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Why is Puerto Rico still feeling the storm?

Barbara Gloudon

Friday, October 06, 2017

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THE current events which have been taking place in Puerto Rico, in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, are almost pathetic. How can a country survive without electricity; without drinking water; without easy access to health care, food, medicine, and other necessities? Other citizens around the Caribbean region who were victims of the hurricanes are also still in need of some assistance. Thankfully, efforts are being made to assist them and there is every belief that they will fully recover.

All things being equal, by now Puerto Ricans should be further along in finding their way back on track, but it is not so. Despite pledges of assistance from the US emergency response agencies, there are Puerto Ricans who are still finding life very difficult. They should be settling down to efforts to rebuild. All too sadly, their story is still filled with difficulties.

The most bizarre incidents came with US President Donald Trump on his visit to Puerto Rico in the week just ending. From reports, it was like a visit to Never-Never Land. To see and hear the media reports of the US president tossing rolls of paper towels into a crowd of distressed people as a gift was weird beyond all belief. This occurred a few days after he launched verbal attacks on Puerto Rican public officials, including the mayor of San Juan. The Commander-in-Tweet accused them of not being willing to help themselves! As was to be expected, the mayor and other officials were not pleased. Who would?

Puerto Ricans, by now, should be making serious evaluation of what they want for their country by way of recovery. They, as citizens of the United States, cannot understand why they do not receive the same options as other citizens within the US land borders. Earlier in June citizens of their territory had voted to remain within the US and not go the independence route. It wouldn't be surprising if they feel differently now. Someone recently said, “It is almost as if the Puerto Ricans should seek emancipation from what some would describe as a new round of slavery.”

Will the Puerto Ricans find the freedom which they need once more? Let us wish them well. We have been fortunate, as Caribbean people, to have received the goodwill of neighbours who do their best to help others. Give thanks.

Parental cruelty

Why would a mother in our society, chastising her child for inappropriate behaviour, use a machete to deliver punishment? What if the edges of this instrument had found their way into the child's flesh? To think that it could have been a lethal wound delivered by a parent is cause for deep concern. Beating a child in such a way can only be the work of someone who has lost all reason.

As the matter assumes nationwide importance, the wider public has been having their say, some declaring that wayward children need discipline, others declare disgust for what they see as abuse. In a widely used church hymnal, these words are to be found, “Can a woman's tender care cease towards the child she bears?” Heaven help us.

On far too many occasions children in our nation are treated in this cruel way in the defence that 'if they cannot hear, they should feel'. What nonsense! Parents who have such little compassion should be made to understand that their offspring are not wild beasts, but gifts of life who deserve to be treated as God's gift and not a mere object for abuse. This form of cruelty has got to be erased from the parent and child relationship in our society. Our children are to be corrected when they go astray, but not abused. Parents should not be allowed to get away with cruelty.

By the way, I see nothing wrong in the law entering the matter to teach a parent the difference between “abuse” and “tender care” for a child.

Congratulations to Portia Simpson Miller on the bestowal of a doctorate on her by The University of the West Indies recently. She is the first female to be prime minister in the nation of Jamaica. It is interesting to note that in the photograph taken at the ceremony at the Assembly Hall on The UWI Mona campus, the guest of honour was surrounded by three men. Not a female was in sight!

Will The UWI one day have a female chancellor, or principal? We are not asking that the men should have been dispersed, but a “sister or two” would have made an interesting statement, seeing that the guest of honour had, over the years, been credited for her notable role in her work with women, especially those who were in need of being helped to equip themselves to gain a better place in their development as citizens.

Barbara Gloudon is a journalist, playwright and commentator. Send comments to the Observer or gloudonb@yahoo.com.

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