February 27, 2018; Next City
Philanthropy has taken a variety of approaches to help Puerto Rico as it rebuilds in the wake of Hurricane Maria. Complicating the process is the island’s colonial status, which leaves it economically and politically vulnerable. Many on the mainland do not fully understand that the island is a territory of the United States and its residents are US citizens. So, when the Open Society Foundations announced last week that it would link mayors with experience in disaster relief with those leading the rebuilding and relief efforts in in Puerto Rico, it opened a bridge—a “direct line for aid and consultation on the myriad humanitarian, fiscal and rebuilding challenges ahead.”
Forty mayors are pledged to participate, with New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu sharing the chairing of the group with Puerto Rico mayors Pedro García Figueroa of Hormigueros and Javier Jiménez Pérez of San Sebastián along with Open Society Foundations President Patrick Gaspard. Open Society Foundations has a history of grantmaking in Puerto Rico, with a focus on transparency in governance.
“Strengthening the ties of cooperation and understanding between cities also contributes to the sharing of ideas that brings us closer together,” Figueroa said in a statement.
In the past few months, some of the central questions in the rebuilding of New Orleans and Detroit have been likened to those faced by Puerto Rico, as is mentioned in NPQ’s recent articles on Puerto Rico’s recovery by Cyndi Suarez.—Ruth McCambridge