Missy Crutchfield: Puerto Rico’s Long Path to Recovery Is a Reminder of the United State’s Colonial Negligence and the Need for Change Now


Missy Crutchfield
Gandhi’s Be Magazine

Puerto Rico’s crisis reminds Americans we must learn from mistakes of the past and reclaim America’s highest calling, “freedom and justice for all.”

These crises in the world affect us all. The earthquake in Mexico will have long-lasting effects as the people clamor to find food, shelter, and rebuild their economy. For us in the United States, the tragic effects of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico will wreck havoc on their economy–which will in turn affect all of us here in the United States. And, it will have rippling effects way beyond that if we don’t wake-up now and work to help find solutions before Puerto Rico’s economy is irreversibly effected. If we don’t help, we will have ourselves to blame as we will share responsibility for the consequences.

In times like these, we should stand together more firmly than ever to help anywhere and everywhere we can. We should consider contributing to charities as well, but think through this wisely and with “eyes-open.” Be aware that many charities take advantage of crisis situation and use as an opportunity to keep their bloated administrative budgets and salaries, so be mindful of checking out non-profit budgets before you “give.”

Gandhi’s Be Magazine received a message from internationally recognized author and speaker Ivan Figueroa-Otero about the crisis in Puerto Rico, where he and his wife Ivette reside. Dr. Figueroa-Otero sent this message:

“Friends, monetary donations in general end up in the wrong hands. We need the congress to pass laws that foster our economic recovery. Yet we have no political influence on your representatives and depend on lobbying of politicians to help. We have been informed that power and water will not be normal for 5-6 months. Meanwhile, how do our professions thrive and find resources to pay our mortgages? People are getting desperate and soon social chaos and survival of the fittest will prevail. Nothing in history since the Great Depression or civil war has occurred–3.5 million Americans living in destitute conditions has never been seen.”

Dr. Figueroa-Otera goes on to share, “School systems may terminate the school year, and many children and families will be forced to leave Puerto Rico and come to the mainland U.S. to live temporarily or even permanently, depending on the situation and economic help and rebuilding efforts.” He also shared that his own grandchildren will probably be sent to live with relatives in the United States and concluded, “If we don’t keep PR in the awareness of the United States– the largest migration of people could occur, leaving a ghost country behind. All we ask for is to give us the tools to learn from our mistakes and to rebuild Puerto Rico again.”

The Washington Post reports on how the situation in Puerto Rico has been critical for some time, but now it is in full crisis mode. It is time the United States began working on real long-term solutions to the economic situation before it’s too late.

Recently in an interview with The Washington Post, Florida Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), stated “Puerto Rico doesn’t have a senator, so we’ve always treated it as a place we care about a lot.” About 80,000 Puerto Rico residents moved to the mainland United States last year, part of an exodus driven by the island’s devastated economy. Most of them relocated to Florida — another reason for lawmakers such as Rubio to worry about the island. Senator Rubio, whose state is home to more that one million Puerto Ricans continued saying, “We have to begin to think in the worst possible terms, between power restoration, critical infrastructure, housing assistance, the need to airlift critical medical  patients out of the island to the mainland, seniors, things like that.”

Rep. Nydia M. Velazquez (D-N.Y.), whose Brooklyn-area district has a significant Puerto Rican constituency also spoke with The Washington Post, saying, “The combination of the financial crisis, the health-care crisis and now these two natural disasters, it’s a recipe for a lot of people to feel that they’re hopeless and they need to come to the [mainland] United States.” Velázquez, who is awaiting news about family members on the island, warned that if legislation addressing the economic problems isn’t coupled with federal hurricane relief, “we’re going to have an unprecedented number of people who will continue to leave the island.”

The Washington Post Hurricanes may compel even more Puerto Rico residents to flee to the mainland, officials warn

Answering the Question: Are Puerto Ricans U.S. Citizens?

According to Wikipedia, Puerto Ricans have been American citizens for 100 years ( on March 2, 1917, Wilson signed the Jones-Shafroth Act, under which Puerto Rico became a U.S. territory and Puerto Ricans were granted statutory citizenship), and we know from U.S. history that when Americans are hurt or in crisis, fellow Americans rise up together to the cause– exemplifying amazing courage and compassion to help each other.

Right now Puerto Rico needs us, and as Dr. Figueroa-Otera describes, this may mean much more that traveling to Puerto Rico or sending money there through popular charities, this may mean we must also take a real look at our political system and economic development efforts, and how we can invest, empower, and partner with the people there to rebuild a strong sustainable economy back, which will in turn, fortify the rest of America. This includes speaking truth to power as well and getting out the vote to make sure our representatives are working on rebuilding efforts and transparent processes.

Please Sign The Petition Through WhiteHouse.gov!

CLICK HERE to sign the petition.

On a personal note: I hope we take time to consider these thoughts and suggestions. I pray we keep sharing ideas and ways we can help our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico, as well as all people in crisis around the world. Together we will overcome… Because together is the only way we can… We are all connected. We are one people. We are one planet. #WeAreOne #PrayForPuertoRico #BeTheChange

In Love, Peace & Compassion for #AllGodsChildren,

Missy Crutchfield
Gandhi’s Be Magazine