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Campaign Updates

10/18/2017

Hundreds, Sen. Warren Demand From Trump and Congress a Just Recovery for Puerto Rico, Florida, and Texas

Senator Warren and NYC Council Speaker Mark-Viverito spoke at march

10.18.17

WASHINGTON, DC -- Today, for the first time, communities battered by Hurricanes Irma, Maria and Harvey came together at the U.S. Capitol to demand a #JustRecovery through a robust aid package for Puerto Rico, Texas and Florida. As they marched from the US Capitol to the offices of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Department of Housing and Urban development (HUD), dozens of people, organizations, and elected officials like Senator Elizabeth and New York City Council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, sent a powerful message to Congress and the White House demanding an equitable recovery for impacted areas. More photos here.

Carrying blue tarps, constituents displayed demands at the Hart Senate Office Building to visualize the slow recovery and lack of federal response in these communities. At FEMA and HUD, protesters rolled out paper towels that read “Drop the Debt”. In a press conference, hosted at Capitol Lawn, impacted communities demanded Congress to release a package that puts people first, including the following:

1) Immediate approval and decentralized distribution of a robust supplemental aid package to communities in Puerto Rico, Texas, and the US Virgin Islands;

2) Immediate cancellation of Puerto Rico’s public debt & moratorium on debt payments, and

3) Creation of local jobs, with living wages and protections, to rebuild our communities and develop a more equitable and clean energy economy.

“Puerto Rico is facing a full-scale humanitarian crisis, and every last dollar of aid must go to helping the hurricane victims,’ said U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren. “We have an obligation to put the lives of U.S. citizens ahead of Wall Street profits — it’s as simple as that. Wall Street vulture funds should not get a single penny more from the devastated island.’ Warren’s office did not elaborate on how she would propose to eliminate Puerto Rico’s massive debt.”

“For the past few weeks, millions of American citizens in Puerto Rico have been struggling to survive the catastrophic impact of two hurricanes – first Irma and now Maria – while their President initially ignored their suffering. I am proud to join so many Americans today to demand relief for our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico,” said NYC Council Speaker Mark-Viverito. “I thank the organizations sponsoring the event today, especially the Center for Popular Democracy, for uniting all of us to work together in alleviating the financial and emotional burden the Puerto Rican people are currently suffering. Puerto Rico deserves a better present and a prosperous future.  For this to happen, we must all hold our government accountable.”

“While people continue to die in Puerto Rico, Trump continues to treat residents of the island as second class citizens by failing to provide and distribute the necessary aid Puerto Ricans need to survive,” said Dianne Enriquez, director of the Center for Popular Democracy’s hurricane recovery effort. “The devastation requires a strong proactive response  – not the weak action and paltry relief request we see from this White House. Our communities demand a #JustRecovery and the freedom to thrive.”

“I’m from small town in Puerto Rico called Naranjito. My family, like many on the island, are still waiting for distribution of basic supplies.  They are in desperate need of water, gas and food.They are waiting up to 15 hours in a line for food only to receive two water bottles and scraps of food. It is heartbreaking and it is shameful,” said Maria Beri, member of New York Communities for Change. “I am here today not only  to demand Congress the immediate and decentralized distribution of aid, but to also demand immediate cancellation of Puerto Rico’s public debt. Puerto Ricans need to come first, not Wall Street vultures.”

“After Irma rolled thru our community in North Fort Myers, about a dozen of my neighbors lost their homes,” stated Marjorie Mathers, a senior living in Buccaneer Estates, a manufactured home community owned and operated by Equity LifeStyle Properties, Inc. (ELS), the nation’s largest corporate owner of manufactured home communities. “To make matters worse, for my neighbors who lost their home, ELS is continuing to charge them for lot rent (monthly payment for the land) even though they can’t live there anymore. ELS’s drive to make a profit at all costs is inexcusable. That’s why I’m going to DC. We need to demand a #JustRecovery and ensure that corporations and elected officials put people first during the recovery process.”

The Trump Administration has offered a negligent and weak response by only asking Congress for a fraction of what communities need to save lives and get back on their feet. Hurricane damage is currently estimated at $294 billion ($180 billion in Texas, $95 billion in Puerto Rico, and $19 billion in Florida) but the White House has only asked Congress for $29 billion.

The march was organized by a slew of advocacy groups including the Center for Popular Democracy and CPD affiliates Make the Road (New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut), Organize Florida, CASA, New York Communities for Change, Vocal-NY, MH Action, New Florida Majority, Texas Organizing Project, and the Workers Defense Project, as well as Strong Economy for All, SEIU, UAW, AFSCME, SEIU 32BJ, New York State Nurses Association, Housing Works, and the Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights.

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www.populardemocracy.org

The Center for Popular Democracy promotes equity, opportunity, and a dynamic democracy in partnership with innovative base-building organizations, organizing networks and alliances, and progressive unions across the country. CPD builds the strength and capacity of democratic organizations to envision and advance a pro-worker, pro-immigrant, racial justice agenda.