January 28, 2023
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The Caribbean prepares for Maria

In the wake of Irma, Hurricane Maria is approaching the Caribbean. Maria seems to be following Irma’s path of destruction and many islands in the Caribbean are still trying to recover with little to no international attention or aid. While places like the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico have been preparing for Maria since the beginning of the week, the United States gave a blind eye to the category four hurricane until Maria began threatening to hit the East Coast.

Most islands that were affected by Irma are under British, French or American control but that does not necessarily mean that they are under their protection. The French government began sending aid to its territories, and President Emmanuel Macron went to some of the islands to assist in handing out supplies. British Prime Minister, Theresa May, has yet to make sufficient efforts in aiding British territories, and the U.S. seemed to forget that more than its mainland was hit: The U.S. had abandoned the U.S. Virgin Islands in their time of need. The United States has been the most active in sending aid into the Caribbean — all places except Cuba.

Many of these islands have no infrastructure to uphold themselves and continue to depend on colonial-like powers to rescue them. Their economies depend on tourism — most people who live on these islands depend on resorts and hotels for work — and with the catastrophic conditions Irma left behind, it’ll be hard to get anyone to come to visit the islands. Many resorts are also in ruins, which means a lot of the population will be out of work soon. Maria will simply backtrack the small steps that have been taken to make sure everyone is safe and with access to basic needs.

Maria could potentially finish destroying the already affected areas, but since the Caribbean is merely a vacation destination to the first world, not a conglomerate of picturesque islands with people and life beyond the walls of all-inclusive resorts, the possibility of people tweeting “Pray for the Caribbean” is really low.

Yes, there has been aid provided in the fanfare of being humanitarian, but in the long term, most of the residents of the islands will go back to fending for themselves soon enough. After Hurricane Georges hit the Dominican Republic in 1998, it was showered in aid by international organizations, but most economic repercussions are still being paid for today.

Maria will hit the Caribbean late this week, most families will be holding on to whatever they have left, and most families will be conscious of the fact that aid will come later rather than sooner and disappear sooner rather than later.

Isabella Grullón Paz can be reached at igrullon@ithaca.edu or via Twitter: @isagp23