Some of the aid supplies meant for Puerto Rico never made it to the island because of a rat infestation at the Florida office of Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration, PRFFA, where they were stored.
PRFFA's office in Kissimmee, Florida, contained boxes of supplies to be sent to the island but since it did "not have the budget to finance the shipping costs" of the supplies, per PRFAA’s executive director, Carlos Mercader, the boxes remained.
Over 200,000 Puerto Ricans have left for Florida in the aftermath of the hurricane, according to NBC news.
"Due to the many Puerto Rican families that have been displaced to Florida because of the hurricane, we have donated the meals to Puerto Rican families in need," Mercader said Tuesday in a statement.
"We will soon conduct an inventory of the donations to identify which ones are fit to be given out to Puerto Rican evacuees in Central Florida."
Juan Hernandez Mayoral who directed the office from 2013 to 2017 told the Orlando Sentinel,
"Every day, those employees would go into that office and see those boxes, and they did nothing,” said Hernandez Mayoral, who is a former Puerto Rican senator and is affiliated with the island’s pro-commonwealth party. “As if there was no need on the island. This is government negligence.”
In January, the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, decided to "officially shut off" its operations in Puerto Rico, effectively ending the food and water emergency aid to the island at a time when one-third of the island is still recouping from the catastrophic Hurricane Maria, which left the island dilapidated in September.
San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz denounced the U.S. government's move at a Latino Victory Summit meeting, "There is a need in Puerto Rico, and we ask the president to, for once, do the right thing and not take the aid away from Puerto Rico."
Cruz pointed out that San Juan had given nearly US$20 million to FEMA and received only US$4.9 million.
Puerto Ricans are some of the most heavily taxed U.S. citizens. According to the Orlando Sentinel, between 2013 and 2014, nearly 105 different taxes were raised. For almost two decades, between 1990 and 2009, Puerto Rico paid more taxes than six U.S. states.
According to Puerto Rico Report, during the period, the island paid US$73 billion in taxes, more than states like Wyoming, South Dakota, Montana, Alaska, North Dakota, among others.