Latinas: A Social and Cultural Survey

Asynchronous Assignment on Aftershocks of Disaster by Yarimar Bonilla and Juan Carlos Dávila

Asynchronous Online Assignment


Watch the Aftershocks of Disaster Film from Yarimar Bonilla and Juan Carlos Dávila on Vimeo.

Pick ONE of the following assignment options and post your answer in the comment section below:


Yarimar Bonilla and her collaborators argue that “a disaster is not a singular event but always an unfolding process.” Referring to at least two scenes, discuss how Aftershocks of Disaster makes the case for a complex understanding of climate and natural disasters in Puerto Rico. Analyze how US colonialism and governmental neglect (local and federal) are key factors to contextualize the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

(250-words minimum)



Pick ONE of the themes below and discuss how the activists, educators, journalists, and/or artists explain and offer solutions to these specific topics:

.Mental Health/Suicide Prevention (Minutes 1:40-6:20/ 21:25-25:15)

.Accepting and giving consent to colonial and imperial neglect (Minutes 6:20-9:50)

.Narrating the loss (Minutes 9:50-12:25)

.Media and the politics of representation (Minutes 12:25- 17:00)

.Diasporic support/documenting the relief efforts (Minutes 17:00-21:00)

.Creating a future for Puerto Rico/ Queer identities (Minutes 25:15-27:40)

.Food activism/mutual aid/ organizing a sustainable movement (Minutes 27:40-33:15)

(250-words minimum)



Using either your own experience, that of your family or loved ones,  describe how you (or your people) felt the “aftershocks of disaster” in Puerto Rico. Reflect and integrate at least two of the different perspectives presented by the documentary.

(250-words minimum)

37 thoughts on “Asynchronous Assignment on Aftershocks of Disaster by Yarimar Bonilla and Juan Carlos Dávila”

  1. Watching hurricane Maria tear apart la isla del encanto on social media was heartbreaking and scary. When the island lost power, I (like many others) lost contact with family. Depended on media coverage and social media posts for information was a trigger for anxiety. Those who didn’t live on the island felt like they suffered along with those who did. However, one could never measure the weight the aftershocks of Maria left. Maria shook foundations and crumbled homes and almost broke the strong backs of la gente de Puerto Rico.
    Resilience is a word often used to describe those who have persevered through difficult situations. Hay, que fuerte son! get past such conditions. We look upon and highlight the strength of the individual, but we never address the root that makes them have to continuously put up a fight. Patricia Noboa, a professor of psychology at la Universidad de Puerto Rico spoke about the damage associated with the ideals of resilience and independence from assistance. She said that these ideas “promoted a recovery process that begins with oneself”. This gave the government a way to abandon accountability. Instead, they sold dreams to citizens with words of encouragement to imply that “they could do this” “they’ve got this” “Puerto Rico Strong!”. But why should Puerto Rico be left to dry, like un-watered seeds waiting for the rain? As a responsible party, and since the government treats PR is an entity of the U.S., they fail to provide them with the blueprints and resources to overcome the aftershocks.
    This also reminded me of what we have been experiencing locally with COVID and the idea of being “NY STRONG”. But when we ask the government about how we got here, how we proceed, and if we are safe…we get mixed messages and no real solutions. Though the people of Puerto Rico, con el sangre del Taino, are resiliant, strong, and capable, restoring the island without the assistance of the responsible government would not be possible. Giovanni Roberto, founding member of CAM (el Centro de Apoyo Mutuo) said, “we do need government. Maybe not this one, but one that responds to the needs of its people…the government, as it stands, will kill us”. This too resonates with us all currently nationwide. Therefore, I encourage you all to get out and vote. I personally don’t feel comfortable with either party, to be honest. However, like journalist Benjamin Torres Gotay stated about Donald Trump keeping it real with his racist views. His tyranny is an immediate threat to our country. His disregard towards climate change is a threat to the planet. His racist ideals towards people who are not white and/or submissive to his views, is a threat to humanity. I agree, we do need the government, just not this one!
    -Christine M.

  2. #1

    The travesties hurricane Maria caused to Puerto Rico is innumerable, but the government neglecting the needs of its citizens will continue to ricochet. Puerto Rico has endured multiple different natural disasters (Hurricane Maria, earthquakes, and Covid-19) all within a close time frame, and time and time again, we see the government fail to provide Puerto Rican’s with the funds to build stable homes, they fail to provide food, money, medical attention, etc. Patricia Noboa is one of the many individuals who are trying to help Puerto Ricans by providing psychotherapy but even she recognizes that the government is intentionally removing themselves from the dialogue surrounding recovery and is purposefully placing the responsibility of recovery onto its citizens. As someone who is entrenched in psychology, Noboa recognizes that the individual does have a certain amount of responsibility for their own wellbeing, but not all of it. Puerto Ricans are expected to rebuild everything themselves or await aid that may or may not arrive. Those people who do help know that what they are doing is placing a “band-aid” on the issue. Giovanni Roberto is a co-founder of Centro de Apoyo Mutuo (CAM) and they provide food, medical attention, and wellness services to Puerto Ricans. But even he admits that this is an act of “solidarity and survival,” Puerto Ricans need a stable government that prioritizes the needs of its citizens, not one that delays basic services during natural disasters and in this time of the Covid-19 pandemic.
    As people are awaiting aid from their local government as well as aid from the United States, their living situation continues to worsen as the pandemic progresses. Hurricane Maria further worsened the condition of those with chronic illnesses, the septic tanks overflowing allowed the fecal matter to enter open wounds, causing infection and resulting in many people losing their lives from leptospirosis. The earthquakes that followed destroyed the many buildings that were still standing after the hurricane and with the pandemic looming over them, many people were displaced. There were many cases of people committing suicide in order to escape their situation. Understandably, Bonilla believes that “a disaster is not a singular event but always and unfolding process” because as she says later in the video, what the Puerto Ricans are experiencing is yet “another episode in a larger series of repeated trauma.”

