Friday, September 29, 2017

The Puerto Rico Thing: Trump's Katrina

History doesn't repeat itself, but it often rhymes. -- attributed to Mark Twain
 We'll have to wait till the veil lifts to learn what has transpired in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean islands devastated by the two hurricanes that have passed through so far this year, but a week in to the aftermath it doesn't look good.

Much talk these days that Puerto Rico's lack of relief is the rhyming equivalent of Bush's Katrina.

Yet from the White House -- once they realized there was a problem down there -- we've heard little but happy talk and boasting.

Outside of San Juan, and in parts of San Juan itself, there's been little or in many cases no relief at all. People have no potable water, no food, no electricity, no functioning plumbing, they may have no roofs over their heads, and they have little or no communications with the outside world. They're on their own to manage as best they can -- or to die.

"Help is on the way." But.... It's already been too long, and "help" is either stalled at the San Juan docks, or has only now been deployed to the islands, and won't reach the people for another week or more. Likely more.

The military has apparently taken control of relief efforts, and I saw a report yesterday that an aircraft carrier the USSKearsarge has been sitting off shore since the day after the storm and has been ferrying supplies by helicopter ever since. If true, good. I guess.

Well, what happens to those supplies is something of a mystery, no? Are they pre-positioning for the coming relief-occupation? That's my guess.

Supposedly, 7000 troops have been or will be deployed, along with some 3000 contractors. Their objective, however, remains murky.

Trump has essentially blamed Puerto Rico for its plight, a belief echoed by FEMA, DHS, and other spox, who claim that Puerto Rico didn't "prepare" and there is little local coordination of relief efforts.

The issue is complicated by the fierce austerity regime imposed on the island by the Wall Street vultures who insist on being paid in blood and flesh or money for Puerto Rico's $72 billion debt. Cf: Greece.

Well before the latest hurricanes, the island's infrastructure, never robust, was allowed to deteriorate to the point where much of it simply collapsed. Because there was so little public or private sector money available -- thanks to the extractions of the vultures -- little or nothing could be done to prepare the island for twin hurricanes, and very little or nothing could be prepositioned for relief purposes once the hurricanes passed.

To blame the Puerto Ricans for this situation is outrageous, but that's how the game is played. Almost exactly the same playbook was used in New Orleans after Katrina. It was their fault entirely.

So here we go again, and the regime is whining and complaining that "the media" is unfairly fostering the notion that nothing is being done fast enough to prevent a humanitarian crisis on Puerto Rico and other Caribbean islands.

"The media" got over its obsession with Trump's NFL tweetstorm over the weekend and began focusing on Puerto Rico only to find a horrible situation on the ground and a total lack of relief for the residents on the interior and very little relief in San Juan. The fact that they reported on this situation was furiously denounced by the White House as undermining "morale" on the island. What nonsense, but there you are. The fact that Puerto Ricans are suffering and are not receiving aid while containers pile up in the port is not to be reported, apparently, as it is not flattering to the regime. Only "good news" is to be reported.

"The media" is reluctant to play along. But we'll see.

They have a way of failing at crucial moments.

Meanwhile the catastrophe worsens.

Katrina was seen as an opportunity by the Disaster Capitalists, and we can assume the same for Puerto Rico and the other devastated islands. Until profits are assured to the capitalist vultures, relief will be slow walked, the point being to get rid of undesirable and surplus brown and black people on the islands, much as poor refugees from Katrina were left to die, and the survivors were hustled out of the region.

New Orleans' population was cut by something like a third.

The disaster capitalists made out like the bandits they are, and most of the poor and black residents have been dispossessed, exiled, and otherwise "disappeared." Win-win, right?

So it goes, and so it is likely to go in Puerto Rico and the islands.

There will be the usual hand wringing objections, but nothing substantive will be done about it.

"It's for the best..."

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