Author: Anne Theriault

UConn Survey: Local Hurricane (Maria) Evacuees Need Basic Necessities

 – Combined Reports – UConn Communications

About 13,000 residents of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands who arrived in Connecticut in the aftermath of the hurricanes Maria and Irma continue to struggle with obtaining basic needs including adequate housing, food, medical care, and jobs, according to a survey by UConn researchers for the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving.

The vast majority of those who have come to Connecticut, over 70 percent, have extremely low incomes — under $30,000 — and their needs are adding a heavy responsibility on an already over-extended and resource-limited Puerto Rican community in Connecticut, given the extreme levels of need that are present in the community, even before the storms.

About 1,300 people participated in the survey, which utilized online and in-person questionnaires in English and Spanish and field research, and was led by the University of Connecticut’s El Instituto: Institute for Latina/o Caribbean and Latin American Studies and with the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College.

Researchers sought to understand the long-term impact of displacement on Puerto Rican households in the Greater Hartford region.

They found that while some households surveyed relied on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for funding for basic needs, the majority of those affected relied on the Greater Hartford’s nonprofit organizations, school districts, and family members for support.

In Connecticut, relief has also been provided through a $4.4 million education and housing assistance for displaced residents, which was approved by the state’s General Assembly during the 2018 Legislative Session.

“The Hartford region has one of the highest concentrations of people of Puerto Rican origin outside Puerto Rico and last year’s hurricanes brought thousands more to the region, many of whom will likely stay,” said Scott Gaul, the Hartford Foundation’s director of Research and Evaluation. “The hurricanes were an unprecedented event, but we can anticipate similar crises will happen again. The survey is one tool to help the Hartford region understand the needs of evacuees and the potential long-term impacts of displacement.”

Among this population:

  • More than half of those surveyed (56%) mentioned that it was very likely (36%) or somewhat likely (22%) that kin would relocate from the Caribbean to Connecticut, with most of those relatives and friends staying with respondents.
  • Respondents expected displaced kin to remain in Connecticut into the medium and long terms. Nearly a third of respondents (32%) reported that kin would stay in Connecticut for a few months, and a quarter (26%) would remain for a few years.
  • The most pressing need for respondents hosting displaced Puerto Ricans is lodging, with fully one-third of them indicating that housing was one the biggest needs they face.
  • Nearly three-fifths of respondents indicated housing was displaced person’s first order need, followed by 16 percent who mentioned it in second order.
  • Food was a first order need for one-fifth of survey respondents’ displaced friends and relatives and second order need for 35 percent.
  • Respondents expect nearly 1,500 additional people to arrive from Puerto Rico in the wake of the hurricane.
  • Respondents living in Hartford’s outer ring suburbs were relatively less likely (72%) to have kin in the Caribbean than those living in Hartford or its immediate suburbs.

“Survey respondents identify housing issues and insufficient food as the most critical needs they are facing in Connecticut, along with healthcare, in the after aftermath of the crisis,” said Charles R. Venator-Santiago, associate professor of political science at UConn. “These are needs not only of those who are in the state already, but of those who are very likely to arrive in the short term.”

Results from the survey will help inform long-term planning and action by funders, nonprofits, municipalities and schools. The Foundation will work with community organizations and leaders in the region to disseminate and act on survey results.

The Hartford Foundation recently awarded $230,000 in grants from its Respond-Rebuild-Renew Fund to provide support services to residents impacted by relocation from the Caribbean and other disaster areas.

The full report: PR_Survey_Booklet_print_Final

Puerto Rican Crisis Research Group

El Instituto announces the establishment of a Puerto Rican Crisis Research Group. This initiative aims to channel information within and beyond the UConn community about the background to the PROMESA/Hurricane María crisis, its nature and magnitude, and the prospects and initiatives for recovery.

Our first priority at this stage is gathering and sharing information: Are you, your UConn colleagues or Connecticut neighbors providing or planning to provide support for civil society initiatives, scholarly partners, government planning or other reconstruction efforts? Please let us know if you would like us to share word of your UConn-related initiatives through the Instituto mailing list or social media.

The research group will also be organizing a series of public lectures and scholarly workshops all the way through spring 2018 and possibly beyond.

Our first speaker is human rights lawyer and community activist Ariadna Godreau, who will present a public lecture on Monday 27 November, 4:30PM, Class of ‘47 Room, “The Politics of Disaster Relief: Austerity and Human Rights in Puerto Rico Post-María.”

Godreau will also workshop a paper in progress, Tuesday, 28 November, 12:30-2:00PM, Dodd 162, “Whose Rights? Whose Debris?  Access to Justice and Shared Responsibility in Puerto Rico Post-María.”

The speaker series will be multidisciplinary and your suggestions for future speakers are welcome.

Another research group initiative is a faculty/grad reading group, “Theorizing Catastrophes,” co-sponsored with the UCONN Humanities Institute. Once more details are set, we will reach out again with word of this reading group’s agenda and schedule.

Please feel free to contact any of the research group’s co-organizers, Rob Venator (charles.venator@uconn.edu), Guillermo Irizarry (Guillermo.irizarry@uconn.edu) or Samuel Martínez (Samuel.martinez@uconn.edu).

Chrystal Smith receives NSF grant

University of Connecticut anthropology professor Dr. Chrystal Smith has been granted $174,000 from the National Science Foundation to study the effects of academic climate and social networks on sexual and gender minority undergraduates who are in STEM fields. To read full article, go to https://innovation.uconn.edu/news/234/Understanding%20the%20STEM%20Climate%20and%20Social%20Networks%20effects%20on%20the%20Persistence%20of%20sexual%20and%20gender%20minorities%20in%20STEM%20fields

The Disembodied Shade

the_shadePuerto Rico and the origins of the U.S. Global Empire: The Disembodied Shadow

Drawing on a postcolonial legal history of the United States’ territorial expansionism, this book provides an analysis of the foundations of its global empire. Charles R. Venator-Santiago argues that the United States has developed three traditions of territorial expansionism with corresponding constitutional interpretations, namely colonialist, imperialist, and global expansionist. This book offers an alternative interpretation of the origins of US global expansion, suggesting it began with the tradition of territorial expansionism following the 1898 Spanish–American War to legitimate the annexation of Puerto Rico and other non-contiguous territories. The relating constitutional interpretation grew out of the 1901 Insular Cases in which the Supreme Court coined the notion of an unincorporated territory to describe the 1900 Foraker Act’s normalization of the prevailing military territorial policies. Since then the United States has invoked the ensuing precedents to legitimate a wide array of global policies, including the ‘war on terror’.

Puerto Rico and the Origins of US Global Empire: The Disembodied Shade combines a unique study of Puerto Rican legal history with a new interpretation of contemporary US policy. As such, it provides a valuable resource for students and scholars of the legal and historical disciplines, especially those with a specific interest in American and postcolonial studies.

Beyond La Frontera

Mark Overmyer-Velazquez

la_fronteraProviding a comprehensive and up-to-date historical overview of Mexican migration to the U.S., Beyond la Frontera: The History of Mexico-U.S. Migrationexamines the transnational and historical impact of migratory trends as they developed in Mexico and the U.S. from the mid-nineteenth century to the present day. Featuring essays by leading authors in the field, the book utilizes both a chronological and thematic structure, referencing mutually influential periods in Mexican and Mexican-American history. Taking into consideration the bi-national historical factors and narrative constructions of Mexican migration, Beyond la Frontera also describes how we may better understand the persistent legislative debates surrounding migrant rights and national sovereignty.