The mayor of San Juan gave a press conference criticizing President Trump’s relief efforts while standing in front of hundreds of pallets of relief aid delivered by the United States government. An estimated 9,500 containers filled with fresh food, water, and medicine are stuck at shipping docks in Puerto Rico due to logistical transport issues within the island itself. Although distribution of the supplies within the island is the responsibility of the region’s governor and then mayor, Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz has refused to attend any FEMA meetings to coordinate relief efforts in her city. Meanwhile, over 10,000 U.S. Military personnel have been on the ground in Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria hit.
Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz gave an impassioned press conference and heavily criticized Trump, saying, “We are dying, and you (Trump) are killing us with inefficiency.” Yet, the supplies Cruz stood in front of were delivered by the US after the hurricane. Mayor Cruz never attended any FEMA meetings. Her criticisms are in sharp contrast to those of the governor, who said the administration has been efficient and helpful.
“The administration has answered and has complied with our petitions in an expedited manner.”
Other mayors have expressed sentiment closer to the governor’s, including the nearby city Guaynabo who said that Cruz is “my friend” but is “playing politics” with her comments.
MSNBC reporter Mariana Atencio was on the ground in Puerto Rico and investigated why the supplies weren’t being delivered within the island. She reported that less than 20 percent of Puerto Rico’s drivers came to work after the hurricane. For the remaining drivers, concerns that they might be looted made them hesitant to drive their trucks. Puerto Rico’s infrastructure was also crippled by the hurricane, making communication difficult because of a lack of cell phone reception.
Initially, the FEMA handbook specifies that the local government is responsible for local distribution, but the devastation in Puerto Rico has slowed down relief efforts considerably and most responsibilities have therefore fallen on the U.S. Military. The Army Corps of Engineers was immediately mobilized to oversee infrastructure improvements and are now also overseeing fuel distribution to cope with the trucking problem.
Despite some odd media reports to the contrary, the military has been present in Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria hit. They are a major part of the relief efforts. The governor and other mayors have praised FEMA and the President’s relief efforts. Although the local distribution of supplies is the responsibility of the governor and then each city’s mayor, the military has not left Puerto Rico and continues to help.
[Featured Image by John Raedle/Getty Images]