When President Trump visits the storm-ravaged island of Puerto Rico Tuesday he’ll be wading into a political storm fueled by his Twitter beef with the mayor of its capital city, San Juan, whom he attacked yesterday for showing “poor leadership” while pleading for help.
The island’s 3.5 million Americans are still reeling after two powerful hurricanes in two weeks decimated the Caribbean island’s power grid, flooded entire communities and left scores of residents without access to food or drinkable water.
“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,” Trump wrote on Twitter from his New Jersey golf club. “They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort.”
San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz hasn’t held back her criticism of the federal relief effort. She accused the Trump administration Friday of “killing us with the inefficiency” after Hurricane Maria, and she implored the president to “make sure somebody is in charge that is up to the task of saving lives.”
“I am begging, begging anyone that can hear us, to save us from dying,” Cruz said at a news conference Friday.
Trump accused Cruz of being egged into her biting criticisms by Democrats who told her she “must be nasty to Trump.”
Cruz wrote yesterday on Twitter her mission is singular.
“The goal is one: saving lives. This is the time to show our ‘true colors’. We cannot be distracted by anything else,” she wrote.
FEMA Administrator Brock Long piled onto the pushback against Cruz.
“The problem that we have with the mayor unfortunately is that unity of command is ultimately what’s needed to be successful in this response,” Long said.
Despite the myriad of logistical challenges, Trump has repeatedly applauded the first responders for “doing a fantastic job.”
Although thousands of Puerto Ricans are starting to get water and rationed food as an aid bottleneck eases, many, especially outside the capital, remain desperate for necessities.
Mario Torres, who lives in the former Air Force base in the coastal town of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, said the country was on the brink of disaster.
“I’m in shock. I can’t believe I’m not seeing more of a military response,” Torres said. “I thought this is the time when it would start to get better, but it’s getting worse. It’s very reminiscent of Katrina. Here now, it’s getting to the breaking…