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Puerto Rico Needs a 'Just' Recovery, Say Groups

NBC News logo NBC News 11/11/2017 Carmen Sesin

Photo gallery by The Atlantic

MIAMI -- Organizations including Climate Justice Alliance, Greenpeace and others are shining a spotlight on the need for Puerto Rico to have what they call a "just recovery," during a press conference in Miami Friday afternoon. It's part of a national campaign called #Our Power Puerto Rico: Art for Climate Justice.

"Puerto Rico is experiencing the worst crisis that we can see as a result of climate change," Angela Adrar, Executive Director of Climate Justice Alliance told NBC Latino.

The group believes the crisis surrounding Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria hit on September 20, is based on "a failing system that has been failing Puerto Rico for decades. And you can see it now clearly in the way their energy, their food system, their basic needs aren't being met any longer," Adrar said.

RELATED: Puerto Rico Suffers Another Major Power outage After Transmission Line Failure

The group's goal is to rebuild the island, using regenerative energy, while building local economies, as well as their own food sources. The hurricane was costly for the agriculture industry, wiping out 80 percent of the crops on the island. Prior to the storm, Puerto Rico was importing 85 percent of its food. The prices of imports could rise while local products like coffee and plantains are losses after the hurricane.

"Puerto Rico doesn't need more plastic. Puerto Rico doesn't need more garbage. They've been our dumping ground for decades. What they need is zero waste, renewable energy, and community control of their resources," Adrar said.

RELATED: Over 139,000 Puerto Ricans Have Arrived in Florida Since Hurricane Maria

About 43 percent of Puerto Rico had power recently, but many were left in the dark again Thursday when a main power line that serves the northern half of the island failed. This also meant many people who had running water restored no longer did since pumping stations are powered by electricity.

Local Puerto Rican leaders join the #OurPowerPuertoRico campaign in Miami aboard the Arctic Sunrise Greenpeace ship. They are advocating for a "just recovery" in Puerto Rico. © Provided by NBCU News Group, a division of NBCUniversal Media LLC Local Puerto Rican leaders join the #OurPowerPuertoRico campaign in Miami aboard the Arctic Sunrise Greenpeace ship. They are advocating for a "just recovery" in Puerto Rico. The group is also advocating for the repeal of the Jones Act, which has been around since 1920. The law requires goods shipped from the U.S. mainland to be carried on vessels owned, operated, and built by Americans. Many groups say the policy has slowed the recovery efforts in Puerto Rico, adding costs and efforts to get goods to the island.

The Arctic Sunrise Greenpeace ship, a charter boat where the press conference was held, is loaded with sustainable items like solar generators, water filters, and bikes to send to Puerto Rico. But the vessel won't be able to depart Miami on Monday as planned because the Jones Act does not allow it under its stipulations. Members of the campaign are now renting a charter boat to ship the aid to Puerto Rico.

"There is a very small window to act and convince decision makers to do the right thing," Adrar said.



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