4,645. That’s the number of estimated additional deaths in the three months after Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico on September 2017, according to a recent Harvard study. The official death count sits at a much lower 64, but for months, Puerto Ricans and other outlets have suggested that the government undercounted the number of casualties. The survey has served to remind us that the federal government’s response in Puerto Rico was inadequate and irresponsible. And as people call on the government to assess the death toll – some believe it’s even higher than 4,645 – it has sparked protests and action. Following the study, Puerto Rican headed to the Capitol Building in Old San Juan to lay down pairs of shoes – each representing one death – in front of the building. This weekend at the National Puerto Rican Day Parade, you couldn’t escape the number 4,645.
At a parade that felt more political than those of year’s past, attendees prominently displayed 4,645 on their clothes and on the signs they held. While some demanded a recount of those who perished, others paid tribute to the victims. The parade became an opportunity to remind boricuas that registering to vote and participating in elections is a way to resist. It was a day of mixed emotions – pride, heartache, and rage – that put the resilience of Puerto Ricans front and center.
Check out a few of the powerful images below.