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Mon Jun 4, 2018, 10:25 AM

13. The Shame in Puerto Rico - By The NYT Editorial Board

From the NYT https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/03/opinion/puerto-rico-hurricane-deaths.html

It is eight months now since Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico, leveling 70,000 homes and leaving 3.3 million people without power or water and the health care system in tatters. By any measure, the catastrophe was on a level with Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, two other storms that devastated large regions of America. But the response, as demonstrated most recently by a report that estimates the death toll as more than 70 times larger than the official one, has been slow and inadequate.

There are various reasons for that, including Puerto Rico’s distance from the United States mainland and local mismanagement, the latter exemplified by an infamous repair contract inexplicably granted soon after the hurricane to a Montana firm with two employees. The bankruptcy of the island has made federal legislators wary of how relief funds are disbursed. But the chief reason has been the perception in Washington, and especially in the White House, of Puerto Rico as a second-class United States territory where poverty, hardship and shoddy government are accepted as the norm.

That was memorably underscored by President Trump in the aftermath of the hurricane, first in his callous tweets assailing the mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulín Cruz — “they want everything to be done for them” — and then on his visit to the island, where he said Puerto Ricans should be “very proud” that only 16 people had died, unlike the toll in a “real catastrophe” like Katrina, which took 1,833 lives. The official Puerto Rican toll now stands at 64, which nobody has ever believed.

That absurd figure, and that condescension, are what make the study by independent researchers from Harvard and other institutions, published Tuesday in The New England Journal of Medicine, so needed. After surveying random households across the island and comparing mortality rates they encountered to those before Maria, they came up with an estimated 4,645 additional deaths through the end of the year — a third of them people who died for lack of medical

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