Today the Trump administration announced a waiver of the Jones Act. While some were quick to celebrate, their bubbles were promptly burst upon reading the fine print: the waiver would only be in effect for 10 days.
That's not what the nearly 500,000 supporters of this petition signed up for. While I realize 12 months is more than what the shipping industry would want our President to agree to, it's not even a fair compromise. It's a public relations strategy, and you shouldn't be celebrating.
At least a million people lost power during Hurricane Irma, nearly a month ago. Many never had power restored. Power is not expected to return for six months after Maria made all of Puerto Rico go dark more than a week ago. Ports are clogged with shipments that cannot be delivered because there are no drivers. Drivers cannot volunteer because the phones are out of service. We're 8 days into this thing and we have barely made a dent of progress in restoring basic necessities for the island.
The people of Florida should be especially disturbed. We know the fear a hurricane brings. In Tampa, Grocery store shelves were bare. Bottled water was nowhere to be found. Gas stations bagged up their pumps one by one. People were fist fighting in store parking lots over limited resources. This was all before the storm even hit, and clean running water was still completely and abundantly available pretty much everywhere. Don't get me wrong, Florida suffered. Especially in areas like Key West. But most Americans on the mainland have NO IDEA what our fellow citizens are going through in Puerto Rico right now. We cannot fathom to endure the struggle they are currently living in. Intolerable heat. No fuel. No electricity. No food. No water. No medical or emergency services in some areas, like Aguadilla. People cannot connect with their loved ones, like my friend Brijit Martinez, who has not been able to contact her father Kelvin Martinez in Aguadilla since the storm hit.
Puerto Rico needs help, and there shouldn't be an asterisk next to our commitment to them. No one should profit from their suffering. There has to be a reasonable way to waive the Jones Act so that Puerto Rico can heal. Allowing it to spin into chaos will only make matters worse. This doesn't have to be a zero sum game. But it's not going to happen in 10 days.
You can help: please visit www.title46.com to receive updates, help find loved ones in Puerto Rico who are missing and get informed on ways to help.