  3. Option 2
    Mental health is one of the topics that were treated by the educator psychologist in the video. She talks fundamentally about the great responsibility that is put into the individual to reconstruct and rebuild not only the community infrastructure but also the community mental health. The psychologist expresses her concern with putting the pressure in the individuals instead of providing the space for them to be able to ventilate their feelings. She explains the necessity that there is to express what we feel and not to repress the feelings. It is necessary that after traumatic experiences the people affected finds ways to take out the pain that they have because of the issue. They also talk about suicide when the poet Raquel Salas Rivera that wrote about the desire that some people had to commit suicide after the huracan. They also talk about this issue as a way to relieve pain in terms of the traumatic mixture of feelings associated with the disaster. I think that all these topics are very connected to the state in which Puerto Rico was before the hurricane and how the huracan only reinforced the feelings t6hat the population had had since a long time before. Puerto Rico is certainly a nation that has been historically mistreated by their colonisers which is the United States. This view has been reinforced by the way in which this disaster occurred. This only left a hopeless feeling with in the population that can only be solved managed by destigmatizing mental health and providing the forum to talk about the feelings and fears of the people.

  4. Option 2
    Benjamin Torres Gotay mentions how a Puerto Rican man says “estoy bastante comodo”. This is the mentality of a lot of Puerto Ricans despite many Puerto Rican citizens not having received the help that they needed post Maria. Yet these people that didn’t received the help they needed to survive and bounce back from the damages caused by this hurricane hadn’t complained about not receiving such help. He also mentions how a lot of Puerto Ricans have a hard time criticizing the United States for its neglect towards Puerto Rico and its citizens. A lot of Puerto Ricans are still grateful for the little that they receive from the United States because they believe that if it weren’t for the United States that they wouldn’t have anything. This seems to be rooted in this belief that Puerto Rico is inferior to the United States and that they must depend on them if they want to move forward. The United States have made Puerto Rico feel like they are not adequate enough to rule themselves or even part of the United States thus they have left them as a commonwealth. I think it is important that Puerto Ricans are taught the truth about the United States and that it is not a country that has the best interest of Puerto Ricans in mind. When Puerto Ricans get out of this mindset that the United States is their savior and that Puerto Rico can in fact do better from within then we can move towards positive change for the island.

  5. Mental Health:
    Many people who go through hard times in their lives and have a hard time to keep their mental health stable. Patricia Noboa, a psychology professor establish a legal psychological clinic in Valle hill. She talked about many of these people’s health conditions have gotten worse. People who suffered from diabetes or hypertension their condition got worse. Many people had skin problems, such as ulcers. In October is the worst month for Puerto Rico because water would be up to 15 ft. Some people who had open wounds would get infected because the water would be cover of feces. It was hard for these people living in a place that’s over flood and the government wouldn’t help out. These people would lose hope and commit suicide. Her role was to listen to these people and providing a safe space for these people to fully express themselves. Patricia explains that psychology has to be more critical about what concepts are used to analyze and understand the person’s pain. I found it interesting what Raquel Salas Rivera mentions that people would post on Facebook and it became a journal to many people. These people would post on Facebook about their experience. Facebook was these people’s safe space, where they can fully express themselves. This is a way that people would know-how these people suffered during a hurricane. In the news, not many stories will be shared and we don’t really know what’s going on with these people. Facebook is now a source being used to share people’s stories. This clearly shows how Puerto Rico’s government is corrupted because they don’t help their people in hard moments. These people don’t have enough resources for mental health. Especially in a Hispanic community, in which mental health is something that is not spoken about.

    1. One small clarification: Noboa is describing the flood and the septic problems after Hurricane Maria because of the fragile or collapsing infraestructure. It is not something that happens every October.

  6. Option two:

    Benjamin Torres Gotay talks about accepting and giving consent to colonial and imperial neglect. Torres claims that after asking people how they were coping with the aftermath of the hurricane Maria they said they were “comfortable”. After getting this response from many people, Torres came out with the conclusion that there were people afraid of going against the United States. They did not want to complain against the imperial power. These people did not get the help needed, but they remained silent. Benjamin Torres explained this behavior by some Puerto Ricans by stating that since the beginning of colonization the United States was presented as superior to them. For the United States, Puerto Ricans have always been the brown people that need their help. The U.S. government has the power, therefore their inferiors should not be complaining. As an empire, they give the aid they consider enough and useful. Puerto Ricans do not a voice in those decisions. Yet, they are thankful for whatever they are given; it is better than nothing. People on the island fear losing everything that’s left and going to extreme poverty if the United States doesn’t support them.
    Mr. Torres also says that the United States sees Puerto Rico as inferior because of racism. They use racial categories to separate people from them. Anything and anyone that can’t be put in the “white” category is inferior. In my opinion, Torres’ statement is not a surprise. The United States has a very extended history of racism. People are extremely discriminated against for their race and culture. Sadly, that’s just a normal thing in U.S. territory.

