BY GERSON BORRERO
Other than his partisan detractors, there are few who can legitimately question Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s commitment to the island of Puerto Rico’s recovery since Hurricane Maria’s atmospheric bomb unmercilessly hit its target on Sept. 20, 2017.
To be precise, Cuomo reached out to Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló the day before the Caribbean island was walloped. The day after, New York’s governor was on a plane–with U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez and Bronx Assemblyman Marcos Crespo, chairman of the Puerto Rican and Hispanic Task Force of the New York State Assembly–with water and other essential supplies. In fact, it was the first avión to land after the hurricane.
Since then, and almost at the nine-month mark of the post-devastation recovery, Cuomo continues to help the island. He has used his political stock to get civil servants, organized labor and private sector aide to the people.
But the question in the minds of some is how Cuomo will be received on June 10 at the largest annual gathering of Puertorriqueños on the mainland. This will be the 61st year that the National Puerto Rican Day Parade convenes on Fifth Avenue.
As celebratory and proud as Boricuas are, this year there is a tristeza that looms in the hearts of the diaspora. A recent Harvard FXB report estimated that the actual death toll from Hurricane Maria was 72 times higher than the figure the government of Puerto Rico had maintained as the official death toll.
The news of the damning study “stunned” Gov. Cuomo. How could one ignore the New England Journal of Medicine finding that puts the death toll in Puerto Rico at a jolting 4,645 vidas lost as a consequence of María?
“He was stunned by the report. The governor is very upset with Gov. Rosselló and is asking questions about what’s really going on in the embattled administration.” That’s what I reported in my online “Bochinche” column on Monday.
For sure, Cuomo won’t be accompanied by Gov. Rosselló as he marches up Fifth Avenue this domingo. However, he will be accompanied by the above mentioned elected officials and others as I’m hearing, also the largest contingent of volunteers and workers whose expertise helped restore power and aided hospitals and other essential services to Puertorriqueños on the still recovering island.
Will the gratitude Boricuas have for what Cuomo has done be more powerful than the luto (mourning) in the hearts of the compatriots of the thousands who perished and continue to die as a result of the aftermath of the punishing hurricane?
I say there will be gracias expressed and we may even witness tears. Veremos on Sunday.
Gerson Borrero is an editor-at-large for The PRESS of Southeast Queens and a contributor to the Queens Tribune. His weekly Bochinche column is emailed out to thousands of followers every week. You can sign up by emailing us at email@example.com.