Friday, April 20 will mark seven months since Puerto Rico was devastated by Hurricane Maria. Are things getting any better on the island? It really depends on who you ask. For those who are still without power, the answer is a clear no. While gains have been made in terms of restoring electricity to homes and businesses, things remain unstable and unpredictable. In fact, just last week there was another massive power outage that left 700,000 residents in the dark. And while we know that Maria brought about the longest blackout in American history, according to CNN, it now also represents the second largest blackout in world history.
As Doug Criss writes:
Since the monster storm slammed into the American Caribbean territory in September 2017 and heavily damaged the power grid, more than 3.4 billion hours of electricity have been lost there. That makes it the second-longest blackout in world history, according to a report from the Rhodium Group, an economic research firm.
The only blackout in world history bigger than Puerto Rico’s is the one that came after Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines in 2013. About 6.1 billion hours of power were lost after that massive storm.
But it’s not just power that the people of Puerto Rico have been left without. The island’s government has recently announced plans to close 283 schools in the next year. While they claim that this is due to declining student enrollment, they are also planning to implement privatization efforts by introducing charter schools and issuing school vouchers. This plan will impact tens of thousands of students and thousands of teachers. So while it’s a plan that most certainly works to the benefit of private investors and those business people who stand to benefit from the deconstruction of public schools, it is not at all good for the majority of people on the island—especially those who are poor and in need.
Another group of stakeholders that would say that everything is going just fine and dandy in Puerto Rico is its creditors. According to the New York Post, local and federal government officials are forecasting that Puerto Rico will be able to make debt service payments in 2018 at higher rates than it did prior to Hurricane Maria.