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Disasters in Puerto Rico Webinar Overview

Josue Mendez

On September 24, 2020, the Center for Puerto Rican Studies collaborated with Instituto de Desarrollo Empresarial y Acción Comunitaria (IDEAComún) on an online webinar entitled, "Disasters in Puerto Rico and the Impact on the Diaspora," with the goal of assessing the impact of disasters in Puerto Rico and its stateside communities. Centro's latest publication, "Enduring Disasters: Puerto Rico, Three Years After Hurricane Maria," was discussed heavily during the webinar.

Director of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies Edwin Melendez served as a moderator for the webinar and introduced listeners with a series of questions pertinent to the discussion. These questions tackled the status of Puerto Rico's economic recovery, the island's economic activity index, the gross domestic product growth rate, and the key indicators of recovery. With these issues in mind, the webinar went forward to use Holyoke, Massachusetts as a case study of disaster and climate change migration for stateside Puerto Rican communities. 

Jennifer Hinojosa and Carlos Vargas-Ramos, a Centro Research Associate and Centro's Director of Public Policy respectively, followed Melendez's introduction to present discussions on two of Centro's latest publications. Hinojosa, focusing on information collected in "Enduring Disasters: Puerto Rico, Three Years After Hurricane Maria," presented data detailing the migration numbers of surrounding the exodus of Puerto Ricans to the mainland United States in terms of both volume and duration. Vargas-Ramos, focusing on information collected in "Anticipated Vulnerabilities: Displacement and Migration in the Age of Climate Change," detailed the lessons learned from Holyoke's response to Hurricane Maria through Massachusetts' Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness program.

Following these presentations were commentaries by award-winning journalist and radio host Sandra D. Rodríguez Cotto and founding director of the Puerto Rico Research Hub of University of South Florida Fernando I. Rivera. Cotto emphasized the importance of disaster capitalism as Puerto Rico's main point of concern. Rivera took the time to discuss comparisons between the data collected from Holyoke, MA to the Puerto Rican experience in Florida. 

Below are links regarding several proponents of this webinar as well as recommended pamphlets for audiences to follow along with: