IsraAID’s Work in Puerto Rico

This year Israel is the only fully-participating foreign country in the annual SOMOS conference for Hispanic leaders of New York.

As part of the conference, Israel’s Consulate General in New York has organized for over 60 participants to tour two specific IsraAID projects in Puerto Rico, as the island continues to recover from Hurricane Maria: the new gravitational sand water filtration system in Barrio Real, and the donation of medical supplies at a school in Caguas.

One year after Hurricane Maria swept across the Caribbean, the Israeli humanitarian aid organization IsraAID, which was one of the earliest international responders to the disaster, has renewed its commitment to the region. In Puerto Rico, where the official number of fatalities was recently raised from 64 to 2,975, IsraAID’s team is working with local partners to provide safe water and develop community resilience. Many of the island’s residents are still without electricity or safe water.

IsraAID’s emergency response team touched down in Puerto Rico in September 2017, only a few days after Hurricane Maria made landfall. The NGO has had a team on the island ever since, providing WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) solutions, emergency medical care, and mental health support. During the initial emergency response phase, IsraAID distributed water filters for 6,000 people in six remote communities, operated six mobile medical clinics, treating hundreds of people from some of Puerto Rico’s most deprived communities in nine different areas, provided direct mental health support in six shelters, and trained the staff of two hospitals in using expressive arts techniques to respond to trauma. Since the initial emergency response phase, IsraAID’s team on-the-ground has focused on developing long-term programs to help accompany Puerto Ricans on the journey towards recovery and a sustainable future.

In early October 2018, IsraAID and the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico will complete construction of a new gravitational sand water filtration system in Barrio Real, a small, rural community, which is not served by the island’s water system. After Hurricane Maria destroyed the community’s main water source, Barrio Real’s residents were left with no access to safe water. It took seven days for bottled water to reach the remote mountain village, during which time only unsafe river water was available. IsraAID distributed temporary household water filters in the initial weeks after the hurricane.

A year later, the residents of Barrio Real are still without a permanent, communal supply of safe water. The new filtration system does not require electricity, ensuring that it can continue to provide a sustainable source of safe water for future generations. Volunteers from San Juan’s Jewish community have been trained by IsraAID to provide door-to-door workshops on safe water and hygiene to the residents of Barrio Real, ensuring that the new water system will be fully utilized. Every currently occupied household has been reached.

The psychological and social effects of the hurricane are still being felt across the island. The recently announced increase in Maria’s death toll is a stark reminder of the disaster’s long-term impact. Since arriving in Puerto Rico, IsraAID’s team has utilized the organization’s long-held expertise in mental health and psychological support to strengthen the island’s capacity to cope with the crisis. As part of its long-term programming, IsraAID’s has partnered with ASPIRA, a local organization providing alternative schooling for 3,400 at-risk young people across the island. IsraAID’s psychosocial support specialists are training ASPIRA’s teachers in how to build their students’ resilience and provide post-trauma support as they recover from the devastation of Hurricane Maria.

Another Off-Shore Victory For The Off-Shore Banker


This Saturday, Republicans voted again in Missouri’s caucus. The Republicans already had a primary there on February 7 and Santorum won every county across the state. Most Caucuses feature two events. A Presidential preference vote where people select the candidate of their choice, and a second vote in which each voters select one of their neighbors to represent them at the County level. The first vote is the vote which everyone talks about on TV, but it is the second vote that actually counts. Everything boils down to delegates. The networks guess the delegate counts will be similar to the Presidential preference vote, but that is unclear. It depends on whose supporters actually stay to the end of the meeting  for that final vote, and it depends on how the county convention goes one or two months later.

Missouri is unique in that the Presidential preference vote did not occur yesterday on caucus night but occurred rather last month. Romney belittled Santorum’s victory at that time saying that no delegates were at stake, but the contest yesterday was impossible for the major networks to clearly report on, so they basically ignored it.

Missouri allows each county to set its own rules. The resulting confusion led to turmoil at several sites. In St. Charles County, the caucus was cancelled and a Ron Paul supporter was arrested amid disputes over the rules. See video above.

The moral is that estimating delegate counts is premature before the dust settles and the county and district conventions play out.

Puerto Rico
Today, Romney scored an impressive victory in Puerto Rico hitting the 50% threshold necessary to lock up all 20 delegates for himself. (Puerto Rico and some states have a rule whereby you win all of the delegates if you get a majority of the votes. If no one gets a majority of the vote, then the delegates are divided proportionately among those who get at least 15%. Thus it is a big deal if you hit 50%.)

Santorum had announced that he favored statehood for Puerto Rico only if it made English its sole official language. However, 95% of Puerto-Ricans speak Spanish at home, so this was not a popular stand for Rick Santorum to take. See our Q&A for more information on the voting in the various US Territories.

A debate was originally scheduled for tomorrow evening. However, Romney withdrew and the debate was cancelled. No more debates are currently on the primary calendar.

Oddsmakers at inTrade give Romney a 92% chance of winning this Tuesday in the Illinois primary. This would probably be his first victory in the continental United States since Super Tuesday.

The Romney campaign had been challenging Santorum signature petitions in several Illinois counties. BuzzFeed reported that the Romney campaign dropped these challenges. It was not immediately clear why they called off their lawyers, but now Politico reports that Santorum had countered that Romney’s signature petitions were all notarized in Boston while Illinois law requires that they be notarized in Illinois. Continuing the legal battles may have invalidated Romney’s candidacy throughout Illinois, so the two campaigns called a legal truce.

Then this Saturday is the Louisiana primary. InTrade gives Santorum a 79% chances of winning there.

 Other Key Dates

  • Republican National Convention, August 27-30, Tampa, FL
  • Democratic National Convention, September 3-6, Charlotte, NC
  • Presidential Debate, Wednesday, October 3, Univ. of Denver, Denver, CO
  • Vice-Presidential Debate, Thursday, October 11 at Centre College, Danville, KY
  • Presidential Debate, Tuesday, October 16, Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY
  • Presidential Debate, Monday, October 22 at Lynn University, Boca Raton, FL
  • General Election, Tuesday, November 3

Color Key  
Romney: Orange.
Santorum: Green.
Gingrich: Purple.
Paul: Gold.
Rick Perry: Blue.
No votes: Black.
Yet to vote: Grey.

States Won
Rick Santorum: IA CO MN MO TN OK ND KS AL MS
Newt Gingrich: SC GA
Ron Paul: VI

Next Contests  
Mar 20: IL
Mar 24: LA
Apr  3: MD DC WI  
Apr 24: CT DE NY PA RI
May  8: IN NC WV
May 15: NE OR
May 22: AR KY
May 29: TX
Jun  5: CA MT NJ NM SD
Jun 26: UT