Rebuild Puerto Rico Before Border Wall, Says Latino Professor

Puerto Rico vs the Border Wall
File Photos: AP/
Orlando, FL

A Latino professor from Florida says Congress should divert money away from building walls along the southwestern border to fund the rebuilding of Puerto Rico. He went on to call for an FDR-style public works program for the U.S. territory that was devastated by Hurricane Maria.

University of Central Florida history professor, Dr. Luis Martinez-Fernández, called on Congress and President Donald Trump to create a massive public works project similar to the one created by FDR at the end of the Great Depression in order to rebuild Puerto Rico from the near total destruction left in the wake of Hurricane Maria, Salon reported.

“[Franklin] Roosevelt was the president, and as you know, he was surrounded by a brain trust of people who were there to serve their fellow Americans in a time of crisis,” the professor explained in the interview. “Roosevelt, and particularly through Eleanor Roosevelt, had a very intimate relationship with the progressive leadership of Puerto Rico during the 1930s. I’m referring mainly to the leader of the progressive faction, Luis Muñoz Marín.”

The Salon article appears to ignore the near state of bankruptcy faced by Puerto Rico after decades of “progressive leadership.”

Martínez-Fernández talked about the relationship between Puerto’s leadership at the time and the former Democrat president who helped create massive government spending programs. He went on to detail how that might play out in the current need for reconstruction of the territory.

“First, the cleanup effort — there’s a lot of debris and it needs to be moved out of the way. On a small island they will have to find a place for that,” the professor explained. “Second, speed up a package of relief similar to Hurricane Sandy’s. It may have to be larger. The next one? Be ready for refugees leaving the island in large numbers.” He suggested that plans should be ready to accommodate them in cities with large Puerto Rican communities in place, including Orlando, Chicago, New York, and elsewhere.

He went on to call for stricter building standards and new infrastructure projects. “It will require higher standards, better materials, and that’s going to take time and money,”  he said. “The infrastructure is going to be essential, making all the resources available to rebuild roads, etc.”