Photos: Philly protesters call for more aid to Puerto Rico

A Center City rally called on the U.S. government to send more hurricane relief to the island.

A member of the nonprofit Voces del Barrio carries a black Puerto Rican flag, often used to represent resistance to U.S. policies.

A member of the nonprofit Voces del Barrio carries a black Puerto Rican flag, often used to represent resistance to U.S. policies.

Angela Gervasi / Billy Penn

Muffy Ashley Torres has spent the past ten days wondering whether her family is safe.

“My heart is broken. In piece,” Torres said at a protest Friday. “It looks like a horror film in Puerto Rico.”

Demonstrators gathered at Thomas Paine Plaza, urging the U.S. government to provide more relief to Puerto Rico after a Category 4 hurricane battered the island last week.

The event was organized by Voces del Barrio, a Philly-based grassroots organization, and Diaspora in Action, a nationwide coalition created in September.

More than 100,000 Puerto Ricans live in Philadelphia, and the connection to the island is strong.

“I think this rally is about feeling for those in diaspora who are desperate, desperate, to help their families and they’re unable to. We are unable to,” said Priscilla Bell, a member of Voces del Barrio, hours before the event.

At the protest, demonstrators stressed the need for hurricane relief. Chants from the protesters tackled a number of issues. Some urged the U.S. government to cut Puerto Rico’s $73 billion debt. Others called for the repeal of the Jones Act.

On Thursday, Trump authorized a waiver to the Jones Act, a law that only allows U.S. goods to be transported on U.S. ships when traveling to different American coasts.

The act’s waiver will allow more supplies to flow to the island— but only for 10 days.

“It’s not enough. Ten days is just not enough for the island to recover,” Bell said. “I mean, everything’s in shambles.”

Here are some of the scenes from the protest:

A sign calls in Spanish for the cancellation of the Jones Act.
Angela Gervasi / Billy Penn
Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, contains about 3.4 million U.S. citizens. A recent USA Today/Suffolk University poll discovered only 47 percent of Americans know that Puerto Ricans are natural-born citizens.
Angela Gervasi / Billy Penn
Kimberly Lamberti-Torres speaks to crowds about the severity of the hurricane's impact. "I see the faces of my people in Puerto Rico, and they're dying," she said at the rally.

Kimberly Lamberti-Torres speaks to crowds about the severity of the hurricane's impact. "I see the faces of my people in Puerto Rico, and they're dying."

Angela Gervasi / Billy Penn
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Angela Gervasi / Billy Penn
PR_Protest_10
Angela Gervasi / Billy Penn
Former city councilman Angel Ortiz speaks at the protest. "My mainland is Puerto Rico," he told demonstrators amidst applause. "Mi patria es Puerto Rico," he added.

Former City Coucilman Angel Ortiz speaks at the protest: "My mainland is Puerto Rico. Mi patria es Puerto Rico."

Angela Gervasi / Billy Penn
Currently, Puerto Rico is in $73 billion of debt to the United States. The territory has closed more than 200 public schools.
Angela Gervasi / Billy Penn
Puerto Rican flags and politically-charged signs adorned Thomas Paine Plaza on Friday at a protest to aid Puerto Rico.
Angela Gervasi / Billy Penn
Jenniffer Gonzales, a resident commissioner in Puerto Rico, predicted that the hurricane "has set us back nearly 20 to 30 years,"
Angela Gervasi / Billy Penn
Supplies are currently docked in San Juan's harbor. But damaged, flooded roads have created an obstacle to distributing the water and food.
Angela Gervasi / Billy Penn
The 2010 U.S. Census estimated more than 120,000 Puerto Ricans live in Philadelphia.
Angela Gervasi / Billy Penn
A demonstrator holds a Puerto Rican flag while watching the rally. Puerto Rico's Center for Investigative Journalism has predicted that the island's death tolls are higher than those officially reported.
Angela Gervasi / Billy Penn
A sign protests militarization in Puerto Rico at a protest at Thomas Paine Plaza on Friday.
Angela Gervasi / Billy Penn

 

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