Hurricane María survivors plan Sept. 22 protest at Mar-a-Lago to demand justice for Puerto Rico


  • Monivette Cordeiro
A year after the catastrophic storm, Hurricane María survivors and advocates plan to stage a protest at President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach to mourn the victims of the disaster and demand justice for Puerto Rico.

Organizers estimate thousands of people from Puerto Rican and Latino groups, faith leaders and progressive allies around Florida will travel in buses and vehicles forming a caravana from Broward County to Mar-a-Lago on Saturday, Sept. 22 starting at noon. The route and registration for the caravana is here.

Later, a rally and a vigil for victims will be held starting at 3 p.m. at the Meyer Amphitheatre at 105 Evernia St., West Palm Beach. You can register for that event here.

"Nearly one year ago, Hurricane María ravaged Puerto Rico," states Alianza for Progress, a group organizing the event with Power 4 Puerto Rico. "The storm left almost the entire island without food, electricity or clean water. … Since then, hurricane survivors have also become victims of government inefficiency, discrimination and neglect."

Despite an estimated 2,975 people dying in María's aftermath, Trump recently qualified the federal government's response as an "unsung success." On Tuesday night, MSNBC reported the administration had transferred nearly $10 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for deportations and detention centers. Meanwhile, FEMA only approved 75 requests for funeral assistance from Puerto Rican families after María, despite 2,431 requests for help, BuzzFeed News reports.

"FEMA’s response in Puerto Rico has been borderline negligent and wholly inexcusable when compared to its efforts on the mainland after Hurricanes Sandy, Irma and Harvey," Alianza for Progress says in a statement. "The true extent of suffering in Puerto Rico has been severely diminished and undercounted. In the days and months after Maria, the Trump administration demonstrated blatant disregard for the lives and safety of Puerto Ricans." 

At a press conference in Kissimmee on Wednesday, Alianza for Progress and other Puerto Rican groups say there will be other events in Orlando and Kissimmee in the week leading up the Sept. 22 protest, including:

- #WeAreAllAmerica Freedom Fest featuring Jory Boy & DJ Blass at BB King's Blues Club, 9101 International Drive, Orlando on Saturday, Sept. 15.

- A symposium titled "María: One Year Later" organized by the University of Central Florida and the Puerto Rican Student Association at UCF on Wednesday, Sept. 19 to discuss experiences after the hurricane and its effect on the Puerto Rican population.

- Two vigils for María victims organized by Vamos4PR Action in Orlando and Kissimmee on Thursday, Sept. 20.

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