Angry Puerto Ricans take to the streets after discovery of unused hurricane aid

“Where is Wanda? She’s not here. She’s busy hiding disaster supplies!”

Fury over the government’s mishandling of disaster aid following a spate of devastating earthquakes earlier this month, coupled with the recent discovery of unused supplies — some dating back to Hurricane Maria — is driving frustrated demonstrators to the gates of the governor’s mansion. 

Fed up with what they say is rampant corruption, they are demanding the resignation of Gov. Wanda Vázquez, who just months ago served as the island’s Justice Secretary.

Though the demonstrations remained modest, the angry protests, chants and posts on social media resembled the early demonstrations last summer that ultimately ousted the former governor, Ricardo A. Rosselló.

Those protests had been ignited by the leak of a private group chat in which the governor and his closest advisers mocked ordinary Puerto Ricans. But the fury quickly came to take in broader discontent over corruption, economic austerity measures and mismanagement, especially over the botched government response to Hurricane Maria, which killed an estimated 3,000 people.

After Maria, a series of incidents pointed to incompetence in the handling of emergency aid. Trailers full of food, water and baby supplies that had been donated for hurricane victims were found left to rot at a government office nearly a year after the storm. By that time, they had become infested by rats. Thousands of unused cases of bottled water laid to waste for months on an unused runway. Donations compiled in Florida rotted away because the Puerto Rican government did not have money to ship them to the island.

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