ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – For about four hours last night at Busch Stadium, Eduardo Perez was distracted by baseball. His job as an analyst for ESPN’s broadcast in St. Louis took him away from thinking about the destruction and death that continues in his home country of Puerto Rico, after multiple hurricanes recently hit the small island country.
“Baseball is an outlet for me right now,” Perez says. “And for every Puerto Rican player that wears a uniform, it’s a positive distraction from knowing that your friends, families, neighbors, are going through this in Puerto Rico.”
He spoke with KMOX’s Tom Ackerman:
In Puerto Rico, 97 percent of the island is currently without power, including a hospital that can’t turn on some of its necessary equipment to treat patients. Perez says many people lost power the day after it had just returned, after Hurricane Irma hit the country in early September. Meaning some people have been without power for the past 20 days.
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“This moment, right now, not only Puerto Rico needs to unit, but the entire U.S. needs to unite, because we are U.S. citizens,” Perez says. “I just hope Congress and the President understand right now how important it is to lift the Jones Act.”
The Jone Act requires that all goods shipped between U.S. ports be carried by ships built by Americans and operated by Americans, according to CBS News. Under the law, foreign vessels that enter Puerto Rico are subject to taxes, fees and tariffs. On Monday, a group of eight House Democrats asked that DHS waive the law for one year for Puerto Rico, but the request was denied.
Perez says his wife is “hysterical” at home, in trying to get their nephews and her father out of Puerto Rico. He says the best way to help is to donate to a true “100% of proceeds” cause, and warns people to be wiry of scams that are out there. He suggests donating to United For Puerto Rico, through the first lady’s office, wife of the governor.
Other sports icons are also joining in the donations, like Dallas Mavricks owner Mark Cuban, who gave the team plane to guard J.J. Barea to deliver supplies to his home country, on Monday.
Perez has a home in Puerto Rico still, but it is not high on his list of priorities.
“I still don’t know how my home is there, I don’t know if the glass got blown out or not from my home,” Perez says. “But that doesn’t matter, that’s material. There’s no one there in that house I care about the lives right now of my fellow Puerto Ricans.”
There is no word yet from MLB, but Perez says the devastation in San Juan, Puerto Rico could affect the games Cleveland and Minnesota are scheduled to play there in April. The stadium was “hit hard” Perez says, and if the games were supposed to be played in the next two months, he says the would “definitely not.”
Puerto Rico was affected by all three of the Hurricanes the past month.
“They were back-to-back-to-back. They hit us hard,” Perez says. “We knew it was coming, but we just didn’t know it was going to be this hard. And we haven’t seen this since 1928 in Puerto Rico.”