Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

U.S. Government needs to stop Jones, save people of Puerto Rico


Tonight, the entire island of Puerto Rico remains devastated, days after the worst hurricane in 80 years completely destroyed almost every aspect of communities there. Thousands remain without even a drop of water or a bite of food and, unlike other parts of the United States after recent hurricanes, without the ability to use a telephone to signal for help.
At the same time thousands of shipping containers full of medicine, food, water and clothes are sitting at the island’s ports and remain unable to be distributed because of a lack of logistics and because of problems with Puerto Rico’s crumbling infrastructure and roadways.
Reports say that only 21 of the 69 hospitals on the entire island have power tonight. Officials say that most of the island could be without electricity, telecommunication, fuel and basic supplies such as food and water for days or even weeks, causing millions of stricken people to risk losing their lives if help doesn’t come fast.
If that isn’t heartbreaking enough, there is a measure in place that is slowing down the ability to get relief delivered.
While resources have been ordered to the island, such as hospital ships and generators, something called “The Jones Act” is slowing down the possibility of even more aid being delivered and its preventing the aid that has already been ordered from getting there even faster.
The Jones Act is a law that states that all goods shipped between U.S. ports be carried by ships built by Americans and operated by Americans. The act says that any foreign vessels that enter Puerto Rico could have to pay taxes, fees and tariffs.
Congress has the ability to temporarily suspend this act, and if there is any time to suspend it, it is during a time where millions of our fellow American’s are facing a humanitarian crisis.
There is no reason in the world, under any circumstance – no matter how devastating or unprecedented an event is, that an island that is part of the United States of America should have thousands (or even millions) of its people starving, without water, without health care, and without the ability to call for help.
It is time for the Department of Homeland Security to waive that law for one year, as suggested by 8 house Democrats, and allow FEMA and other forces to get aid and resources to Puerto Rico quickly. Failure to do so could cost citizens and visitors of Puerto Rico their lives.
America needs to get it’s “act” together, and right now, American’s are (literally) dying waiting for that to happen.

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U.S. Government needs to stop Jones, save people of Puerto Rico