Trump’s tweets about Puerto Rico in the last 24 hours show a level of insensitivity and disregard for the well-being of the people of Puerto Rico that is appalling even coming from him. He seems to want us to believe that the Puerto Rican people can control the number of natural disasters they experience. In his warped logic, even before tropical storm Dorian hit the Island, Trump was gloating over alleged excessive federal largesse towards the Island, using misleading numbers, as is all too common for him.
Trump claimed the money Congress approved for Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria was “an all-time record of its kind for anywhere”. This couldn’t be further from the truth, as Congress has only approved close to $40 billion, of which only $14 billion have actually reached the island. Over 3,000 people died and Puerto Rico experienced the longest blackout in modern U.S. history. For Puerto Ricans, the aftermath of Hurricane Maria was not playing politics. It was a time for the president to lead and ensure that U.S. citizens could rely on their government to support them during a time of devastation, loss, and for far too many, death.
I say enough is enough. The Trump administration needs to stop blaming victims like the people of Puerto Rico, as he usually does after tragedy strikes communities of color and focus on producing concrete policies that work towards solving issues, not exacerbating them.
When Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico it left tens of thousands without food, water, clothing, homes, electricity, and medical care. The Trump administration's botched response to this domestic disaster was anything but humane. The president continuously denied the number of casualties, refused to send the adequate amount of federal resources, and made a political spectacle out of the entire situation.
Trump’s continued obsession with “teaching us a lesson” is a reflection of the administration's desire to divide and treat Puerto Ricans as "the other." As San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Soto put it: “Trump needs to be quiet, 'calm down', get out of the way and make way for those of us who are actually doing the work on the ground”.
When Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico the combination of an inadequate federal response, an inept local government, and a man-made precarious fiscal reality created one of the deadliest natural disasters in U.S. history.
As we approach the second anniversary of Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico is experiencing another storm. And yet again, the president shows arrogance and contempt when he should show leadership. In times of crisis, presidents have traditionally offered empathy and encouragement. Every day, President Trump has multiple opportunities to act presidential, and he always manages to royally disappoint. At a time when the people of Puerto Rico have shown that they will stand up and demandrespect, Trump has shown disdain and disrespect. Puerto Ricans recently showed the world the mettle we are made of. My bet is on the people of Puerto Rico.
The author, who is born and raised in Puerto Rico, served as the first Latina Speaker of the New York City Council and is now running for Congress to represent the 15th Congressional district in New York.