Activists Work To ‘Defend Puerto Rico’ After Hurricane Maria

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — FEMA continues to hand out food and water to victims across Puerto Rico, but hundreds of thousands of people were still without water or power on Wednesday.

Experts believe it will take months to restore electricity to the U.S. territory.

The slow recovery has some in the Bay Area taking matters into their own hands.

“We have vitamins and batteries and these lanterns you can charge your cell phones from,” said Eli Jacobs-Fantauzzi, with the group Defend Puerto Rico.

Jacobs-Fantauzzi, an activist filmmaker and Berkeley resident, is packing up to fly to Puerto Rico. His flight leaves Thursday and he’s taking some extra stuff with him.

“Delta Airlines says until Friday we could bring three bags — 100 pounds each — for free to bring humanitarian aid to Puerto Rico,” Jacobs-Fantauzzi said.

Defend Puerto Rico held a rally outside the federal building in Oakland on Wednesday because they believe the federal government has fallen way short when it comes to getting food, water and basic help to their relatives back home.

Tuesday’s visit by the President did not go over well with these expatriates, many of whom have relatives back home in desperate situations.

Justine Lewis with Defend Puerto Rico said, “It just broke my heart. It was just so sad. And humiliating.”

Educator Dr. Cesar Cruz also attend the rally in Oakland.

“That was so disrespectful. In a time of crisis, we need real leadership,” Cruz said. “And we do not need a president who is throwing paper towels at the people. Get your hands dirty. Have some compassion. Mr. President, would you realize that Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens and they deserve the same respect as every other citizen in America?”

The demonstrators say they are trying to do more than just raise awareness about the situation in Puerto Rico, they want the federal government to take some concrete steps.

Jacobs-Fantauzzi said, “We want a complete repeal of the Jones Act and the 60 days for the FEMA deadline is impossible. People are living without electricity. So we need the FEMA deadline to be extended.”

Many donations and supplies are sitting on runways or ports on the island. That is why Jacobs-Fantauzzi says he put out a call for donations. And they are pouring in.

“This is an opportunity for the Bay Area and for the community of Puerto Ricans and supporters to get things into the direct hands of the people who need it most,” Jacobs-Fantauzzi said.

Donations are being accepted Thursday at The Academy school at 2722 Benvenue Ave. in Berkeley.

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