Puerto Rico reaches out to Taliban for tips on getting US aid

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Weeks after the island of Puerto Rico was devastated by Hurricane Maria, huge swaths of the territory are still without power, running water, or transportation. But the governor of Puerto Rico is trying an innovative approach for getting help from the mainland.

"We are desperate," Gov. Ricardo Rosselló wrote in an open letter to the Taliban. "People keep pointing to Cuba on a map. Please let us know what you did to get so much help from the U.S. government."

The letter, posted on its own independently-run web domain — www.PuertoRicOhNo.gov — garnered instant attention from news media outlets, and went viral on both Facebook and Twitter.

The site's heavily moderated discussion forum has served as a flashpoint for thousands of threads of topics, most of which devolved rapidly into people telling Puerto Ricans to "go back to their own country."

The Taliban, which received over $630 million per year during Operation Cyclone from the United States in the late 1980s, quickly accepted the outreach effort, and responded with constructive suggestions for Puerto Rico to get the same level of attention as terrorists that would eventually help murder thousands of American citizens.

"The most important thing is to start a proxy war with Russia," said Mawlawi Haibatullah Akhundzada, leader of the Taliban since 2016. "Do you have any elements that are sympathetic to communism? You should take what meager supplies you have left and fund them."

Puerto Rico responded by saying that Russia was already pretty happy with the way things were going, but the Taliban urged them to take the advice anyway.

"It doesn't have to be a a real conflict. Even a couple of fake flags with the sickle and hammer would probably help. Tweet them, they love tweets."

Various other comments seemed more random bits of advice, and inspired less back-and-forth discussion. Soon, other groups that had received mountains of US aid in the past began jumping in with their own views.

"Don't let them give you F-4s!" an anonymous poster from the Iranian air force said. "They break all the time, and then you say 'death to America' one time and they stop selling you replacement parts."

"Have you tried having oil?" an Iraqi government spokesperson said in another post. "Having oil works. Only twice though."

"Do you have anything that looks like a nuclear missile?" wrote Raul Castro. "Even a grain silo turned on its side might work. We could lend you a SAM system for long enough to shoot down a U-2."

"Have you tried not being Hispanic?" a single-comment thread read.

"Just be prepared," Akhundzada said in a later post, "the way they really do things is a 'break them down, build them up' method, so you might get bombed. And they might leave in the middle of things, but don't worry, they'll be back in five to ten years after people from the Dominican Republic fill the power vacuum and really start causing trouble."

Blondes over Baghdad contributed reporting.