Kamala Harris’s Epic Fail in Puerto Rico

Kamala Harris arrived in San Juan, Puerto Rico, last Friday for her first official visit as vice president. The trip was meant, in part, to highlight the Biden administration’s dedication to aiding the island’s recovery. What unfolded instead was a revealing tableau of Democrats’ missteps and misjudgments.

Ms. Harris’s roughly five-hour visit began in the community of San Isidro, in the municipality of Canóvanas. There, she visited María Ramos de Jesús, an 86-year-old whose home was only recently rebuilt with funds from a program of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

It was a curious choice. Many of the residents lack land titles, which made them ineligible for the Federal Emergency Management Agency programs she aimed to promote. The area was originally an informal settlement built on public wetlands by those displaced after Hurricane Hugo in 1989. The HUD funds come attached to a new FEMA flood map, which means that more than 250,000 homes like these across the island are identified to be at high risk of flood are ineligible for reconstruction.

The fact that it took seven years for Ms. Ramos’s home to be reconstructed after Hurricane María is indicative of how the federal government repeatedly fails Puerto Ricans, no matter which party is in charge.

While the Trump administration may have left Puerto Ricans in the dark after the hurricane, it was the Democrats who set the stage for the storm’s disastrous aftermath. Things might have turned out different had the Obama administration fairly confronted Puerto Rico’s financial crisis by offering debt relief, addressing historical injustices and protecting essential services, rather than saddling residents with a federally appointed fiscal control board that has only caused more harm.

While on the campaign trail, Joe Biden pledged to reverse the austerity policies imposed by the fiscal board and to support an audit of Puerto Rico’s debt to identify any illegally issued debt. These promises, however, fell by the wayside once he was in office.

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