Washington - Donald Trump and the White House have stepped up their campaign to limit disaster relief funds to Puerto Rico, with direct accusations against the government and the island´s politicians.
In his tweets late on Monday, President Trump accused the island's politicians of being "incompetent” or “corrupt," saying the Puerto Rican government "can’t do anything right " and insisting that Puerto Rico “got more money than Texas and Florida combined,” after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
Yesterday, Trump lashed out at the island's politicians again, after the Senate failed Monday to advance a bill to mitigate the 2018 natural disasters amid fight over aid to Puerto Rico.
While Democrats want to approve of all the initiatives for the island that the House ratified in January, Republicans are basically offering the $600 million in nutrition assistance included in all legislations that were introduced.
“Puerto Rico got 91 Billion Dollars for the hurricane, more money than has ever been gotten for a hurricane before, & all their local politicians do is complain & ask for more money. The pols are grossly incompetent, spend the money foolishly or corruptly, and only take from USA," Trump said in one of his tweets yesterday, noting that “the people of Puerto Rico are GREAT.”
Although Trump claims Puerto Rico has received $91 billion in federal assistance to mitigate the crisis exacerbated by Hurricane María, official data indicate that the money pledged to the island is close to $45 billion and more than half of those funds have not been disbursed.
In one of his Monday tweets, Trump referred to San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, who strongly denounced internationally what she described as a slow and inefficient federal response to Hurricane María, which caused nearly 3,000 deaths and damage for more than $100 billion.
While he described the Puerto Rican government as incompetent or corrupt – without mentioning a specific case – he referred to Mayor Cruz as "crazed and incompetent.”
"President Trump continues to embarrass himself and the Office he holds. He is unhinged and thus lies about the money received by Puerto Rico. HE KNOWS HIS RESPONSE was inefficient at best. He can huff and puff all he wants but he cannot escape the death of 3,000 on his watch," Cruz said.
Meanwhile, the governor hit back at Trump on Twitter and said: “Mr. President: STOP spreading misinformation! #PuertoRico has not received $91b (only 300M in permanent work). It's not "us" vs "them".
A few days ago, the governor, faced with Trump's efforts to limit funds to the island, said that "If the bully gets close, I'll punch the bully in the mouth."
President Trump has been intending to stop or limit federal aid to the island, at least since fall.
But, he has expressed concerns about the cost of the emergency in Puerto Rico since the beginning of the emergency. “I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you've thrown our budget a little bit out of whack,“ Trump said on October 3, 2017, shortly after a visit to the island after the hurricane.
In an interview on MSNBC, White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley said Governor Rosselló Nevares has done a horrible job and added that the government had a “systematic mismanagement” of the aid they sent to the Puerto Rico.
While in his tweets Trump described Puerto Rico as "a place," Gidley referred to the island as "that country.” "With all we’ve done in that country, they’ve had a systematic mismanagement of the goods and services we’ve sent to them ... You’ve seen food just rotting in the ports. Their governor has done a horrible job. He’s trying to make political hay in a political year, and he’s trying to find someone to take the blame off of him for not having a grid and not having a good system in that country at all " Gidley said.
Democratic Representative Nydia Velázquez asked President Trump and the White House to “stop distorting the facts and misleading the American people about #PuertoRico,” and stressed that residents "that country" are U.S. citizens who have fought in U.S. wars.