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Washington - Under Fire, Trump Blames Puerto Ricans For Slow Hurricane Response

Published on: September 30, 2017 10:04 PM
By: Reuters 
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A man stands inside of a destroyed supermarket by Hurricane Maria in Salinas, Puerto Rico, September 29, 2017  REUTERS/Alvin Baez  A man stands inside of a destroyed supermarket by Hurricane Maria in Salinas, Puerto Rico, September 29, 2017 REUTERS/Alvin Baez

Washington - U.S. President Donald Trump blamed Puerto Ricans on Saturday for the slow pace of relief from the devastating damage caused by Hurricane Maria, saying his government, which has come under fire for its response, was doing an “amazing job.”

Trump took to Twitter early on Saturday to fire back at the mayor of San Juan, the island’s largest city. On Friday, Carmen Yulin Cruz had criticized Trump’s Republican administration and begged for more help, pleas that received widespread television coverage in the mainland United States.

Maria, the most powerful storm to strike Puerto Rico in nearly 90 years, wiped out the power and communications systems, making it difficult to get food, water and fuel around the island. The hurricane has killed at least 16 people, according to the official death toll.

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Trump, who was spending the weekend at his private golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, said Cruz was attacking him for partisan reasons.

“Such poor leadership by the Mayor of San Juan and others in Puerto Rico who are not able to get their workers to help,” said Trump, who is slated to visit the island on Tuesday. “They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort.”

Cruz, who has been living in a shelter after her home was destroyed in the hurricane, told MSNBC that the issue was not personal and said municipal employees were working as hard as they could.

“Actually, I was asking for help - I wasn’t saying anything nasty about the president,” Cruz said. “I am not going to be distracted by small comments, by politics, by petty issues.

Trump’s comments drew swift condemnation on the mainland.

“The tweets this morning are despicable, are deplorable, are not statesman-like at all,” said New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, a Democrat who was born in Puerto Rico.

“He needs to be in charge, he needs to take control, he needs to demonstrate some level of empathy over what is happening,” Mark-Viverito said on CNN.

Mayor of San Juan Carmen Yulin Cruz (R) embraces Esperanza Ruiz, a city administrator, outside the government center at the Roberto Clemente Coliseum after Hurricane Maria, in San Juan, Puerto Rico September 30, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos BarriaMayor of San Juan Carmen Yulin Cruz (R) embraces Esperanza Ruiz, a city administrator, outside the government center at the Roberto Clemente Coliseum after Hurricane Maria, in San Juan, Puerto Rico September 30, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Trump was scheduled to speak by telephone to the governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rossello, and other officials from the region on Saturday, and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence visited the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s headquarters in Washington for a briefing.

At a news conference, Rossello declined to comment on Trump’s tweets, which he said he had not seen.

“Let me stress this: I am committed to collaborating with everybody,” he said. “This is a point where we can’t look at small differences and establish differences based on politics.”

The Trump administration has given Puerto Rico’s government “whatever we ask for” in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane, Rossello said. But he warned that the U.S. Congress would need to help rebuild the island, which is home to 3.4 million Americans.

“If Congress doesn’t take action with a significant package, then we are looking at a possible humanitarian crisis,” he said. “What are the effects of falling into that predicament? Massive exodus without a doubt.”

The insurance industry has begun to tally the mounting costs of Maria, with one modeling company estimating that claims could total as much as $85 billion. Puerto Rico has incurred most of the damage.

San Juan resident Judith Berkan said power shortages and long lines for cash, food, gasoline, and medical clinics were wearing people down.

“Things don’t seem to be getting better,” Berkan, a lawyer, said in a text message.

“Although there are great moments of solidarity on the ground here, you can also see that patience is growing thin.”

A man carrying a water container walks next to damaged houses after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria in Canovanas, Puerto Rico, September 26, 2017. Picture taken on September 26, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia RawlinsA man carrying a water container walks next to damaged houses after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria in Canovanas, Puerto Rico, September 26, 2017. Picture taken on September 26, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins


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Read Comments (6)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Sep 30, 2017 at 11:34 PM hashomer Says:

The Orange Yutz picks a twitter fight w the American Citizens of Puerto Rico (1898) during a humanitarian crisis there. 95% still have no power. 66% no phone service. Food, water, gas, cash in extreme shortage. 16 deaths so far, hundreds injured. 80% of hospitals off line. Dotard Donnie attacks the victims. No brains, no empathy during a disaster, no excuse for him. Terrible.