  7. Aftershocks of Disaster explains how the mixture of natural disaster and the lack of empathy coming from the United States puts Puerto Rico in a terrible condition. The scene where Yarimar Bonilla talks to a professor from her alma mater, He talks about how people tend to silence themselves in times of trouble.This is a direct example as to how colonialism and governamental neglect affected Puerto Ricans. They no longer had the confidence to speak out for their needs assuming that it was always going to be ignored. The professor explains that it could be that they are protecting themselves because “why would the US help if they didn’t help during the natural disasters”. It can also be that they feel that they have to deal with the cards that they have been dealt with. A thought that protesting and speaking out is time consuming and won’t lead to any good so they rather use that time and figure out how to survive with the things they have. This idea has been created by the numerous times the US has neglected Puerto Rico. People in areas that have been taken over and let down just give up on fighting at some point and want to just figure out what they have. Puerto Rico has been helping their own communities as much as they can since very little help was given to them by the US. CAM, El Centro de Apoyo Mutuo, is a perfect example of this, a center that started off as a community kitchen has grown into an overall center of health and having multiple locations across Puerto Rico. Due to government neglect, there’s a need for autonomy and self sufficiency. “This is called solidarity and survival” Giovanni Roberto a founder of CAM, states this when explaining that although autonomy sounds empowering, Puerto Rico needs a government. They don’t have that locally or on a greater scale with the US. This documentary does a great job showing how government neglect and natural disasters truly affect areas like Puerto Rico in a way where they resort to autonomy and sometimes silence themselves because they don’t feel like they’ll be heard.

    1. As you identified the practice of demonizing and criminalizing protests and present them as unproductive is a colonial tactic to eliminate popular opposition. By the same token, we see also how the current administration spread the idea of the “unlawful” protests in the US to disregard the call for racial and migrant justice.

  8. Option 3:
    After watching the documentary film, I was heartbroken through all the disasters that occurred in Puerto Rico. Those who didn’t live on the Island had felt like they suffered along with those who did. Puerto Rico had multiple rough challenges throughout the times. We all see the government that had failed to provide Puerto Ricans with the funds to build stable homes; they fail to provide food, money, medical attention, etc. But most people left with the pain but set tougher skins out of the Island. Concerning the aftershocks of the disaster in Puerto Rico, it reminded me about my family, who lived in Haiti, had suffered a massive earthquake back in 2010. Efforts by citizens (including my family) and international aid organizations to provide medical assistance, food, and water to survivors were hampered by the failure of the electric power system, loss of communication lines, and roads blocked with debris.

    Another thing that also reminded me was of what we have been facing the obstacles locally with COVID and the idea of being “NY Tough.” Though the people of Puerto Rico, con el Sangre del Taino, are resilient, healthy, and capable, restoring the Island without the assistance of the responsible government would not be possible. We kept growing amounts of lousy energy and disaster that surrounded us with fear and struggle. Lastly, in the video, Bonilla believes that “a disaster is not a singular event but always and unfolding process.” That statement was accurate to the fact of what Puerto Rico and my family’s country had been through all the years.

    1. Indeed, Celinda, there is a lot of similarities in the way the disasters were managed in Haiti and in Puerto Rico. In both cases, neoliberal interests took advantage of the tragedy as a way to generate a quick profit. Precisely, Bonilla developed the idea of the “aftershock” as a way to connect it to Haiti and other Caribbean nations enduring debt and neo-colonial exploitation.

  9. Option #2

    “Accepting and giving consent to colonial and imperial neglect”

    This was a conversation with journalist and weekly columnist of the newspaper El Nuevo Dia, Benjamin Torres Gotay. He wrote a book which was his experience before and after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, and also featured a recollection of stories from those who lost everything in the terrible event. These same people were awaiting government aid, and that’s where Benjamin’s criticism of the US begins: he states that this government aid would sometimes arrive late, and in some cases, such help wouldn’t arrive at all. Even after literally losing everything they had, they would state how “they were comfortable”, even though some didn’t even have a roof over their head. None of them could muster up the courage to complain about the tardiness of this government assistance or the lack of it in general.

    According to Benjamin, they find it hard to criticize the US, the imperial power. Any little help they get from the US, they are very grateful, because in their minds, they think that without the US they would have nothing at all. In a way, they are protecting themselves and also fearing to reveal that after such a terrible tragedy, the American nation offered little to no help. The journalist claims that since the very start of the US-Puerto Rico connection, those up north have always seen the Puerto Ricans as inferior and will always need the US to protect them, guide them, etc. This is a policy that could be seen as borderline racist. People like Donald Trump aren’t afraid to voice their disdain towards the natives, that they are people unable to govern by themselves and shouldn’t even be part of the American government, which does sound pretty cruel when you think about it.

    For now, we’ll have to live with the fact that Puerto Rico isn’t really that welcomed by the US, and hopefully, the next President (If we’ll have one, to begin with), can smoothen the relationship between the two countries.

  10. Option 2
    Narrating the loss
    After difficult times, whether it is war, natural disasters, or financial crisis one of the most important parts on moving on is not being stuck on those moments of suffering, but having documented these moments and having sort of a picture regarding what has happened during those times plays an important role on understanding the hardships that people went through and also helps tackling certain challenges with a better understanding. I find the notebook now almost destroyed to be very fascinating, i myself carry a little notebook where i write down different aspects of my life that affect me or shape my life in different contexts. Whether it is a person, a group, or even nature itself. Not only was she able to record the different ways this natural disaster affected the cities or villages and their infrastructure, but also people. How no matter the circumstances people always tried to offer their help and whatever they could to help one another in that difficult time, even though most of the times it seemed to be insufficient. As she says and i agree, it is important to remember the things that happened, what people were saying because that will play an essential role in the future because there is information that can be gained from those notes. It is not easy to be able to keep notes and register everything happening and such difficult times, that is why just like Bonilla i find the dedication of Sofia to be very interesting and inspiring.

