The long-suffering people of Puerto Rico are hopefully beginning to understand just how much of their suffering has been caused by corrupt politicians of their choosing and not the Trump administration.

Over the weekend, a warehouse was discovered to be stocked full of water, medicine, diapers, baby food, cots, and other emergency supplies that were sent to the impoverished island in the wake of Hurricane Maria, which devastated Peurto Rico in September 2017. The unused supplies, most of which were paid for by American taxpayers, were discovered by residents in the coastal city of Ponce, one of many locations severely impacted by a 6.4 magnitude earthquake that struck Puerto Rico on January 7. More than 2,000 tremors have followed, leaving the island's three million residents on edge.

This is not the first such find. In July 2019, thousands of bottles of water FEMA delivered to Hurricane Maria victims were discovered on farmland some 25 miles from San Juan. The water had expired and had to be destroyed. A similar discovery was made at an airport in eastern Puerto Rico in September 2018. Who knows how much additional unused aid is still out there?

So far three government officials have been fired over the mishandling of the aid discovered this weekend in Ponce.

At least a half dozen elected officials, all members of Puerto Rico's Democrat or New Progressive parties, have been indicted to date for misappropriating emergency aid for the victims of Hurricane Maria. All this as the island's political ruling party and Democrats here on the mainland continue to accuse the Trump administration of not doing enough to assist the people of Puerto Rico.

The Trump administration and Congress approved some $60 billion in relief aid to Puerto Rico. Not all of the funds have made it to the island yet due to concerns about corruption. Trump has declared Puerto Rico a major disaster area as a result of the recent earthquake. Some $8.2 billion in heavily restricted earthquake aid has been approved so far.

Trump refuses to just turn over tens of billions of dollars in aid to people who cannot be trusted with it. This weekend's discovery and the corruption arrests since Maria are solid evidence as to why his concerns are valid.

Americans are the most generous people to ever walk this Earth. They are quick to open their hearts and their pocketbooks to those in need. But one thing that the lessons of Haiti taught us following the devastating earthquake of 2010 is that there are corrupt individuals who will feed off of that generosity for their greedy purposes.

Whether its San Juan, Port au Prince or even Kiev, American tax dollars must be protected from the corrupt forces who would deprive those in need to satisfy their own greed.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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