Few Americans will forget the controversy over President Donald Trump’s construction of additional sections of a wall separating the U.S. from Mexico and the closing of the federal government for a month at the end of 2018 and into 2019. Yet, few Americans will recall how Puerto Rico’s recovery assistance after Hurricane Maria got entangled in that controversy. As in many times in the past, U.S. policies toward Puerto Rico are conjunctural and too often have contradictory impacts on its economy and people. As a territory of the U.S., Puerto Rico is entitled to the benefits of the Stafford Act—the de facto national insurance policy to support communities after natural disasters. While private insurance covers most private property, such as housing and commercial buildings, the act covers public assets and damages to community’s infrastructure and other assets and aid to individuals.
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