2

 Oct 01, 2017 at 01:28 AM Anonymous Says:

I've given up on fake news entirely. If you read the President's tweets, you will get an entirely different picture. I tend to believe him over the lying, biased media.

Some examples:
"The Governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rossello, is a great guy and leader who is really working hard. Thank you Ricky!"

"I want everybody on the ground in PR & USVI assisting in Hurricane Maria relief efforts to know that we are grateful & thankful to all of you! Ignore the FAKE NEWS & keep up the GREAT WORK! THANK YOU!"

"My Administration, Governor @RicardoRossello, and many others are working together to help the people of Puerto Rico in every way...#FakeNews critics are working overtime, but we're getting great marks from the people that truly matter!"

3

 Oct 01, 2017 at 04:54 AM ARI Says:

The Mayor of San Juan, is not exactly unbiased, regarding Trump. She was blasting him in her tweets, long before he became President. Secondly, I agree that Puerto Rico's own lackluster response, and its internal bureaucracy have not helped. For example, over 80% of their truck drivers have not hauled trucks with shipping containers, out of the port of San Juan. I can't believe that 80% of them were unable to report for work. Also, I think that their unions are preventing other truck drivers from the mainland (who may not be members of the union), from hauling the goods, to needed areas. There have been reports of hijackings of water tanker trucks. Hijackings are done with guns; there is a violent criminal element on Puerto Rico, which has not received a lot of news coverage, because of the censored and biased reports. What has the Puerto Rican National Guard, and its own national police force done in this crisis? One hears very little about that.

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 Oct 01, 2017 at 10:18 AM georgeg Says:

Reply to #1  
hashomer Says:

The Orange Yutz picks a twitter fight w the American Citizens of Puerto Rico (1898) during a humanitarian crisis there. 95% still have no power. 66% no phone service. Food, water, gas, cash in extreme shortage. 16 deaths so far, hundreds injured. 80% of hospitals off line. Dotard Donnie attacks the victims. No brains, no empathy during a disaster, no excuse for him. Terrible.

You seem to have such enormous disdain for the intelligence of the readers here. It is clear from even from this article that the mayor started this, that the mayor prefers to fight with Trump rather than help his own people.

5

 Oct 01, 2017 at 10:47 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #1  
hashomer Says:

The Orange Yutz picks a twitter fight w the American Citizens of Puerto Rico (1898) during a humanitarian crisis there. 95% still have no power. 66% no phone service. Food, water, gas, cash in extreme shortage. 16 deaths so far, hundreds injured. 80% of hospitals off line. Dotard Donnie attacks the victims. No brains, no empathy during a disaster, no excuse for him. Terrible.

You are living in a fantasy land, or you are believing the fake news. The facts are that the President has authorized a huge relief effort for Puerto Rico. There are tens of thousands of relief workers on the island right now, and at lease $1B has been sent. The governor, and the citizens affected have all praised the US government's relief effort.

You can't expect instantaneous resumption of services. It takes time, precisely because of the impact to the infrastructure. But unlike you throwing stones from whatever cave you live in, the relief workers are doing the best they can under the circumstances.

Enough with your visceral criticism of the President! Take a chill.

6

 Oct 01, 2017 at 12:29 PM Some examples: Says:

Reply to #2  
Anonymous Says:

I've given up on fake news entirely. If you read the President's tweets, you will get an entirely different picture. I tend to believe him over the lying, biased media.

Some examples:
"The Governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rossello, is a great guy and leader who is really working hard. Thank you Ricky!"

"I want everybody on the ground in PR & USVI assisting in Hurricane Maria relief efforts to know that we are grateful & thankful to all of you! Ignore the FAKE NEWS & keep up the GREAT WORK! THANK YOU!"

"My Administration, Governor @RicardoRossello, and many others are working together to help the people of Puerto Rico in every way...#FakeNews critics are working overtime, but we're getting great marks from the people that truly matter!"

Biggest inauguration crowd in history. Largest Electoral win in History. Moving US Embassy to Jerusalem on day one. Repeal Obamacare on his first day in office. No Russian Connection.

7

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