  11. Option 2 – Mental Health/Suicide Prevention
    – Patricia Noboa, a psychology professor at the University of Puerto Rico, established a legal and psychological clinic in a community center located in the town of Canovanas, San Isidoro, after visiting the community with a medical brigade in the wake of hurricane Maria. In her interview scene in the film, she describes the plurality of medical conditions that she had to deal with, especially during the immediate aftermath of the hurricane, but also goes on to discuss deep psychological trauma and even suicides that she witnessed on a regular basis in the aftermath of the disaster. Noboa speaks about how all this suffering that she saw in her and her team’s attempts to provide aid was overwhelming for them. She decided as a psychological health professional, her job was specifically to listen to the problems of the victims and provide an open space for people affected by the disaster to articulate their problems, where people can listen to the suffering of the victims, which in and of itself, in small part, helped alleviate some of that suffering. For Noboa, it was specifically important to sit in a “listening space” where people could sit and tell their stories. She goes on to read a direct quote from her piece in the book – “As psychoanalysis opens a space for human beings to calm their anguish through words, it also makes it possible for another person to respectfully listen without giving a diagnosis or prescribing anything.” Another large point that Nogoa makes in her interview is that much of the detrement caused to people’s mental health in the wake of the disaster has a lot to do with government-created hegemonic discourses which promotes individual responsibility even in the wake of an uncontrollable event like a natural disaster, and in doing so attempts to (immorally and unethically) demote the idea of institutional and governmental responsibility for the well-being of the victims.s

  12. Option 2—Colonial and Imperial Neglect

    Benjamin Torres Gotay, a seasoned journalist, discusses colonial and imperial neglect and how Puerto Ricans have grown to accept that this is okay. While talking to Yarimar Bonilla, Mr. Torres reads an excerpt from a book about a man living in unpleasant conditions. The man from the excerpt had a son and mother to take care of however, he always gave the same answer, that he felt comfortable. That man felt comfortable even though he did not know if he would get help from the authorities. Mr. Torres explains that this is the case for many Puerto Ricans because they have been made to believe that any help they get from the United States is enough. Mr. Torres mentions that getting “crumbs” is seen as enough help, and for this reason, Puerto Ricans do not demand more. Racism and inferiority play a role in this issue because the United States views Puerto Ricans as second-class citizens. For this reason, they are not inclined to provide full help to the people living on the island.
    It is unfortunate that the United States has not been of much help to Puerto Rico post-hurricane Maria. Being perceived as the superior nation, the United States is seen as the savior to provide aid for their territories when they are in need of help. However, in the documentary, it was explained that Puerto Ricans had to take matters into their own hands. There was no help from FEMA, so Puerto Ricans had to organize community support programs to help others.

  13. Option two – Mental Health/Suicide Prevention

    I personally was very emotional hearing Raquel Sala Rivera read her poem about a friend thinking of committing suicide due to the after math of Hurricane Maria. Although Hurricane Maria devasted Puerto Rico it wasn’t only the act of Hurricane Maria that left Puerto Rico in ruins. This natural disaster uncovered the fragile conditions the government and the US had left it to be. In the beginning of the movie, Patricia Noba explains the conditions the people in Puerto Rico were in after the aftermath. Many were found in horrible conditions and with even worse health issues. Noba clearly explains that the flooding the hurricanes brought to Puerto Rico created the water to be dirty. So those who had open wounds were easily infected. Many died and others took their lives because of the horrible conditions they found themselves in. Patrica Noba mentions something extremely important in the documentary about the government. How the government took itself out of the equation and made the people believe and strive to find solutions on their owns. Leaving no responsibility on the government when the government itself should have provided ultimate support to its people. Certainly, proving that the current government they were in was not working out. I strongly do believe that everyone, not just Puerto Ricans, should force the government to do more, much more on behalf of Puerto Rico. The government left the people of Puerto Rico in the horrible conditions not the natural disasters they suffered. They should take accountability on it.

  14. The initial shock on the aftermath of disasters have crucial impact on the lives and mental state of victims. In places like Puerto Rico, natural disasters are bound to happen, and, in some cases, septic tanks can collapse impacting the homes and community with 15 feet of liquid waste of water. Victims with chronic conditions such as diabetes, ulcers, hypertensions and skin disease are faced with severe infections that lead to death from the toxins of the overflow waste and others take further actions and commit suicide due to the unfortunate circumstances. Activists in Puerto Rico have established legal and psychological clinics to aid communities in order to understand and analyze the distress people are faced with due to the aftermath’s disasters. Psychologist in clinics promotes recovery process for victims that deal with their suffering alone in order to be seen and heard from their experiences in communities. These centers create a safe space for people to express their stories and calm their anguish through words. Moreover, the clinical centers in communities also make it possible for those to listen respectfully to others without being diagnosed or prescribe a prescription. In addition, poets like activist Salas Rivera show empathy and compassion for people in Puerto Rico that are hurting or want to commit suicide. Poetry in cases like Salas Rivera’s friend that wanted to commit suicide can help raise awareness about mental health and gives a voice to those that are experiencing difficult times to be feel heard, seen, and understood.

