Press Release

AFT President Randi Weingarten and AMPR President Aida Diaz on New Study of Hurricane-Related Deaths in Puerto Rico

For Release: 

Tuesday, August 28, 2018


Andrew Crook
o: 202-393-8637 | c: 607-280-6603

WASHINGTON—Statement from AFT President Randi Weingarten on George Washington University’s report that 2,975 lost their lives in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria:

“Given the findings from the tragic report released by George Washington University, it is difficult not to conclude that this administration’s response to Hurricane Maria was not just negligent, but malevolent. Hurricane Maria was a terrible natural disaster, but its death toll was worsened by the lack of a quick and adequate government response. The news that nearly 3,000 Puerto Ricans died in the wake of Maria—thousands more than initial estimates—is a sickening reminder that the administration failed its most basic duty: to protect the lives of American citizens.

“This failure was evident to us last year as we shipped and distributed water filters to schools and communities, while FEMA struggled to respond. It was glaringly obvious as our members toiled around the clock with local teachers and parents to clean schools so they could serve as distribution points for aid and makeshift housing for families and students. Children continue to bear the brunt of the federal government’s callousness as they return to damaged schools on unpaved roads almost a year after the hurricane struck.

“We will honor the memory of those who died by demanding the federal government rebuild Puerto Rico to standards we expect as American citizens. And we will make sure the politicians who aided and abetted the administration’s negligence are held accountable in November.”

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico—Statement from Asociación de Maestros de Puerto Rico President Aida Díaz:

“Every Puerto Rican knew that the number of people killed by Hurricane Maria exceeded the official figure provided by the government. Nobody understands the reasons we were misled. It is outrageous that neither the magnitude of what we were suffering nor the meaning of our losses has been understood. And it is a shame that the Donald Trump government has not worked efficiently to provide a dignified response to the emergency we experienced.”


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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.