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Campaign Updates

01/13/2020 | Organizing for a Just Recovery in Puerto Rico and Beyond

Puerto Rico’s Earthquakes; This is About Austerity

National Community Organizing Network Calls for Long Term Investments Over Band-Aid Solutions

01.13.2020 

SAN JUAN, PR -- Following the recent series of earthquakes since the start of the new year in Puerto Rico, causing an island-wide blackout, leaving thousands homeless, and causing structural damage to hundreds of buildings, schools, and main roads, an estimated two thousand people have been housed in shelters, and thousands more have pitched tents in their backyards. The Center for Popular Democracy - a national network of community organizations - and the Maria Fund  - created after the historic 2017 hurricane - made a call to funnel resources to community groups on the ground and address the real issue at hand. 

“From the Hurricanes of 2017 to the earthquakes of this year, Puerto Rico continues to grasp for recovery under decades of political mismanagement and budget cuts that have crippled its infrastructure and driven hundreds of thousands out. In order to ensure that Puerto Ricans achieve a just recovery, we must address the root of the issue,” added Julio Lopez Varona, co-director of community dignity campaigns of the Center for Popular Democracy. “The debt is a burden to the recovery of the island and it must be canceled to put the needs of the people first, not Wall Street. Long-term investments in infrastructure, including building schools and shelters up to code, solidifying the power and water grids, securing hospitals and roads, protecting pensions, and providing safe housing alternatives for low-income families, are just a few of the basic needs that should be immediately championed. Anything less is placing a band-aid on an open wound, expecting it to just go away.”

The Maria Fund plans to move rapid response funding to the network of social justice initiatives and grassroots community organizing groups that are supporting the people most impacted by the recent earthquakes that have devastated areas of the south of Puerto Rico. Here is more detailed information of the immediate needs of the organizations located in these areas

“The disastrous response of the local and federal governments are connected to an agenda that doesn’t center the lives of the people of Puerto Rico. This agenda has created a crippling debt, promoted budget cuts, poor maintenance of infrastructure, privatization, and displacement. The frontline groups who are stepping up at this moment know this, and the relief response they are organizing is part of a commitment to demanding structural changes for the long-term”, added Xiomara Caro, Executive Director of the María Fund

These rapid response funds will also be made available to the network of 49 organizations, many of which have already decided to step up and organize needs assessments, delivery of emergency supplies, service brigades to refugee camps, legal education, emotional support, and demanding equitable and systemic changes to improve their immediate and long-term reality, among other strategies. See here this broader list of organizations

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Media Contact: Inarú Melendez, imelendez@populardemocracy.org, 413-331-9530  

Monday, January 13, 2020