Thanks for sharing Jeoff. It is an issue that deserves more attention.
As an avid salsa fan, I’d been several times to the nearby island of Cuba and made many friends there, with the latest visit ending in the weeks before Maria struck. Those of us in UK with similar experience and friends in Cuba watched with concern as events unfolded around Maria.
The Cubans monitored closely the effects in Puerto Rico as they happened, and had already estimated deaths in the thousands there, watching as Puerto Rico was literally flattened before the hurricane arrived at Cuba around 24 hours later.
Cuba in turn was battered, with some buildings flattened in Havana, but with the brunt of the damage happening further East on the island where the storm struck first. There were immediate deaths in Havana alone as buildings fell, but not many, less than five, because most people had already been evacuated from the city.
We followed events over the next few days, receiving photos from friends wading chest deep in water through the streets in Havana, to rescue the less fortunate. The death toll went up to around ten in those few days.
One of my own friends from Havana had to be treated for Dengue, which struck in the days after the Hurricane.
In the weeks that followed, we watched as the Cuban government re-deployed the entire workforce on the island towards the disaster relief effort, repairing power, water, and roads infrastructure. They had most things back to normal within around three weeks.
We were not surprised to note an almost complete lack of coverage of events in Cuba in the world news press, given the politics between the Cuban and US governments. No change there.
What did come as a surprise though, was also a lack of coverage of Puerto Rico.
They had obviously been hit harder than Cuba, so would have had many more deaths, and they were American citizens, so we were expecting a deluge of awful news from Puerto Rico, but it never came.
We knew from from our Cuban friends that Puerto Rico was experiencing a major human disaster with literally thousands dying, yet nothing was being done by their government; the US government, to help them. There was no news coverage via the usual channels.
Facebook removed a post of my own, with a link to a youtube video mentioning Puerto Rico, citing “Decency”. It was a salsa dancing video, nothing unusual or family unfriendly at all.
In the months that followed, we occasionally got news of events in Puerto Rico, mostly on the wranglings of various big business entities to get in on business deals to reconstruct infrastructure, at profit, without success, no profit to be made there. Still even now we hear stories of Puerto Ricans having no power or water.
I am sorry to say that the information of these academic studies revealing the true death toll in Puerto Rico comes as no surprise to those of us who were monitoring events at the time.