In a few days it will be exactly 6 months that Hurricane Maria landed in Puerto Rico leaving behind an unimaginable devastation which triggered yet another massive migration from the island towards the mainland, including our borough of The Bronx.
With one of the largest populations of Puerto Ricans on the mainland, the event, although thousands of miles away, triggered a torrent of emotions on the diaspora here as families waited days, weeks and even months before hearing word from their loved ones on the island.
What followed was also one of the worst humanitarian crisis in US history as the callousness of the Trump administration, coupled with the ineptitude and cowardice of the Puerto Rican government’s unwilling to stand up for the 3.5 million US citizens that inhabit the island crippled any meaningful rescue and aid attempts.
But Puerto Ricans are survivors. Our island has been through a lot since being colonized over 500 years ago first by the Spanish and later on by the United States.
6 months later, Puerto Rico is still struggling to pick up the pieces but our island still remains beautiful in our hearts.
Photographer Omar Z Robles recently captured hauntingly beautiful images of Puerto Rico with his signature juxtaposition of dancers in various settings and landscapes throughout the island.
“I remembered all those things that make my Puerto Rico so special, beautiful and precious to me. Even if my island’s current appearance is a little roughed up, she is still the same Preciosa that held me in her arms as a child. In all the stories I heard, there was one constant phrase from everyone, like a mantra “pero al menos estamos vivos y eso es lo importante” (at least we are alive, which is what really matters). Even Don Moncho, who lost every single one of his belongings joined the chorus of voices singing that refrain… “estamos vivos”…Puerto Rico you are still here, you are still mine, and that matters.”
There is a beauty in these photographs that leaves you breathless yet filled with hope for the future of Puerto Rico for even in devastation there is beauty to be found.
Thank you so much to Omar Z Robles for sharing his images with us and his beautiful account.