Donald Trump’s response to the devastation of Hurricane Maria caused in Puerto Rico reached new lows this week. So far, the president has spent more time fighting with the NFL over police brutality protests than helping the island territory. He also insulted the island’s response, claiming it wasn’t “a real tragedy like [Hurricane] Katrina.” The president also downplayed the number of deaths in the tragedy, while praising his own response to the crisis, and tossing paper towels to victims like a T-shirt gun at a sporting event.
“The Mayor of San Juan, who was very complimentary only a few days ago, has now been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump,” he tweeted from his golf club, CNN reported. “Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help. They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort.”
This week, Trump decided not to take one action that could actually help.
The Jones Act could help Puerto Rico, but Trump won’t
The Jones Act waiver for Puerto Rico expired Sunday night, and “it is not being extended at this time,” Department of Homeland Security spokesman David Lapan told The Huffington Post. The 1920 law requires that (more expensive) U.S. owned and operated ships must carry all goods between U.S. ports. That means Puerto Rico has to pay double the costs for goods from the U.S. mainland compared with neighboring islands (which, incidentally, lines U.S. shippers’ pockets). The law costs Puerto Rico hundreds of millions of dollars every year. Now, in the midst of a humanitarian crisis, the costs to import food, fuel, and supplies will spike.
Nearly half of the 3.4 million Americans on the island don’t have drinking water since Maria hit nearly three weeks ago. Only 15% have electricity. Many people still haven’t heard from loved ones, and the storm has caused at least 39 deaths.
Despite the DHS position, Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello said he wants another extension of the Jones Act waiver. “I think we should have it,” Rossello told CBS News. “In this emergency phase, while we’re looking to sustain and save lives, we should have all of the assets at hand.”
While Trump continues to alternately ignore and insult Puerto Rico, a number of celebrities have taken matters into their own hands. Here are some of the people using their powers for good.
You’ll want to turn up your speakers for the first one.