Puerto Ricans fight back on Trump’s assertion that the island’s citizens “want everything to be done for them when it should be community effort,” in regards to Hurricane Maria, on Sept. 30.
This follows President Trump’s criticism of Carmen Yulin Cruz, the mayor of San Juan, who was also skeptical of the U.S. president’s lack of initiative in sending aid to the devastated region.
“The Mayor of San Juan, who was very complimentary only a few days ago, has now been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump,”
Trump tweeted, according to The New York Times. “Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and other of Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help.”
Cruz, who told Anderson Cooper on Saturday that she is not a democrat, said, “He is looking for excuses for things not going well. I have no time for small politics or for comments that do not add to the situation here.”
The Puerto Ricans who supported the mayor’s efforts and called for additional relief, were contacted by CNN.
“I’m amazed that he has the gall to say Puerto Ricans expect everything to be done for them,” Griselmarie Alemar, of Stratford, Connecticut, said.
“They are working exhaustively to lift themselves up. We are citizens. We pay taxes. We serve in the military,” he continued.
President Trump has asserted that Puerto Rico should be less dependent on the federal government for aid, reported The New York Times:
“They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort,” he tweeted. “10,000 Federal workers now on Island doing a fantastic job. The military and first responders, despite no electric, roads, phones, etc., have done an amazing job. Puerto Rico was totally destroyed.”
During a hurricane briefing on Tuesday, Trump likened the devastation to “a real catastrophe like [Hurricane] Katrina,” reported NPR.
The president, on his trip to the affected area, was filmed throwing paper towels into a crowd in efforts to offer supplies to those who were in need.
Trump also misspoke during the briefing: “Few people have ever even heard of of a Category 5 hitting land, but it did hit land, and boy did it hit land.” he said. However, Hurricane Maria was a Category 4 storm when it hit Puerto Rico.
Sixteen lives were lost during the hurricane. “I hate to tell you Puerto Rico, but you’ve thrown our budget a little out of whack because we’ve spent a lot of money on Puerto Rico, and that’s fine. We’ve saved a lot of lives,” Trump said during his visit.
“What is your death count as of this moment?” he asked officials,” 17? 16 people certified, 16 people versus in the thousands.”
Trump also took a stab at Cruz through applauding Governor Ricardo Rossello: “He’s not even from my party and he started right at the beginning appreciating what we did,” he said.
“Right from the beginning, this governor did not play politics. He was saying it like it was, and he gave us the highest rates.”
On Trump’s statement that the devastation would be fixed with community intervention, Evelyn Torres, a Puerto Rican citizen, said, “It is a community effort. It is a humanity effort.”
Abner Breban of Atlanta speaks about the sense of humanity she experienced. Breban started a Facebook group called “Atlanta Levanta a Puerto Rico, which has collected donations to hurricane victims.
“The Puerto Rican community has come together like never in the city of Atlanta.”
The president’s reaction to the request of more aid has initiated criticisms of his leadership in crisis, which contrasts the praise he has received for his responses to the hurricanes in Texas and Florida.
Some think that there should be more discourse dedicated to the hurricane, especially due to the fact that Puerto Rico is an United States territory.
Sophomore English Creative Writing student Melanie Broman said, “I’ve definitely heard about it, but I don’t think it should be something that is brushed over.”
“Even though we don’t live in the same area, we should all be aware of what is going on in the world,” Emma Ientile, a sophomore communication student at Monmouth, said.
Speaking on the same wavelength as Breban, she said, “Humanity is what matters most, and caring for and helping others in need is how we keep faith in humanity. If we choose to stay oblivious to topics like this one then how can we expect the same compassion and support when natural disasters or other devastating events occur in our own backyards?”
Trump sent his tweets on Saturday from his Bedminster, N.J. golf club.
Nicholas Messina, a professor of communication thought this of Trump’s response to the aftermath of Hurricane Maria:
“It reinforces the fact that the man quite literally has no knowledge of the policy structure of this country, and frankly I don’t believe that he legitimately knew that Puerto Ricans are Americans and that beyond anything else is frightening,” Messina said.
“He doesn’t…comprehend the breadth and scope of the job.”