  15. Option 2
    Correct representation is very important because it allows people to develop their perspectives on a situation based on what is being shown to them. When it comes to media and the politics of representation with such an impactful disaster like Maria, journalists definitely agree that the best people to showcase what happened is Puerto Ricans themselves. This is very important because although outsiders can still provide quality and truthful content of the disaster, it is most impactful when the people who can identify with it portray what it has done to their county. Not only is it most impactful, it is also empowering to see the people affected by it speak on it through film. This allows outsiders to see an authentic view on an event that could have been portrayed in the wrong way if not done by the right individuals. Journalists in the film bring up the discussion on the ethics of photojournalism and when it is necessary to step back in moments when people are suffering. It takes a certain type of journalist to understand the situation and not be selfish enough to have a camera in the face of someone who has just lost it all. Different people can portray the situation as a country where people are needy rather than highlight the importance of the resources those people have yet to receive. With one picture you can show the vulnerability of the people and how hopeful they are for change as well as how they have been able to endure those circumstances. That type of image is able to be captured by someone who understands the situation and is not just doing it to exploit people in times of suffering.

  16. Option two – Media and The Politics of Representation

    The theme that I chose was media and the politics of representation. While watching this part of the video it highlighted the difficult choice of capturing the effects and disasters of a post natural disaster hit town on the island of Puerto Rico. One account of this theme comes from Sofía Gallisá Muriente how in the aftermath of hurricane Maria it became difficult for her to take images of what she had seen and posed rather than to take images of what she saw instead write anecdotes of what she saw. The same could not be said for Erika Rodríguez who picked up her camera from day one. Rodríguez saw it as her responsibility to archive what had happened and the effects of the disaster in Puerto Rico. Towards the end of the interview she brings up the debated topic of as a journalist/photographer should you record everything you see because of the reality of what is happening. She sees it as a way of exploitation of the people in disaster contexts, where these photos all that is seen is pain and suffering, she feels as this doesn’t tell the whole story and is dehumanizing to the people being documented, which is why she tried to capture these moments while remaining ethical and careful not to captures moments where it made the people and the island of Puerto Rico seem as “It’s Puerto Rico, the island of brown people who need help.” In my opinion I find Rodríguez’s solution a perfect middle ground as it helps to capture that the people of Puerto Rico need help especially from its local and national leaders while also maintaining the people’s pride, courage and strength as though even if these people are knocked down they are still gonna get up and fight.

  17. Option 2
    After hurricane Maria, the people of Puerto Rico were left with no homes, no food and little to no aid from the government. A large help to these problems were community centers that were built by activists around different cities and towns. These centers were able to assists those in urgent need of aid. Food and beverages were given out along with the setting up of refugee homes for people to sleep in. This helps the communities be self-sufficient for the time being, while waiting for aid from the government if it even comes. They are all learning what needs to be done as times change. These activists believe that all the community centers need to join together and talk to help change what is going on. The government is corrupt as it watches its people suffer in the streets with little aid. The goal of the conjoining of these centers isn’t to get rid of the government, because government is needed, but to help change it. All these people together have a large voice that is needed to change the government for the better. Through these tough times the sustainable centers and movement that it has created helped he people of Puerto Rico gain self-empowerment, community care, and the resilience to care and change their beautiful country for the better.

  18. on 1

    Hurricane Maria has been a huge disaster for people. The social problems that arise with the disaster that cannot ignored. For example, the destruction of infrastructure requires a large amount of government funding. It has become a back garden for Americans, an inexpensive island resort island. America is not Puerto Rico’s savior. It is just a tool for western capitalism to extract the world’s wealth, and it needs no justification to abandon it. Bonilla also explains how the expansion of capitalism is causing environmental damage and a climate crisis.

    In the article, Yarimar Bonilla mentioned that “Maria, and the scandals that followed, revealed the callousness of local politicians, the extent of their corruption, and how they placed their personal and financial interests above the public good.” This is an excellent example. We can see from the current election that both Trump and Biden are actively courting Florida voters. Puerto Rico is a self-governing State of the United States,but the people of the island did not have the same rights as ordinary American citizens. Many of the islanders have moved to Florida. Florida is now one of the biggest swing states. This year, President Donald Trump even gave Puerto Rico $13 billion to rebuild. As we all know from this example, politicians don’t spend as much money after disasters during elections.
    In the end, we can realize that maybe people’s protests don’t make much difference, but we know that the problem is still there, it’s a problem, and it needs to be solved.

    1. Your analysis of how politicians are appealing to Puerto Ricans and the Puerto Rican diaspora, especially in Florida is on point. One important clarification: Puerto Rico is not a state of the US but a territory.

  19. Option two- Creating a future in Puerto Rico? Queer Identities

    In this segment the writer speaks about their experience as a Queer person figuring out how to connect with women or form relationships. The talk about how the queer community has always invented things as they have gone because there is no set guide for how to be queer and make a family or have relationships. They spoke on this to connect it to the future of Puerto Rico. Colonialism has left Puerto Rico with no guide for how to come together as a country and have solidarity within. The writer goes on to speak on how although they have no guide Puerto Ricans continue to try new things and invent new ways to understand society. Although at times this might not work out to their advantage and it doesn’t always go well many times it is beautiful and allows for solidarity. This has been seen many times through Puerto Rico’s history and a prime example is when the people were able to take to the streets in protest and get their corrupt government officials to resign. This sort of resilience and solidarity is what Puerto Rico is about and why they will prosper in the future.

