Puerto Rico: Amnesty International’s new Secretary General to visit Hurricane Maria victims abandoned by President Trump

Amnesty International’s new Secretary General, Kumi Naidoo, will visit Puerto Rico to draw attention to pressing human rights concerns and show solidarity with human rights activists and survivors on the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria on 20 September.

“A year after Hurricane Maria devastated the island, President Trump has shown his contempt for the people of Puerto Rico time and again by denying the damage that was done, insulting the victims and lying about the staggeringly high death toll,” said Kumi Naidoo.

“Trump’s pathetic response to this tragedy and his administration’s unforgivable failure to provide an adequate response to those affected is further evidence of his complete disdain for human rights.”

“Puerto Ricans may have been abandoned by the federal government and the island’s authorities in their hour of need, but activists and community members have shown incredible resilience in trying to rebuild. I want to meet with them and let them know that Amnesty International’s seven million supporters stand in solidarity with them, and we refuse to allow the injustices they have faced go ignored.”

Trump’s pathetic response to this tragedy and his administration’s unforgivable failure to provide an adequate response to those affected is further evidence of his complete disdain for human rights
Kumi Naidoo, Secretary General, Amnesty International

Erika Guevara-Rosas, Amnesty International’s Americas Director, will accompany Kumi Naidoo to Puerto Rico. Both will be available for interviews.

To mark the first anniversary of Hurricane Maria, Amnesty International has published a feature based on field research in Puerto Rico, including interviews with community leaders and people whose homes were left severely damaged by the hurricane.

Maria, the strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in nearly a century, made landfall on 20 September 2017, compounding the destruction caused by Hurricane Irma weeks earlier. On 28 August 2018, Puerto Rico’s Governor revised the official death count from 64 to 2,975. President Trump has repeatedly denied the numbers, but several other studies have estimated the death count to be even higher.

A year after Hurricane Maria, tens of thousands of people in Puerto Rico are still living under blue tarps, designed as temporary roofs. Following a Federal Court decision on 30 August, Puerto Ricans temporarily relocated to mainland USA lost housing support from the Federal Emergency Management Agency on 15 September.

Puerto Ricans may have been abandoned by the federal government and the island’s authorities in their hour of need, but activists and community members have shown incredible resilience in trying to rebuild.
Kumi Naidoo, Secretary General, Amnesty International

Last week, Amnesty International called for the US federal authorities to launch an independent investigation into the authorities' response to Hurricane Maria, amid new revelations of a massive stockpile of drinking water amassing on the runway of the airport in Ceiba, with no sign it was distributed for months on end to the hard-hit population.

More than 44% of Puerto Rico’ population lives in poverty, compared to the national US average of approximately 12%.

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Nidya Sarria (Amnesty International USA): +1 (202) 770-7215, nsarria@aiusa.org

Duncan Tucker (Amnesty International Americas): +52 1 55 4848 8266, duncan.tucker@amnesty.org