WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Power 4 Puerto Rico coalition released the following statement after the publication of a second independent report estimating that the actual number of deaths caused by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico surpasses by the hundreds the official government count of 64. Previously, a study lead by Harvard researchers found the PuertoRican and federal government had grossly underestimated the death toll by more than 4,000 additional fatalities. The hashtag #4645Boricuas was born from that report and on the eve of the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria, the clamor for accountability and transparency is only growing.
“Nearly a year since Hurricane Maria devastated the residents of Puerto Rico, we still do not have answers to the most basic questions from government officials about how many deaths came as a result of the hurricane, or why more was not done to prevent them,” said Melissa Mark-Viverito, campaign director for Power 4 Puerto Rico. “We commend the researchers who have led these various studies for their diligent work in uncovering the extent of the tragedy in Puerto Rico, but, in reality, a full accounting of what went wrong–and how the urgent, coordinated response that was needed could have prevented additional deaths– cannot happen without the full cooperation of the Puerto Rican and federal governments.”
“We call on the American people to loudly demand Congress advance the creation of a 9/11-style investigative commission, as proposed by Representative Nydia Velazquez throughThe National Commission of the Federal Response to Natural Disasters in Puerto Rico Act. As has been made painfully clear, the federal government left Puerto Ricans to languish, in comparison to how it readily managed other natural disasters across the mainland. The gross mismanagement, failures and disregard have cost lives, with Puerto Ricans still left vulnerable. We must know the full truth in order to prevent such a man-made disaster from ever being repeated and to help Puerto Rico withstand future hurricanes.”
Power 4 Puerto Rico is a coalition of organizations, leaders, and advocates from across the nation calling on Congress and the Administration to adopt an ambitious, new agenda that will put Puerto Rico’s economy on the road to future growth and prosperity. The coalition includes 32BJ Service Employees International Union, American Federation of Teachers (AFT), BoricuActívate, Center for American Progress (CAP), Center for Popular Democracy (CPD), Hedge Clippers, Hispanic Federation (New York, Florida, Connecticut, Puerto Rico), Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA), Labor Council For Latin American Advancement (LCLAA), Make the Road (New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Jersey), UnidosUS, Vamos 4 Puerto Rico, and many more.