Political experts are saying decapitation props could portend a negative reaction from citizens.
In the wake of being rocked by significant earthquakes, this month citizens of Puerto Rico have been frustrated with their government officials. That frustration spiked to outrage this weekend when it was revealed that residents clamoring for aid had discovered a warehouse filled with relief supplies was not being delivered by the government.
Some of those goods had been received from 2017, in the wake of Hurricane Maria. This follows suit with stories reported in the months following the hurricane, of relief aid that had arrived but was sitting dormant at the ports, not being sent into the interior to citizens in need.
As a result, protests against the government have erupted all this week and last night it took a more dramatic turn, as a crowd marched through the streets to erect a guillotine outside the offices of Governor Wanda Vazquez Garced.
Um, the people of Puerto Rico are carrying a guillotine to the Governor’s mansion right now. pic.twitter.com/uAeH1WoLcN
— Joshua Potash (@JoshuaPotash) January 23, 2020
A Puerto Rican guillotine of the resistance flag. Worth noting, Puerto Rico has one of the highest indices of income inequality in the world. Protester tells me that they want to move up elections now to remove the current government. “We gave them a chance, and they struck out.” pic.twitter.com/f4ca0OBoG2
— Arelis R. Hernández (@arelisrhdz) January 23, 2020
Vazquez has become the focus of ire from residents, despite her attempts to show action. When the warehouse discovery was made she quickly made a round of firings, removing the Housing Secretary, their Emergency Management Director, and another official. However, that housing secretary has come forward after his dismissal to state that Vazquez was fully aware of warehoused goods.
This revelation continues to underscore some of the deep issues that Puerto Rico contends with, problems that have long existed on the island well before Donald Trump scapegoating became the form of governance. We were treated to numerous stories of the White House being blamed for lax attention to the territory after the hurricane devastation, but gradually those glaring headlines have given way to the issues that have long predated Trump.
When aid was found going undistributed from the ports some officials were citing the fractured infrastructure and inability to even clear roads in an effective manner. The electrical grid throughout the island has been in need of upgrading for decades, an issue highlighted by the storm and now the earthquakes. But also rampant governmental corruption has been a generational issue, as have progressive economic policies that have crippled the economy on the island.
Conditions have eroded to the extent that an exodus has been taking place well before Maria had sucker-punched the island. Over the past decade so many Puerto Ricans — primarily from the professional and working-class — have migrated that now more residents live on the US mainland than in the territory itself. This has further strained the government as much needed tax revenue has hemorrhaged over the years, so political upheaval seems to be a regular reality. Last year the prior governor was forced to resign, after attempts to rein in the budget with cost-cutting measures, such as pension reforms, angered many.
Now the replacement that voters inserted, Vazquez, is facing a French Revolution-type of uprising once it has been revealed that the needed help for citizens was not being distributed. Some are speculating that this could have been withheld in an attempt to further cast blame on the White House, but whether it is that sort of venal political maneuvering, the corruption typical of the island, or the more innocuous bureaucratic failings, citizens are not likely to be mollified by an explanation.
When guillotines are being constructed outside your offices that pretty much spells out your political future.