  20. #2: Mental Health/ Suicide Prevention
    Patricia Noboa from the University of Puerto spoke about how rebuilding her community was not only tasked with the actual infrastructure but also providing medical and mental health resources. She spoke about San Isidoro, a community that was abandoned by the local government. There were chronic health effects after Hurricane Maria. In October, right after the disaster, the sewers overflowed causing the drainage to spill out onto the streets. This caused chronic conditions to become worse and caused skin ulcers in open wounds. These caused an increase in the need for medical attention. Jointly, the number of suicides increased. Showing that the Hurricane and the effects it had on the community were overwhelming. Noboa created a “talking space” which was meant to help people by not trying to tell them what to do or try to diagnose them, but rather just offer them a space where they were able to speak unrestrictedly about their sorrows and worries. She goes on to explain how these people had lost everything, yet the government still promoted individual therapy. Instead of providing funding to the recovery process after the Hurricane to help alleviate the damage, they voided responsibility by stating that individuals had the power themselves and through phrases like “You can do it!”. These put the suffering strain on the person and then the responsibility of recovering from the suffering on them, too.

  21. Option 1
    The solutions offered in Aftershocks of Disaster for mental health and suicide prevention during the heartbreaking and fearful times after Hurricane Maria is first mentioned by Patricia Noboa, a psychology professor at the University of Puerto Rico. She presents a space created in a clinic in the Valle Hill community that is simply a time and place for being to discuss their concerns and feelings. She discusses how many suffered from their illnesses as well as suffered from their mental health and how listening to their struggles rather than focusing on getting a diagnosis. This not only allows for respect from the listener to be given to the speaker but gives the speaker a calm space to speak aloud their worries and stories. Noboa also presents the idea that human beings should not be completely responsible for their struggles and that the government should also take responsibility. She clarifies that while independence is important for the individual, the government that is promoting this type of recovery process would be more focused on taking the blame and burden from themselves. Raquel Salas Rivera introduces a poem he wrote to a friend who was contemplating suicide and discusses how it would be difficult to understand what the people in Puerto Rico are going through and comfort them. The poem he presented them provided support and understanding not only to his friend but to the many people on the island suffering these difficult times. Rivera also mentioned how social media allows people to talk about their experiences while they are happening and this gives them the resources to connect to others and receive help.

  22. University of Puerto Rico psychology professor Patricia Noboa’s effort to create a safe environment where Puerto Rican victims of Hurricane Maria can gather symbolizes the selfless contributions leaders like her organize for those overwhelmed by the aftershocks of catastrophes occuring before and after Hurricane Maria. The word that impacted me the most from her interview with Yarima Bonilla was ”abrumados,” the Spanish word meaning overwhelmed, that helps one outside of Puerto-rico empathize with the destructive effects of those aftershocks to those affected. The reason I noted this specific word down is because
    feeling ”abrumado” is just one of the many physiological aftershocks that come with these catastrophes. Noboa mentions the scary number of suicides that occur from the destruction that resulted from Hurricane Maria and years of neglect from the United States. The reason for all these mental health issues, as Yarimar Bonilla explains, come in large part from the lingering effects of coloniality due of the lack of attention, lack of resources, and corruption caused by the United States that play a part in the destruction of the psyche’s of the Puerto Rican people. Witnessing all these catastrophes that are left unsolved forces victims to their breaking points, but on the bright side have helped opened the door for community gatherings to take place as an effect of it. Noboa says that listening can be a great outlet for those suffering from psychological trauma, pushing the idea of strength in numbers. She says that the narrative of society expecting one to resolve their mental health issues on their own rather than asking for help doesn’t comfort the person who is victim of trauma, but rather adds more stress to their ongoing trauma. By being there to support someone fighting mental health problems, one is facilitating their recovery and helping to get rid of this stigma that one has to get through it alone. I think this even symbolizes a greater overall idea that coloniality and blatant racism by America towards Puerto Ricans as a whole, can be solved by a collective effort from Latinx leaders who are willing to come together and create impactful solutions such as Noboa’s communication group that took place in Jannette Lozada’s home in San Isidoro.

  23. Option 2:
    In the film, mental health and suicide prevention was an important subject. Because of the unhealthy and unsanitary living conditions, many people get sick not only physically but also mentally. And one solution to this problem was to listen to the people’s hardships and sufferings. They created something called a “listening space” where they held a space where people would share their stories. It is necessary for a space like this to be open because it is important to express the feelings and not repress it. This also connects to poet Raquel Salas Rivera’s discovery of people posting their stories on Facebook. Facebook acts as the virtual “listening space” where people can freely express their feelings. This is necessary because most of the time people just need a place where they can let out their negativity. Like Rivera’s friend who posts suicide intentions on Facebook doesn’t actually want to kill herself but all she wants was to let out that negativity and receive some comfort. If she actually wants to suicide, she won’t connect herself with other people at that moment.

    1. Sadly, suicide numbers in Puerto Rico rose alarmingly in the aftermath of the Hurricane. It was a very recurrent and real problem for people on the archipelago. Suicide line calls increased as well. Beyond looking for some comfort, many people were crying for help in literal ways.

  24. Yarimar Bonilla and her collaborators wanted to show that “a disaster is not a singular event but always an unfolding process” through this film to bring an understanding that in Puerto Rico up to today they still are rebuilding and helping citizens. The film showed us Puerto Ricans’ personal experiences and opinions with how the aftermath was handled within the people and the government. There was so much destruction and fatalities, it is traumatizing and heartbreaking that this natural disaster caused damage in such a physically and psychologically way. A scene that was heartbreaking was within the town sociologists assembled clinical therapeutic meetings to go over and talk through the aftermath to give mental support to everyone. It has been so long for the people to bring out their emotions and say what everyone is feeling from loss or sadness. The second scene was when Benjamin Torres Gotay was sat down and discussed on his writing based on the Hurricane Maria recovery for him and those around him. He went into details about the way Puerto Rico is looked and treated differently to the U.S government that has affected any financial relief program meant to be sent to Puerto Rico. He spoke about even President Trump has said he sees the people of PR yet did nothing urgent during the natural disaster recovery. This led to more racial discrimination to the Puerto Rican community not only from U.S citizens, but from the government itself. It was a key factor because it led to the corruption of PR’s government and protests fighting for their main rights. It resulted in the Puerto Rican governor to be overthrown; the main priority now is continue recovering from the aftermath rebuilding and growing a healthy, secure, and strong community.

