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Worldview

Death And Suffering In Puerto Rico Consistently Downplayed

When President Trump visited Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, he congratulated the residents of the U.S. territory for having only 16 dead from the storm versus the several thousand that could’ve been. The government of Puerto Rico soon raised the number to 64 and has stuck by it. But several independent investigations have found the number dead in Puerto Rico — directly from the hurricane or resulting from lack of fresh water or medical treatment — may be well over 1,000.

Yarimar Bonilla is an associate professor of anthropology and Caribbean studies at Rutgers University and is working with students from the University of Puerto Rico to research the multifaceted effects of Hurricane Maria. Thirty percent of survey respondents report at least one family member killed from the hurricane.

Facing criticism, the Governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo A. Rosselló, ordered a full review of deaths on the Island since the hurricane. Bonilla joins Worldview to discuss the death count, and Puerto Rico’s post-hurricane colonial challenges.

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