President Donald Trump used Twitter again to direct his ire toward an island suffering post-hurricane devastation.
The president said last week that he might pull federal relief workers out of Puerto Rico as the island finds itself in a humanitarian crisis after Hurricane Maria. Trump targeted the island’s infrastructure and grid, declaring them disasters before Maria arrived and leaving up the Republican-led Congress to decide how much money should be devoted to recovery efforts.
“Electric and all infrastructure was disaster before hurricanes,” said Trump on Twitter. Trump also quoted television journalist Sharyl Attkisson when he typed “Puerto Rico survived the Hurricanes, now a financial crisis looms largely of their own making.”
Trump’s remarks drew the anger of many, including 32BJ SEIU President Hector Figueroa.
“President Trump’s remarks about abandoning federal relief efforts in Puerto Rico are more than cruel,” said Figueroa in a statement. “The president of the United States should continue reminding the American people that three weeks after Hurricane Maria hit the island, more than 3 million American citizens are still without electricity, the island’s health system is on life support, with patients dying, right now, because of minor complications. Food, water and gas are still hard to get, and in remote parts of the island things are much worse.” Figueroa is a member of VAMOS4PR, a stateside collective of labor, community, cultural and human rights groups helping Puerto Rico and members of the Puerto Rican diaspora.
San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz replied to Trump on Twitter, referring to him as a “hater in chief” and said his comments about Puerto Rico were “unbecoming of a commander in chief.”
Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello tweeted to Trump as well, saying that the island is simply asking for the same help that Houston received after Hurricane Harvey.
“The U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico are requesting the support that any of our fellow citizens would receive across our nation,” said Rossello.
Other organizations and celebrities have contributed to Puerto Rico’s recovery and relief through financial contributions or by sending food, supplies and aid of all kinds to the island. Former New York Yankee Bernie Williams, rapper Fat Joe, Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony and Jennifer Aniston have either donated money or had supplies flown to the island. But Figueroa said the island still needs federal help and shouldn’t have to beg for something everyone else in America gets without question.
“Many individuals and organizations have stepped up to contribute money, goods and their skills to the urgent needs on the island, because unlike the president they recognize that without consistent attention, more people in Puerto Rico will die,” stated Figueroa. “This is a catastrophe and the federal government needs to recognize the magnitude of the problem and provide the aid needed. Paper towels are not going to cut it; we need a Marshall plan for Puerto Rico and to wipe out the immoral debt that has made things worse and that everybody, even the president, knows can’t be repaid.”