More than three years after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico and killed approximately 3,000 people, the island has yet to fully recover. Case in point: Nearly 27,000 homeowners have applied for federal aid to repair their homes, but a year and half after the program opened, not a single project had been completed.
It’s just one example of how aid to the commonwealth has been slow and insufficient. To many Puerto Ricans, Washington’s botched response is merely a continuation of the neglect they’ve experienced since becoming a U.S. colony in 1898. Despite their designation as American citizens, the island’s 3 million residents cannot vote in federal elections. And due to massive debt accrued after a long recession, officials have steadily gutted social services, leaving residents without a safety net. Poverty rates on the island hover around 40 percent, and around 200,000 people have fled since the storm.
Filmmaker Cecilia Aldarondo captured the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Landfall, a documentary released last year. In making the film, Aldarondo, who was raised in central Florida as part of the Puerto Rican diaspora, ... Read more