By Caribbean News Now contributor
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — US President Donald Trump, whose lies, according to Vanity Fair, “are becoming exponentially more brazen”, this week again directed some of his latest terminological inexactitudes towards the government of Puerto Rico.
On Tuesday, Trump accused the island territory’s leaders of using federal relief funds to pay off “other obligations,” without any evidence of this whatsoever or specifying what these “other obligations” might be.
“The people of Puerto Rico are wonderful but the inept politicians are trying to use the massive and ridiculously high amounts of hurricane/disaster funding to pay off other obligations,” he said via Twitter.
“The US will NOT bail out long outstanding and unpaid obligations with hurricane relief money!” he continued.
San Juan mayor, Carmen Yulin Cruz, who has frequently butted heads with Trump on social media since last year’s deadly Hurricane Maria, wasted no time responding to the smear. Cruz immediately tweeted that none of the relief funds will be used to pay back creditors, which include American hedge funds.
“We finally AGREE on something,” Cruz told Trump.
Trump has a long history of feuding with Puerto Rican officials, especially Cruz, following Hurricane Maria’s September 2017 landfall. Last month, after Trump flatly denied the storm’s new official death toll – increased in August from 64 to 2,975 – Cruz slammed his “appalling” lack of respect for the dead.
In June 2015, a commission set up by the Puerto Rico House of Representatives issued a 23-page legislative report outlining how government officials in Puerto Rico conspired with Wall Street firms to commit $11 billion dollars in financial fraud.
According to the report, Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) paid previous bondholders with capital received from new investors, which is the classic hallmark of a Ponzi scheme.
“Noteworthy is the fact that the aforementioned took place in the face of the credit houses, whom, knowing this, and therefore PREPA’s technical insolvency, allowed this public corporation, and thus the people of Puerto Rico, to continue running into debt,” the report said.
The report claimed that the financial intermediaries and the institutional bondholders, despite being fully aware of PREPA’s dire fiscal situation, had no qualms with unjustly enriching themselves and with having the consequences of their negligent acts be paid for by the people of Puerto Rico.
Meanwhile, thousands of displaced Puerto Ricans now living in Florida are the voting targets of candidates in crucial races for governor and US Senate as well as other state and federal offices ahead of the November midterm elections.
Orlando-area Democratic Rep. Darren Soto, of Florida’s 9th Congressional District, who is running for re-election, said one way they have helped educate displaced Puerto Rican voters is by discussing Donald Trump.
“We have had some help in defining the parties by saying that if you support Trump, you’re Republican, if you oppose Trump you’re a Democrat,” Soto said.