Puerto Rico crisis

Updated at 5:37 p.m. ET

Justice Secretary Wanda Vázquez has been sworn in as governor of Puerto Rico, ending for now the latest dizzying developments in Puerto Rican politics.

Pedro Pierluisi, who was just sworn in as governor on Friday, was removed from office because the commonwealth's Supreme Court ruled unanimously Wednesday that his swearing-in was unconstitutional.

Updated at 8:50 p.m. ET

Pedro Pierluisi has been sworn in as the new governor of Puerto Rico, succeeding Ricardo Rosselló who resigned in disgrace and appointed Pierluisi as secretary of state.

According to the island's constitution, the secretary of state is the first in line to succeed the governor. Puerto Rico's House of Representatives approved Pierluisi's nomination earlier Friday.

U.S. authorities have unsealed a corruption indictment against two former top officials in Puerto Rico for directing some $15.5 million in contracts to favored businesses, allegedly edging out other firms for the lucrative government work despite allegations of being unqualified.

The two former Puerto Rico leaders — Julia Keleher, who was the secretary of the island's department of education before stepping down in April, and Ángela Ávila-Marrero, who led Puerto Rico's Health Insurance Administration until last month — were arrested by FBI agents on Wednesday.

Mariano Torres Ramirez woke up early on Sunday. He got out of bed just after 5 a.m. and stepped into his garden to cut a little bunch of yellow marigolds — a gift for his mother.

"I'm going to tell her I'm sorry it's been so long since I've seen her," Torres said.

There are few things Democrats and Republicans in Congress usually agree on, but one of them is rushing federal money to victims of natural disasters.

That sentiment crumbled this week when the Senate failed to advance two separate disaster funding bills. Both included bipartisan funding to help relieve damage across the country from flooding, wildfires, tornadoes and hurricanes. But a fight over assistance for Puerto Rico has derailed getting a deal on the entire package.

César Díaz felt lucky that only a couple of leaks had sprung in his ceiling, even though Hurricane Maria tore the zinc panels off much of his roof. His real troubles began about a year after the storm, when a crew hired by Puerto Rico's housing department showed up to make the repairs.

"They weren't very professional," Díaz said. "They didn't wear gloves, and they asked if I had an extra piece of wood."

Within days, there were new leaks. Not only in the living room but in the bedroom, over his daughter's crib.

In the lush green mountain town of Lares, Puerto Rico, even the dead and buried were scarred by Hurricane Maria.

The September 2017 storm dumped so much rain onto the town's only cemetery that it triggered a landslide. The flow of mud and water was so powerful that it damaged nearly 1,800 tombs — expelling caskets from their graves and sending some of them tumbling down a hillside.

Hurricane Maria Victims Are Not Going To Decide Florida’s Statewide Elections

Oct 30, 2018
Miami Herald

A hurricane that made landfall 1,000 miles from Miami jolted Florida’s political ecosystem a year ago.

Democrats and Republicans spent months making trips to Puerto Rico, jostling for endorsements from island politicians and cutting Spanish-language TV ads that reached as far as San Juan.

Abandoned Animals Strain System In Puerto Rico

Sep 24, 2018

As the sun rises above San Juan’s Peninsula de Cantera neighborhood, stray pigs roam the streets looking for scraps of food.

Kaitlin Hall / WUFT

On Sept. 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria pounded Puerto Rico, destroying nearly everything in its path and cutting off the island from the rest of the world.

A year later, the storm is long gone but the memories of near-death experiences and horrific suffering remain fresh for Puerto Ricans.

“We’re going to die here,” Pablo Soto Soto recalls his wife telling him as the storm knocked out their windows and ripped off their roof in Yabucoa.

Read the whole series: Life After Maria, a WUFT Special

Sam Turken / WLRN

Standing alongside Puerto Rican community leaders in Miami on Thursday, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson said he didn't want to talk politics on the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria's landfall in Puerto Rico. 

But that wish gradually gave way as the Democrat from Florida condemned President Donald Trump for disputing the death toll from the hurricane and called on the federal government to do more to rebuild the island. 

Carmen Lugo has lived in Puerto Rico her whole life, and her whole life she has feared the water that comes out of her tap.

"When I was a child, we used filters," she says, leaning on the doorjamb with her 11-year-old in front of her and two teenage sons sleepy-eyed behind her on a morning in July.

"The water here," she says, pausing as she purses her lips in a tight smile. She chooses her words carefully. "We want to be in good health," she finally says. "My husband, he buys water from the Supermax," referring to a local grocery store.

UCF Establishes Research Hub For Puerto Rico

Sep 19, 2018

As Puerto Rico recovers from Hurricane Maria and evacuees from the island settle in Central Florida, the University of Central Florida has created a Puerto Rico Research Hub designed to identify solutions to challenges and issues affecting the community.

Eleven months after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has said that the island's emergency is over. And because of that, the agency has begun scaling back its financial assistance to the island.

Puerto Rico's sole provider of electricity for 1.5 million residents says power has been returned to all homes that lost electricity from Hurricane Maria last September.

Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority identified a family near the mountainous, rural barrios of Real and Anón, in Ponce, a city and municipality in the island's south, as their final customers to receive returned power. PREPA tweeted their image.

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