As of late, the United States has suffered from a fair number of natural disasters, ranging from hurricanes in Texas and Florida to raging forest fires in California. One disaster that became relevant to the United States government is the recent damages caused by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Since 1917, residents of Puerto Rico have been granted both Puerto Rican and United States citizenship. This means that in addition to all the disasters that hit mainland United States, the US must now pay to help aid Puerto Rico as well. It is estimated that the damage done by Hurricane Maria will cost the United States government approximately anywhere between 45 and 95 billion USD.
The origins of Puerto Rico’s links to the United States are complex and convoluted, but current legislation defines it as a territory, although it is considered foreign to the US in a domestic sense. Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the United States Virgin Islands are also all regarded as US territories, but none have been awarded statehood, which has created ongoing issues for the local governments of these territories. These territories are known as unincorporated organized territories, although there are a number of other types of territories being held under United States power as well. The US constitution is only required to be enacted in incorporated territories.
Given the unincorporated status that is currently held over Puerto Rico, there are a number of loopholes available to the United States government when enacting legislation regarding Puerto Rico. Because of these loopholes, Puerto Rico is already approximately 70 billion dollars in public debt, in addition to now being plagued with the reparations following Hurricane Maria. In a recent referendum held in June of this year, 97 percent of voters voted in favor of Puerto Rico achieving statehood. Regardless, Puerto Rico has not yet been granted that privilege, and the island is suffering now more than ever.
If you would like to donate to the Hurricane Maria relief fund, the British Red Cross is doing fantastic work and would greatly appreciate any donations.