SUNY, CUNY Students Volunteering in Puerto Rico

Elias Hubbard
June 13, 2018

The National Puerto Rican Day Parade, usually a joyous celebration of the island's people and culture, will also include tributes this year to heroes who have been helping Puerto Rico recover from the devastation of Hurricane Maria.

The 61st annual National Puerto Rican Day Parade took over Fifth Avenue in Manhattan Sunday with floats, musicians and brightly colored costumes.

Whether Hurricane Maria killed a few dozen Americans or 4,600 after it slammed into Puerto Rico past year, the USA government's inefficient response should go down in history as a shameful episode that must not be repeated.

"On this day of unity, we use our collective voice to remind the elected officials enthusiastically marching with us this Sunday that they also have a responsibility to advocate for policies that treat the over 8 million Puerto Ricans, regardless of whether they live stateside or on the island, like the USA citizens they are, with the dignity and respect everyone deserves in a time of crisis".

The parade's organizers told ABC News that the event will honor first responders and those who helped with emergency efforts in the storm's aftermath.

Ortiz, 53, of Brooklyn, and other paradegoers voiced frustration over what they said was an underreporting of the death toll in Puerto Rico and a tepid emergency response by the administration of President Trump.

A recent study from Harvard University estimated there were up to 4,600 more deaths than usual in the three months after Hurricane Maria, although some independent experts questioned the methods and the number in that study.

"It makes me feel sad that still to this day there's people without electricity, still without water, roads are really bad - I was just there in April and the conditions are still bad", one parade-goer said.

"This is a year where Puerto Rico has been devastated", said Louis Maldonado, chairman of the board that oversees the parade and its affiliated events.

Still, many people were stunned by survey results published last week in the New England Journal of Medicine that found the September 20 storm's death toll could be 70 times the official estimate.

Governor Andrew Cuomo had harsh words before the parade for President Trump's ineffective hurricane relief efforts. "I'm just exhausted of the way my island has been treated". At a pre-parade breakfast, Cuomo said, "We celebrate much, but we also stand and march in defiance today". That led some sponsors to withdraw their support and some politicians like Cuomo to decline to take part. He and the group he is marching with plan to be in black T-shirts that reflect the Harvard study's estimate of the dead.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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