Puerto Rico crisis

Angry residents took to the streets of Puerto Rico on Monday.

Fury over the government's mishandling of disaster aid following a spate of devastating earthquakes earlier this month, coupled with the recent discovery of unused supplies — some dating back to Hurricane Maria — is driving frustrated demonstrators to the gates of the governor's mansion.

2 More Puerto Rico Officials Fired After Warehouse Break-In

Jan 20, 2020
CARLOS GIUSTI / AP

Gov. Wanda Vázquez fired the heads of Puerto Rico’s housing and family departments Sunday in the latest fallout over the discovery of a warehouse filled with emergency supplies dating from Hurricane Maria.

The removal of Housing Secretary Fernando Gil and Department of Family Secretary Glorimar Andújar came a day after the governor fired the director of Puerto Rico’s emergency management agency. Vázquez fired him hours after a Facebook video showed angry people breaking into the warehouse in an area where thousands have been in shelters since a recent earthquake.

Some in Puerto Rico are beginning to fear the ground will never stop shaking.

The island has been pummeled by hundreds of earthquakes in recent weeks, including Saturday's 5.9 magnitude temblor, where there were reports of landslides in the town of Peñuelas along the southern coast, rattling residents already on edge from last Tuesday's massive 6.4 magnitude quake.

PEDRO PORTAL / MIAMI HERALD

Puerto Rico is slightly more likely to be hit with an earthquake of magnitude 6.0 or higher over the next week, the U.S. Geological Survey said, after an intense aftershock Saturday led the agency to tweak its statistical models.

In an “Aftershock Forecast” updated Sunday, the USGS said the chance of a magnitude 6.0 earthquake or higher was 11% — up from 7% a week ago. However, the chance of a magnitude 7.0 earthquake remained at just 1%.

“Such an earthquake is possible but with low probability,” the USGS said.

Pedro Portal, PPORTAL@MIAMIHERALD.COM

Just days before his dramatic ousting on Aug. 2, former Puerto Rico governor Ricardo Rosselló signed a law, with little fanfare, to move up Puerto Rico’s Democratic presidential primary elections in 2020 from June to March.

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

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