RELEASE: CAP Delegation Visits Puerto Rico Through Puerto Rico Relief and Economic Policy Initiative

Washington, D.C. — As part of the Puerto Rico Relief and Economic Policy Initiative, a delegation of staff from the Center for American Progress recently visited Puerto Rico to gain a firsthand understanding of issues and challenges facing the island and its residents.

Overall, the CAP delegation participated in more than 30 distinct events and meetings as part of an ambitious agenda to ensure that they heard directly from residents and community leaders in heavily affected communities; learned from community-based groups providing direct services to Puerto Ricans; and built relationships with government officials, policymakers, activists, and experts across a broad range of disciplines.

Among other locations, the delegation visited Caño Martín Peña in San Juan; the municipality of Toa Baja and the severely flooded Villa Calma community; the Casa Pueblo sustainability project in Adjuntas; and the municipalities of Loíza, Morovis, and San Juan. By interacting with residents and leaders, the CAP delegation was able to learn about the magnitude and depth of destruction unleashed by Hurricane Maria as well as the very real cost in pain and suffering that the people of Puerto Rico have had to endure due to an unacceptably slow and insufficient federal response to the emergency needs of this population. In addition, it was clear that Puerto Rico is in dire need of bold policy solutions to address severe and ongoing structural, economic, fiscal, and public policy challenges.

In addition to recapping the visit to Puerto Rico, a new brief outlines some key themes that CAP staff intends to address in the future through analysis and advocacy.

“We left Puerto Rico hurt by the pain of the people and outraged by neglect from the federal government, but we also left with a stronger sense of commitment and determination to make a difference in the island’s future,” said Enrique Fernández-Toledo, director of the Puerto Rico Relief and Economic Policy Initiative at CAP. “CAP will continue to work to develop bold, progressive policies to help Puerto Rico; to advocate alongside and on behalf of the unheard residents; and to hold accountable those responsible for mismanagement and prolonged suffering.”

In March 2018, the Center for American Progress created the Puerto Rico Relief and Economic Policy Initiative to focus on immediate-term hurricane response efforts for Puerto Rico, with an eye toward long-term planning, economic recovery, and solvency.

Read the brief: “On the Ground in Puerto Rico: A Population Left Behind, A Monumental Task Ahead

For more information about CAP’s staff delegation to Puerto Rico, please contact Rafael Medina at rjmedina@americanprogress.org or 202.748.5313.