  25. Mental Health/ Suicide Prevention
    Hurricane Maria caused mass destruction in Puerto Rico. The people on the island were already poor, and the devastation caused more damage to their property, which was not enough to sustain them. The federal government did not respond in time, which negatively affected the residents, especially without food and shelter (Bonilla 00:07). Houses were flooded, and plants were destroyed. The film reflects on the people’s psychological aspect in Puerto Rico and how the activists, journalists, educators, and artists offer solutions to such a disaster.
    The film explains how journalists were concerned about the pictures that they took. They ensured that the images were clean and did not provoke the residents. Some photos in such a disaster could not be taken by a professional camera, according to Sofia Gallisa, a visual artist (Bonilla 00:10). According to her, the images could have affected the residents negatively and would be a reminder of something negative and would affect their mental health or even cause suicide. On the other hand, Erica Rodriguez, a journalist, explained that as a journalist had a responsibility to avoid capturing an image of hopelessness (Bonilla, 00:14). This helped so much in encouraging the residents that there is hope which would help prevent suicidal mindsets from such disasters.
    Educators also played a significant role in ensuring that the residents were safe and in the right mental state. Patricia Noboa, a psychology professor, had a legal, psychological clinic in which Maria’s victims would express their pain (Bonilla 00:02). She would stay and listen to them without diagnosing their condition due to many of the victims committing suicide. Listening to the victims helped ensure they say whatever is hurting them, thus giving them a clear mind. Mental illness is prevalent in such disasters, and the people were to remain healthy to have a chance to live and help each other out of the situation.

  26. When I first saw the disaster happening in Puerto Rico I was devastated, my homeland where I was born and raised again had to go through something so horrible. What concerned me the most was the little help I knew they were gonna get. As we have seen in the past, what the United States has done for Puerto Rico which is nothing. So when seeing the disaster I was preparing for the amount of lives that will be lost when they go in the process of healing and getting back on their feet. When watching the video A psychologist by the name Patricia Noboa who is a professor and who also built a medical clinic in San Isidoros in the town called Canovanas. She spoke about the health conditions of the people stating that they were “chronic” and getting worse peoples skin conditions were bad, many people had ulcers all around. Furthermore she speaks about when she first arrived at the land in October and saw all these people were in 15 feet of septic water. Meaning that everyone was walking in their own waste and the wounds and ulcers that they had on their skins were all getting infected. All these people who got infected and couldn’t receive the proper care died or even took their own lives because they could not deal with what was happening. Now this leaves the question as to why these people are struggling so much? Puerto Rico is owned by the United States, people who live in Puerto Rico are considered citizens. Yet they do nothing to help them, a country with so much money and can’t provide for the people that they colonized. The little action the government of the United states takes to help Puerto shows their neglect to this island.

  27. #2

    The treatment of Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories by the U.S. government has always been different than its relationship with its states. It’s ironic because the founding fathers famously said the words “no taxation without representation” which then led to the revolutionary war. Puerto Rico and other territories do not have a senator to represent them, nor do they have the ability to vote for president. This means that fundamentally the relationship of the U.S. and Puerto Rico is one of indifference on the U.S.’s side. They cannot vote for president and don’t have a Congressperson, so, therefore, have much influence than actual states. In other U.S. territories, this is alright, because many U.S. territories simply make up small uninhabited islands or military bases with no permanent habitation. Puerto Rico however is the largest territory with the biggest population. With a population of 3 million, Puerto Rico has a larger population than many states. As Benjamin Torrez Gotay points out, the consequences of this unequal relationship are clear. The U.S. doesn’t see it as a priority to help out the island territory because there is little to be gained because Puerto Rico’s voting rights are so limited. As a result upon seeing promised aid not arriving, native Puerto Ricans have been trying to help out their own communities and doing what they can to get by. As Benjamin also points out people are unable to express their pain because they still see that the Americans do give “crumbs” to Puerto Rico and because of that they are thankful for the extremely limited aid they receive compared to other states. This inability to show their grievances goes on to give an excuse to the local and federal government to not give Puerto Rico the necessary help it needs and deserves.

