Puerto Rico after Maria: What you need to know

April FrancisSep 29, 2017

Puerto Rico officials pressed the Trump administration on Wednesday to lift a ban on foreign shipping between American ports as the us island territory struggled with fuel, water and medical supply shortages one week after Hurricane Maria struck.

The Jones Act will be waived "immediately", press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.

The Jones Act is a century-old law that requires all goods shipped between US ports be carried on USA owned-and-operated ships and has been central to the criticism around the pace of the response to the crisis in Puerto Rico. Many people are unable to work or run businesses because there's no electricity, or diesel to fuel generators.

McCain tweeted his support for the act getting lifted.

Puerto Rico, which gets most of its fuel by ship from the United States, has been under petrol rationing since the hurricane struck.

In the northern town of Montebello, Maribel Valentin Espino and her husband said they have not seen anyone from the Puerto Rican government, much less the Federal Emergency Management Agency, since the storm tore through.

Mr Trump "has authorized the Jones Act be waived for Puerto Rico", a statement said on Twitter.

Last year, Congress approved the Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act for Puerto Rico, a bill created to help lift the island out of its vast debts with stricter federal oversight of spending and revenue. But the scope of the devastation is so broad, and the relief effort so concentrated in San Juan, that many people from outside the capital say they have received little to no help.

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Trump's decision to keep the Jones Act in place is also feeding into a narrative that the president is aloof to Puerto Rico's problems.

He says the priority now is the humanitarian and rescue mission in Puerto Rico.

These pictures show how Hurricane Maria has reduced the lush green landscape of Puerto Rico to a muddy brown in images captured from space. "The second night we were there, I talked to my husband and I said 'I'm sorry honey we're going to have to change our plans".

Trump on Wednesday acknowledged his administration is considering lifting the Jones Act to speed up aid to the island.

Meanwhile, despite agitation from powerful members in Congress to get rid of the law entirely so we don't keep having these debates after hurricanes, it's likely to stay on the books.

"Really our biggest challenge has been the logistical assets to try to get some of the food and some of the water to different areas of Puerto Rico", Rossello said interview with MSNBC on Thursday. But many more have just started arriving in the past few days on the few commercial flights available, or tagging along with rescue missions and military transports.

That would further a vicious cycle already underway, where fewer workers means less tax revenue, which hurts the economy, which encourages even more people to leave.

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