Cartoon: The Puerto Rico Loop

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The ongoing crisis in Puerto Rico is being mostly ignored by virtually all institutions on the mainland. It’s impossible to imagine that the crisis would have been allowed to go on so long, with so little attention, had it happened in Connecticut.

The cycle of no attention is frustrating and it makes me feel helpless – which usually means, time to draw a cartoon. I’ve done cartoons before in which the last panel repeated the first panel, implying a loop, but this time I wanted to try drawing it as a literal loop.

I’m pretty pleased with how this one looks – big heads and lots of cross hatching is increasingly becoming my jam.

Transcript of cartoon.

The main body of this cartoon shows three groupings of figures. Large arrows point counterclockwise from each group to the next group.

At the top of the loop, a balding man in an expensive suit speaks directly to the readers, while shrugging.
SUIT DUDE: We can’t put tax dollars into helping Puerto Rico if the voters don’t care about it.

A big arrow leads from the man in the suit, to a television set, showing two news anchors, a man and a woman. They are both shrugging and looking into the camera. The anchorwoman speaks.

ANCHORWOMAN: If the government does nothing about Puerto Rico, there’s nothing for us to report.

A large arrow leads from the television set to a man and a woman standing on a hillside. The man is wearing a plaid shirt and scratching his head in bewilderment; the woman, wearing a hoodie and a skirt with a dotted pattern, looks directly at the reader and speaks while shrugging.

WOMAN: If it’s constantly on the news, we forget it exists.

A large arrow leads from the two people, back up to the politician in a suit.

At the very bottom of the cartoon, a small “kicker” panel shows a fat man with a beard and glasses speaking directly to the readers.
BARRY: There’s no way to break out of this cycle! …Unless the victims are white.

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8 Responses to Cartoon: The Puerto Rico Loop

  1. 1
    desipis says:

    I love the news ticker. I also think the cycle format works for the comic.

    I think you’ve got the relationship backwards between TV news and general public. The TV news will report on whatever is going to get views (or clicks). They don’t report as much on the issue because they viewers aren’t as interested, not so much the vice versa. Yes, over the long term patterns in news coverage may shape cultural values but I don’t think that’s something individuals can drive.

  2. 2
    Ampersand says:


    When I was writing this, I went back and forth on which direction the arrows could go in. The truth is, they are all self-feeding loops, and all the causality goes in both directions. But I didn’t think that would make as effective a cartoon.

  3. 3
    RonF says:

    There’s been a lot of local malfeasance in Puerto Rico (don’t forget that the model is that the Feds provide resources but the State/local authorities actually run the show). There’s also unique logistical problems – unlike places like Connecticut and Houston the local infrastructure was horrible BEFORE the hurricanes hit, and everything has to be transferred over water.

    But I have a feeling we could be doing more. I’d like to see an actual analysis of what resources are being dedicated to this, how they are being used, and what the problems are that are slowing the effort down.

  4. 4
    Jake Squid says:

    This comic works perfectly for Flint, too.

  5. 5
    Gerald says:

    white supremacist ideology IS the foundation, source and fuel of American racism!
    AND finally has placed an overt white supremacist racist, bigot IN the WHITE House to set policy and sign laws based on the this ideology!
    Willful ignorance is not BLISSful … just plain stupid!
    Willful ignorance has been the default position for much of America(white) for the past 10 years or so!
    They even ignored that HI is a state of the United States of America!
    AND that Black people born IN America …are citizens OF America!
    WITH the same rights and protections THEY recieve as citizens!
    Ohhhh … Puerto Rico and Puerto Rican’s ARE afforded the same rights and protections … BUT … maybe we should call them Norwegians!

  6. 6
    Petar says:

    PLEASE! oH, PoweRs that!

    BE! Let the Aвo✓Ё po5т!
    be A jOke!

  7. 7
    RonF says:

    Recent news of a power plant explosion and of future plans for the power utility.

    An explosion at a main power plant in Puerto Rico triggered a blackout across part of the island on Sunday, as officials said several municipalities were without power. It was not immediately known what caused the explosion, which set off a fire, but areas of the U.S. territory — including parts of the capital city, San Juan — were without power.

    Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló recently announced that he planned to privatize the state-owned power company, which is $9 billion in debt and relying on infrastructure nearly three times older than the industry average. It would be the largest restructuring of a public entity in U.S. history.

  8. 8
    Petar says:

    The company for which I work has a distribution warehouse in Puerto Rico. The infrastructure there is beyond the pale.

    Power has never been reliable – we actually saved money by installing a server room grade three phase UPS for the sales people computers, because we were losing PCs and even consumer grade UPSs every single month. Power surges and outages were the norm well before any hurricane.

    Broadband was so bad that we kept a PC in corporate just for connecting to PR via good old fashioned modem, and it was a miracle if it managed to negotiate 56.6K even for a while. The phones themselves were horrible, and service from anyone responsible to keep things running was a joke.

    To be honest, I hated dealing with that warehouse so much that I once caught myself feeling negative about a goalie in a game I was refereeing just because she wore number 27 (Our PR warehouse is W027)

    Now, I am not saying that anyone in Washington is falling over themselves to solve Puerto Rico’s problems, but I would not be surprised if the issues are due to those responsible being inadequate to the task, not for lack of will to help.