  28. Option 1:

    I would like to begin by stating, that the failure of the United States and local and municipal government agencies in handling the aftermath of Hurricane Maria is not only sickening, but exposes the underlying issues that surround Puerto Rico and their imprisonment by America through colonial rule. Yarimar Bonilla’s, “The Aftershocks of Disaster Film” expose the reality and issues that Puerto Rico and its citizens have faced throughout history; specifically hurricane Maria and its repercussions throughout the Island. In the beginning, we are introduced to a community in Valle Hill, San Isidro, where a community organizer Jossie and Patrica Nobada a psychology professor, who was part of a medical brigade that had went to communities like Valle Hill, who have seen the devastating aftershocks of hurricane Maria. We see the lack of health care, government intervention and funding to these communities and town across Puerto Rico. Instead we see citizens take action in their communities to help each other and even with the lack of resources they have kept pushing to do what they can. Hurricane Maria and the aftershocks of natural disasters like the earth quakes, made it even harder for rehabilitation and recovery from what they’ve just experienced. Mental health of Puerto Rican’s across the Island have suffered, loses of homes, schools, electricity for more than a year, family members and those in hospitals; the elderly who died because of the lack of a response of aid to Puerto Rico from the U.S. and the world. We know that the government in Puerto Rico has done absolutely nothing to help their citizens, and instead left them to fend and survive on their own. The government of Puerto Rico and Trump’s Administration have withheld aid, let innocent people suffer and die. We now realize the way in which The U.S. and Puerto Rican government, do view Puerto Ricans as anything but second class citizens who don’t deserve aid or help. Which takes me to another scene where Giovanni Roberto states that “the government wants to kill us.” This quote and scene had stuck with me, because it is not only true, but factual, when you see the lack of accountability of the local government and how the U.S. had withheld and still withholding till this day, federal funding and resources to help the people of Puerto Rico. The effects of colonialism and climate change have brought the Puerto Rican people to a state of constant suffering. The aftershocks of Maria and the natural disasters that have been occurring more frequently have exacerbated the underlying issues that Puerto Ricans faces throughout history. Those who have been protesting need to understand that America will never see them as equals and are trying to kill them. The U.S. has used our people as soldiers and have us fighting their wars, but can not give us the equal opportunities to vote or become a sovereign state. So, we must start a movement of independence and install a government in Puerto Rico, that has holds the peoples interests and problems as a top priority and not be a puppet figure that does nothing for the United States. Revolution is evolution, and it is time to fight for our independence through a strong and unified coalition.

  29. Option 1
    Puerto Rico Hurricane Maria not only affected people health and emotion but open questions regarding United State role on assisting the Island. At the beginning of the video an man said in Spanish “some people are angry with the United States for not helping other are thankful for their little help” I was confused by his statement but after watching the video and seen the little help or what I would call charity these people were receiving after a major disaster and been part of America I think he was just hopeless. United State did not implement a rapid response to help the island and media was not showing everything that was happening. One of the speakers mentioned, that at some point people were swimming on water that have been contaminated with human poop, I never saw this on regular news. The pictures of Erika that showed the empty supermarkets that portray the hunger these people were facing apart of loosing their homes, showed the crisis the island was suffering. Seen the video of people taking mental health on those inadequate places because their health worsen after Maria is sad and disappointed. In Puerto Rico people-activist were moving to help but like they said they faced colonialism they did not know how to face it but little by little they learned to united themselves and work to raise money and support to help their Island. Each speaker had hope in their words but pointed that the island is not constructed for this type of disaster, one of them said “we should not give food to people after the disaster but help them build to face this by creating a stronger structure” which I strongly agree after seeing all these houses destroyed and probably took years of work.
    To conclude Puerto Rico is not properly design political or structural to face natural disaster although is an Island that has potential risks of suffering them each year and regarding of them been part of the United State for so long, when this things happens they seem to just be with no government.

    1. The journalist Peréz Gotay is also saying that some Puerto Ricans feel that they should not criticizes the US because it will affect the possibility of Puerto Rico becoming a state of the US. Colonialism has also created an inferiority complex. Under it, Puerto Ricans feel undeserving. It’s important to clarify that not everybody in Puerto Rico desires to be a state of the United States, although disperse the pro-independence movement is very active on the island as well as some who still believe in the possibilities of developing a stronger commonwealth.

  30. Hearing and watching the disasters that Puerto Rico been through has been heartbreaking. Heartbreaking for those who live on island and for those who are far away from their families when these occurred. Puerto Rico has been through a lot of hurricanes that made destruction of their homes, no food, water or light. The United States haven’t tried to help them out or send help their way. People have lost their families because of the destruction and so many people lost so much more than a family member due to this. It breaks my heart that countries and nations are getting destroyed and there is no help at all. People have to find a way on their own to fix what’s going on. There needs to be change when it comes to situations like these because there are people in need of food, water, light, etc. No one really knows how it feels until a person experience it.

    My family and I had experience an earthquake in Guatemala and it didn’t destroy where we were at but another part in which my aunt lived in. My aunt was heartbroken for the fact that she lost her home and the government didn’t help at all. We tried our best to help those who didn’t have, whether it was clothes, water, food, anything that we had, we gave. It broke my heart because these people are already struggling as it is and losing a home and other essentials that is hard to get, made me realize it is not easy being in their shoes. It also made me realize there needs to be more engagement of providing these countries what they need.

  31. Option 1:
    Yarimar Bonilla and her collaborators argue that “a disaster is not a singular event but always an unfolding process.” Which refers to at least two scenes of Aftershocks of Disaster. They make the case for a complex understanding of the climate and natural disasters in Puerto Rico and recognize that US colonialism and governmental neglect (local and federal) are key factors to contextualize the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.
    Puerto Rico has endured multiple different natural disasters (Hurricane Maria, earthquakes, and Covid-19 we see the government fail to provide the people of Puerto Rico with assistance whether that be financially, medically, mentally along with depriving those access to food, shelter the list goes on. Patricia Noboa was presented as someone who is trying to provide service to Puerto Ricans who need help by providing psychotherapy she herself (along with others volunteering) recognize that the government is purposefully ignoring people who suffering from the what we believe to only be natural disasters but spiral into other problems that intersect. We have a Government of people who take positions to help, protect and stand by their people in times of hardship, but when the people who need help the most are ignored, acts of violence are committed by Government officials because they refuse to do the job they were sworn in to do. Every day, Puerto Ricans put their trust and faith in the system that had been built to hurt them and in result of that, people die from the lack of care in democracy. Puerto Ricans need and deserve a government that prioritizes their people. They deserve

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