The Open Society Foundations announced a $500,000 investment in Puerto Rico to respond to short-term humanitarian needs on the island driven by the coronavirus while also “making sure that Congress and the Trump administration, as well as local governments in Puerto Rico, recognize the needs of Puerto Ricans during this difficult time.”
The investments will go toward funding frontline community health care workers, giving cash assistance to workers excluded from federal and local economic stimulus packages — such as immigrants and young people in the informal economy — and enabling legal aid to vulnerable communities, so that they can access the benefits afforded by local and federal government.
Additionally, Open Society’s Puerto Rico Project is supporting advocates on the island and in the diaspora to ensure that Puerto Rico is not excluded from any future economic stimulus packages and to put forth progressive economic solutions that can help the island thrive, including a push for the cancellation of the island’s debt.
“With these investments, we are balancing short-term immediate humanitarian needs while continuing to support a long-term vision for change in Puerto Rico,” said Karina Claudio-Betancourt, director of Open Society’s Puerto Rico Project.
“We also are highlighting how Puerto Rico’s problems — its debt crisis, its collapsing economy, its fragile health care system — are rooted in the colonial relationship that the island has with the United States. For Puerto Rico to thrive, we need a process that allows its citizens to determine the island’s political future,” she said.
Earlier this year, the Open Society Foundations also contributed $250,000 to help Puerto Rico recover from a series of earthquakes that began in late December 2019.
In the aftermath of Hurricane María in 2017 and amid Puerto Rico’s financial crisis, the Open Society Foundations have increased their funding in Puerto Rico to strengthen civil society and support groups and individuals working to protect the most vulnerable communities while holding local and federal governments accountable, the nonprofit confirmed.