The ugliest side of the Trump administration has nothing to do with Russia or sexual misconduct, nor does it necessarily have to do with conservative politics in general, but it is one of the very real side effects of Trump’s brand of right-wing populism. Nearly two years ago, Hurricane Maria left massive devastation in Puerto Rico, costing the lives of 3,057 American citizens. Yet, this very real travesty goes completely ignored by the average Trump supporter who eagerly swallows the latest Fox News conspiracy involving the deep state.
There’s a reason a disaster of this magnitude hasn’t made much of a ripple in the news – the administration is trying to quietly sweep it under the rug, giving the commonwealth a negligible amount of resources while brazenly attacking its Democratic Governor Ricardo Rossello for the aftermath. That’s yet another lie, as the Federal Emergency Management Agency has direct control over the funds. It’s also a far more consequential lie than when, say, Donald Trump brags about being considered for TIME’s Person of the Year.
The Puerto Rican government has made a list of 4,792 projects that need major repairs – an estimated cost of $371 million. FEMA has only paid out $35 million as of now, and only 67 of these projects are being worked on. By comparison, there were 9,000 projects underway in the two years following Hurricane Katrina, the disaster that permanently tarnished President Bush’s legacy. Many comparisons have been made between the two disasters, but because Katrina occurred in New Orleans, it received frequent media attention – drying up the president’s support throughout the gulf states.
As Puerto Rico is an island and has no electoral votes in a presidential election, it’s largely out of sight and mind for Donald Trump and his ignorant base, many of whom don’t even realize its residents are U.S. citizens. Things aren’t likely to get better for the commonwealth anytime soon, as Trump’s FEMA director recently resigned amid scandal. It’s time to call this disaster what it is – an act of genocide, which Donald Trump is actively allowing because he has to rationalize that the people living there somehow brought it on themselves.
James Sullivan is the assistant editor of Brain World Magazine and an advocate of science-based policy making