October 1st, 2017
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – In an emotionally-charged press conference late on Friday, the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Carmen Cruz, asked US President Donald Trump to make sure someone is in charge of disaster relief following the devastation caused to the island by Hurricane Maria that is up to the task of saving lives.
“We are dying here and you are killing us with the inefficiency and the bureaucracy,” she said. “We have no time for patience any more. I am begging, begging anyone that can hear us to save us from dying. I am done being polite, I am done being politically correct, I am mad as hell because my people’s lives are at stake.”
She said that if the relief efforts do not get the food and water into people’s hands, “what we are going to see is something close to genocide.”
Cruz’s pleas came in stark contrast to earlier self-congratulatory claims by Trump that his administration has been achieving “incredible” results.
“We have done an incredible job,” Trump said, which may be close to the truth, since no one believed it.
On Thursday, Elaine Duke, acting DHS secretary, echoed Trump’s claims, describing the situation as a “good news story.”
“The relief effort is under control, it is proceeding very well. The feedback from…the mayor of San Juan Carmen Yulin Cruz have all been positive,” Duke said, apparently equally divorced from reality.
On Friday, however, she admitted on a visit to Puerto Rico that the situation was “not satisfactory.”
Lt. General Jeff Buchanan, who is overseeing the US military response to the crisis in Puerto Rico, also said on Friday that there weren’t enough troops or equipment for the Puerto Rico recovery efforts.
On Saturday, instead of attempting to correct the situation on the ground in Puerto Rico, Trump elected instead to launch a series of personal attacks on Twitter against Cruz – the only public official that seems to be making a difference there.
“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.
“Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help. They…
“Want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort. 10,000 Federal workers now on Island doing a fantastic job,” Trump tweeted.
Retired Lt. General Russel Honore, who oversaw the US military response to Hurricane Katrina, fired back at Trump over his early morning tweets attacking Puerto Rican leaders.
“The mayor’s living on a cot, and I hope the president has a good day at golf,” Honore said in an appearance on CNN.
The former lieutenant general said Trump needs to give Buchanan “anything he thinks he wants.”
“[Trump should] order the NORTHCOM commander to be on scene. She has the order to give Gen. Buchanan anything he needs, and that’s what’s needed right now,” Honore said. “We need more boots on the ground to help kick-start the system.”
Democratic lawmakers also blasted Trump’s tweets early Saturday attacking the mayor of San Juan.
Various lawmakers condemned Trump for targeting the mayor while spending the weekend at his golf resort in New Jersey.
“Today our president will sit in his opulent golf resort attacking hurricane first responders,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) tweeted.
“The Trump administration was slow off the mark,” said Rep. Darren Soto, D-Fla., the first lawmaker of Puerto Rican descent elected by the state of Florida to Congress. “We’ve invaded small countries faster than we’ve been helping American citizens in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.”
Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) ripped the president’s response in a statement, calling the attacks “abhorrent”, “baseless”and “beneath the dignity of the office of the Presidency.”
“Although unsurprising and quite predictable, it is pathetic that the President has decided to attack – with the not so subtle veil of racism and sexism – those desperately begging for his help in their hour of need,” he said.
Photo: Mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Carmen Cruz