Jan 21, 2020

Puerto Rico protesters call for governor to resign over unused aid

A protest outside the governor's mansion in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Jan. 20. The sign in the center reads: "The goverment wants us dead, while they hide what is ours." Photo: Jose Jimenez/Getty Images

Hundreds of protesters rallied outside Puerto Rico's Capitol building and the governor's coastal mansion Monday evening to demand the U.S. territory's leader resign over unused aid, as earthquakes continue to rock the island, AP reports.

Why it matters: In her first major crisis since becoming governor last August, Gov. Wanda Vázquez fired three top officials over a viral video showing a government warehouse full of unused disaster relief aid dating back to Hurricane Maria in 2017.

  • In scenes reminiscent of the start of last summer's demonstrations that led to the resignation of Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, protesters again declared they would "remain in the streets until Vázquez also steps down," AP notes.
  • Hundreds of people remain homeless in the quake-ravaged southern city of Ponce, where the video was filmed last Saturday, per NPR.

Video details: The livestream by activist Lorenzo Delgado shows cases of unwrapped bottled water, generators, blankets, diapers, baby formula and wipes. Boxes of ready meals can be seen, along with signs stating: "FEMA, Not For Resale."

What they're saying: Vázquez told a news conference Sunday the National Guard would help in the disaster response and she has "ordered a complete inventory of what supplies remained in warehouses as well as their expiration dates," BuzzFeed reports.

  • A National Guard spokesperson said late Monday its service members "had delivered some of the unused warehouse supplies to 10 municipalities outside of the main quake zone that had not previously received much aid, despite being affected by the temblors," according to the New York Times.

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Puerto Rico hit by magnitude-5.0 earthquake

Workers clean the debris from the Immaculate Conception Church after a 6.4-magnitude earthquake hit Guayanilla, Puerto Rico on Jan. 11. Photo: Pedro Alejandro Granadillo Hernanadez/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A magnitude-5.0 earthquake struck the southern coast of Puerto Rico Saturday, per the U.S. Geological Survey.

The big picture: Gov. Wanda Vázquez declared a state of emergency on Jan. 7 after two earthquakes measuring magnitudes of 6.4 and 5.8 hit the U.S. territory. The island has been rocked by a series of tremors since.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Jan 26, 2020

Michael Bloomberg endorses Puerto Rico statehood

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Michael Bloomberg's 2020 campaign released a plan Monday backing statehood for Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory.

Why it matters: Other candidates "have tip-toed around the issue of Puerto Rican statehood, saying they want Puerto Ricans to decide whether or not the U.S. territory becomes the country’s 51st state," the Miami Herald writes.

Go deeperArrowJan 27, 2020

U.S. hospitals begin preparing for the coronavirus

A health worker at Suizhou Central Hospital in Suizhou, China. Photo: Xiao Yijiu/Xinhua via Getty Images

Even though the risk to Americans remains low, hospitals across the U.S. are making sure they're ready for the coronavirus, STAT reports.

Why it matters: If the virus does spread within the U.S., hospitals being caught flat-footed would be a travesty.

Go deeperArrowFeb 10, 2020 - Health