In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, the murder rate skyrocketed in Puerto Rico over the New Year’s first 11 days.
According to official estimates, 32 people were killed in less than two weeks this year, which means that the number of killings has nearly doubled from 2017 levels for the same period.
Some experts believe that the spike in murders across the storm-ravaged island is an effect of Hurricane Maria which seemingly spurred criminal activity across an already bankrupt U.S. territory.
Thousands of police officers are protesting for not being paid overtime through staged sickouts. The move has taken 2,000 law enforcement agents off the streets. What’s more, Puerto Ricans are struggling with scarce resources and dozens of municipalities are left with no electricity.
“You can’t deny the amount of tension you feel when you go there,”
noted University of Maryland’s criminology expert Monica Caudillo.
Puerto Ricans Are on Edge
Caudillo explained that many Puerto Ricans are on edge and if they happen to own a weapon, they may resort to murder when conflicts emerge. Police is no longer protecting families in remote areas, so many live in constant fear for their lives. The family of Caudillo’s husband lives in Puerto Rico.
The expert added that authorities are more concerned about fixing immediate needs tied to the devastating storm than watching crime rates. As a result, many wannabe criminals are being encouraged to commit crimes since they know there’s no one to prosecute them.
Crime rates have also jumped because there aren’t enough police officers, and those who are still working haven’t been paid in months. Experts described the number of recent killings in just 11 days as “a lot”.
However, not all experts link the higher criminality with Hurricane Maria. A Puerto Rico crime expert thinks the uptick in violent crimes is linked to a cycle of criminal violence.
Image Source: Wikimedia