An Interview with Eva-Marie Quinones, Head of National Youth Engagement for the Unity March for Puerto Rico
By Stephanie Presch, Content Specialist, UnidosUS
On November 19, UnidosUS participated in the Unity March for Puerto Rico. The march fell on the anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s arrival on the island in an effort to reclaim the date in the name of unity and solidarity with the Puerto Rican people, who are still suffering more than 60 days after the impact of Hurricane Maria.
The march drew support from politicians such as Congressman Luis Gutierrez, Senator Kristen Gillibrand, and Congressman Joseph Crowley, as well as celebrities such as Chef Jose Andres and composer and playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Today, as we reach two months since Hurricane Maria hit the island, there are still thousands who lack electricity, clean water, have to stand in line for medical care, and cannot send their children to school.
While the House approved a $44 billion relief package, this money is meant to be split between Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. It’s also estimated that Puerto Rico needs more than $90 billion for adequate relief—so this package falls woefully short.
It also cannot be forgotten that while Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma rightfully received instant attention from the president, he was silent for six days on Hurricane Maria.
Not only that, but it was only after intense pressure that President Trump agreed to sign a waiver for the Jones Act for Puerto Rico, a 1920 law that increases shipping costs to the island. While this waiver should have been for at least a month, he only authorized it for 10 days. This further strained the island’s resources in a time when the island had just been devastated by Hurricane Maria.
Following the march, I spoke with Eva-Marie Quinones, a PhD student in Political Economy and Comparative Politics at Yale University and the Head of National Youth Engagement for the Unity March for Puerto Rico about why the march was organized and why it’s important to keep fighting for the island.
“It was a protest that disaster relief was improperly responding to Hurricane Maria, and it was a protest that Puerto Rico would not be in such a bad position if it were not treated so unequally.”