The mayor of San Juan is speaking out against the Trump administration’s slow response to Puerto Rico’s devastation, saying she was “begging” for help as people are dying in the island’s largest city.
Carmen Yulin Cruz made the public plea on Friday, saying that people are dying on the island because of “inefficiency” of the response. As The Hill noted, Puerto Rico is still struggling to recover from Hurricane Maria, which devastated the island nine days ago, leaving the entire island without power.
“I will do what I never thought I was going to do. I am begging, begging anyone who can hear us to save us from dying. If anybody out there is listening to us, we are dying, and you are killing us with the inefficiency,” Carmen Yulin Cruz said.
Cruz and other leaders in Puerto Rico have said that aid is slow in reaching the island, leaving residents in desperate need of food and water along with critically needed medical supplies, The Hill noted. Much of the blame for that slow reply has fallen to Donald Trump, who in his initial response appeared to blame Puerto Rico for its large debt.
He reiterated those comments later in the week.
“Ultimately the government of Puerto Rico will have to work with us to determine how this massive rebuilding effort … will be funded,” Trump said in remarks on Friday (via The Hill). “And what we will do with the tremendous amount of existing debt already on the island.”
There has since been a large federal response, with more than 10,000 personnel being sent to Puerto Rico, but the Trump administration has failed to promise long-term aid. Trump has wavered on whether the federal government will help rebuild the country’s badly damaged infrastructure. A spokesman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency told NBC News that administrators will assess the damage first before committing to fixing infrastructure.
Trump did issue a disaster declaration for Texas in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, which NBC News noted included a promise that the federal government will pay for up to 75 percent of the costs to repair damaged public facilities. No such declaration has been made for Puerto Rico.
Critics also said that Donald Trump was slow in recognizing the desperate need for aid in Puerto Rico, noting that he spent the majority of last weekend tweeting about protesting NFL players and offered little public response to the crisis. Trump spent this critical period at his golf course in New Jersey, a period in which critics said Trump and his administration paid little attention to the growing crisis.
Other members of Trump’s administration are under fire for the response to Puerto Rico, CNN noted. This week, FEMA administrator and acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke called the crisis in Puerto Rico a “good news story.”
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