017
Attendee Rep. Luis Gutierrez of Illinois was on hand with pleas for help, calling the lack of assistance for Puerto Rico “one of the gravest injustices that I have seen” and harsh words for Trump.
Of the President’s four student deferments from serving in the Vietnam War, Gutierrez said, "We have a president of the United States who on four occasion ... said, 'My foot hurts, I cannot serve.' But he was able to take those feet to every golf course all over the world and walk on them."
He continued, “Well, let me just say to the president of the United States each and every time an airplane showed up in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, you filled it with Puerto Ricans and they said 'Presente!'"
@RepGutierrez speaking: "The United States is my birthplace. I love this country. And I want a relationship between this country and Puerto Rico where we are equals." #power4puertorico @UNITYMARCHFORPR pic.twitter.com/2vCbKGUag6
— Rachel H. George (@Racheerio2) November 19, 2017
Indeed the crowd participated in a call and response chant of “Puerto Rico, Presente”— proving Puerto Rico. Is. Here!