The United Nations has slammed the U.S. response to Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria. Only 20% of Puerto Ricans currently have power.
“The hurricane has aggravated the island's existing dire situation caused by debt and austerity measures,” the experts said in a news release issued by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), calling conditions “alarming” for the 3.5 million residents in the US territory. “Thousands of people are displaced, with homes destroyed, and without any relief in sight. More than 80 per cent of the population, or close to 2.8 million people, continue to live without electricity. Few hospitals are functioning. There are allegations that the water available ¬–for those who have access to it – may be contaminated,” the experts elaborated.
Prior to the Hurricane, Puerto Rico was already in poor shape due to austerity measures.
The Independent Expert on foreign debt and human rights, Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky, said that “even before Hurricane Maria struck, Puerto Rico's human rights were being massively undermined by the economic and financial crisis and austerity policies, affecting the rights to health, food, education, housing, water and social security.” The experts maintained that even before the hurricane struck, nearly half of Puerto Rico's population were living below the poverty line.
The United Nations has officially made note of the discrepancy in treatment between how Texas and Florida are being treated following their Hurricanes and how Puerto Rico is being treated.
“We can't fail to note the dissimilar urgency and priority given to the emergency response in Puerto Rico, compared to the US states affected by hurricanes in recent months,” pointed out Leilani Farha, Special Rapporteur on the right to housing.