Thousands March On National Mall To Demand Puerto Rico Disaster Relief




 

Thousands gathered Sunday on the National Mall in Washington to demand the federal government increase its commitment to disaster relief on hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico.

Participants met in front of the U.S. Capitol in the morning before marching to the Lincoln Memorial, where speakers delivered remarks amid a sea of Puerto Rican flags.

Lin-Manuel Miranda, whose parents were both born in Puerto Rico, called on federal agencies to increase their aid and security to the more than 3.4 million Puerto Rico residents affected.

"Puerto Rico, you are not forgotten," Miranda told the crowd. "We can keep raising money, but it's not gonna do any good if the government doesn't help us."

The "Hamilton" creator has been an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump's response to the humanitarian crisis plaguing Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria pummeled the U.S. territory in September. In October, Miranda tweeted that Trump was going "straight to hell" for attacking San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, who has sharply criticized the federal government in the wake of the disaster.

Over 1.5 million people are still without electricity more than two months after Maria made landfall, killing at least 55 people. Some of the island's most vulnerable communities continue to wait for basic necessities, including food and shelter.

Sunday's Unity March for Puerto Rico was organized by Evelyn Mejil, founder of Project HOPE 360, and was endorsed by dozens of organizations, including the Hispanic Federation and the National Puerto Rican Day Parade. The event's national committee outlined three goals for the march: to eliminate an archaic maritime law known as the Jones Act to increase trade revenue, to cancel Puerto Rico's $73 billion debt, and to grow the economy while rebuilding critical infrastructure.

Miguel Guadalupe, director of nonprofit La Unidad Latina Foundation, detailed his reasons for participating in the rally in an op-ed published Saturday on CNN.com.

"Puerto Ricans are everyday Americans," Guadalupe wrote. "And they will follow in the footsteps of Americans who sought justice before them."

"As a member of the Puerto Rican diaspora, and as a U.S. citizen, I and others have a responsibility to do whatever we can to give the island a voice where it has none," he continued.

Check out pictures of the rally below:

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