Even before Hurricane María, Puerto Rico has been saddled with debt and struggling with a recession. This has meant a lot of public services have been struggling to meet people’s needs. I’ve written previously about the public school system in Puerto Rico and this week federal agents who manage the program Restart visited the island to check and evaluate the use of funds for restarting schools on the island.
The Department of Education received $589 million from Restart in 2018, but the first plan was not approved for use until January this year. The second plan was approved in September and accounted for 40% of the total funds.
I always talk about bad news but, this thread by David Begnaud talks about the influx of tourism on the island two years after María. He reported there has been a 55% increase in tourism demand to the island. I haven’t really seen this covered by other outlets and found out about it directly through his twitter — which is interesting in and of itself.
Great News out of Puerto Rico: 55% increase in tourism demand on the island. Also, small businesses and individual property owners are fueling the recovery of Puerto Rico’s tourism industry, post Hurricane Maria.
— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) October 26, 2019
The last piece of news I will share is that Ben Carson, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (did you also forget he was a part of Trump’s cabinet, because I did!), defended his agency for not disbursing funds to Puerto Rico. The department was supposed to put out notices on states affected by disasters by Sept. 4 and it did so for all states affected — except Puerto Rico. Call me crazy, but this sounds racially motivated to me!