Jo Cosme still doesn’t have electricity at her home in Puerto Rico, but the 29-year-old multidisciplinary artist still managed to churn out an incredible piece for an exhibition at Museo las Américas in Old San Juan. Titled Catarsis, the expo features work from artists in a post-Hurricane Maria context. For Cosme, who mixes social and political critique with humor and cynicism, that meant relating every bit of the struggle after the storm.

You can’t use the deck as a traditional tarot, Cosme notes, but Maria survivors undoubtedly identify with each card. As the humanitarian crisis unfolded, everyone literally lived what’s in this deck.

“The cards, if you look at them, they focus less about the hurricane and more about what happened after,” she says. “The hurricane was a monster, obviously – but even more monstrous was what happened after.”

The anxiety felt while glued to local meteorologist Ada Monzon’s Facebook page as Maria approached the island, the absurdity of the local and federal government’s failures, and finally, the hashtag that purports recovery, but feels tragically ironic – it’s all there in Cosme’s deck. And on the back of each card, there’s the Puerto Rican flag in black-and-white; a symbol of resistance.

Learn what each card means below.



La Corrupción

Courtesy of Jo Cosme

Government corruption is certainly not a new topic for Puerto Ricans, but in the wake of Hurricane Maria, those misdeeds – including the shady Whitefish Energy contract that’s since been canceled – had extreme, and sometimes fatal, consequences.


La Muerte

Courtesy of Jo Cosme

The death toll has yet to be updated, but experts estimate it’s well beyond the official number of 64. Upwards of 1,000 people are suspected to have died due to indirect consequences post-storm, like a lack of electricity to power medical equipment or inaccessibility to medical care for treatable conditions (infections, diabetes). Additionally, the suicide rate has risen.


El Desempleo

Courtesy of Jo Cosme

“Local businesses have been crumbling down ever since the hurricane hit,” Cosme says.

Unemployment was already high – 10.1 percent in August last year, more than twice the US average – before the storm, and is expected to grow. Applications for unemployment benefits doubled from 5,000 to 10,000 in the Department of Labor’s first week open post-storm.


El Mosquito

Courtesy of Jo Cosme

“We live in a tropical island, so we have a lot of mosquitos, and repellants? They were nowhere to be seen [for purchase],” Cosme recalls. “We couldn’t sleep at night because of the heat and the mosquitos.”

Mosquito-borne viruses are a perpetual threat to Puerto Ricans: The Zika outbreak that infected about 40,000 was only declared over four months prior to Maria, and before that, in 2014, more than 10,000 residents were infected by a similar virus, chikungunya. Fearing a new virus would developed was by no stretch illogical, but thankfully, no new mosquito-borne viruses emerged.



Courtesy of Jo Cosme

Puerto Ricans didn’t have to contend with a new mosquito virus, but they did have to worry about leptospirosis, a bacterial disease contracted through water contaminated with rat urine. If left untreated, it can be fatal – at least two people died as a result of leptospirosis, and 76 additional cases were suspected.

Rats peed in water streams that Puerto Ricans bathed in, as well as in unprotected houses and on debris. “Nobody had heard of leptospirosis before,” she says, “and all of the sudden it was super present.”


La Protección

Courtesy of Jo Cosme

“I put a hand sanitizer as if it were a rosary because of two things, because Puerto Rico is majority Catholic, and because of the sarcasm,” she says. “Everybody was not looking for a rosary, they were looking for hand sanitizer – every minute of the day. That was our new rosary, basically. The new protection.”


El Toldo

Courtesy of Jo Cosme

Tens of thousands of homes in Puerto Rico were severely damaged and in need of roof coverage, yet tarps were slow to arrive. One Florida company given a $30 million contract for tarps and plastic sheeting failed to deliver; four weeks later, the contract was canceled; meanwhile, homes continued to flood during bouts of rain, causing further property damage and displacing residents.


La Embeatriz

Courtesy of Jo Cosme

“There is a card in the tarot called la Emperatriz, and I thought it was kind of funny, so I put the dollar sign on [First Lady Beatriz Rosselló’s] head because she was looking for funds through Unidos por Puerto Rico, but we never saw what they did with those funds,” Cosme says.

Beatriz Rosselló, who founded the private-sector owned Unidos por Puerto Rico, recently announced a plan to rehabilitate parks with donated money – but Twitter wasn’t having it. She ultimately rescinded the plan in response, and invited nonprofits to submit alternative proposals.

The nose references Pinocchio and the broken heart captures the feelings many who donated to the fund. Something most people outside Puerto Rico may not notice, however, is the book she’s holding. Rosselló accidentally named the wrong author when referencing 100 Años de Soledad in a December interview, resulting in a barrage of merciless tweets and memes.



Courtesy of Jo Cosme

They can explain away all they want, but the fact is that FEMA’s rations for Puerto Rico were often snacks with little nutritional value. Cosme laughs, “You’d expect there to be food, but not really. Surprise! It’s some Cheez-its and Skittles and Pringles.”


Los Olvidados

Courtesy of Jo Cosme

This viral photo, taken in Punto Santiago in eastern coastal municipality of Humacao, broke Cosme’s heart. “That’s something you read from a book, like a dystopian future book. It’s not something that would happen today in Puerto Rico,” she says, noting the ongoing crowdfunding effort organized by the photographer to help residents – who some call “the forgotten” people –of the area.



El Hashtag

Courtesy of Jo Cosme

After all that, the slow recovery, the state of things today – oh, the irony.