The other day I saw a story by James-Beard Award-winner Carlos Frías at The Miami Herald about a new restaurant called La Placita which features a giant Puerto Rico mural. The restaurant painting is a tribute those who have made the move to Florida after Hurricane Maria and settled into Miami, according to the owners.
When I saw the story, I was impressed that Miami is welcoming the Puerto Rico transplants so well…considering all the hardship that has occurred since Hurricane Maria wiped the country killing over 3,000 people and making over 100,000 abandon their homes for the United States and leaving those that remained in Puerto Rico in the dark for nearly a year.
People in the United States can barely stand a few hours without air-conditioning, electricity, cell phone, and internet service. Imagine going through that for an entire year (and some people may still not have power).
Hurricane Maria was one of the worst natural disasters to ever happen in history to a country that is a U.S. territory and colony to boot.
Most of it can be traced back to FEMA and reckless disaster preparation and response by the current federal government in the United States (just read Chef Jose Andres for more on that). Nevertheless, the survivors persisted and found new homes and are still rebuilding their lives.
Later, the story quickly changed after the opening date of the restaurant. Now Miami officials are telling the owners to paint OVER the mural since apparently they did not get proper permits before painting a giant Puerto Rico flag over their restaurant and the historical association there is fuming about it not fitting the neighborhood.
How is it possible that Miami was unaware that there was a GIANT Puerto Rico mural being painted in this neighborhood? Give me a break. Haven’t the people of Puerto Rico been through enough? Why doesn’t Miami cut them a break?
One of the most international cities in the country should understand that many of these people now living in Miami are refugees of a horrible situation that has displaced them from their homes.
Can they have just this? I know I was planning to go down to Miami from Tampa to visit this restaurant just to see this painting and I hope it will still be there when I get the chance.
It’s the least we can do for those who have suffered so much.