Mon, Oct 02, 2017 - Page 5 News List

Trump lashes out at San Juan mayor

‘POOR LEADERSHIP’:The US president accused the Democrats of telling San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz to be ‘nasty to Trump,’ without providing any evidence


San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, left, talks to reporters outside the government center at the Roberto Clemente Coliseum in San Juan on Saturday.

Photo: Reuters

US President Donald Trump on Saturday lashed out at the mayor of San Juan and other officials in storm-ravaged Puerto Rico, contemptuous of their claims of a laggard US response to the natural disaster that has imperiled the island’s future.

“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 said in a series of tweets a day after the capital’s mayor appealed for help “to save us from dying.”

“They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort,” Trump wrote from his New Jersey golf club.

The tweets were a biting attack on the leader of a community in crisis.

After 10 days of desperation, with many still unable to access essentials, including food and water, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz on Friday accused the Trump administration of “killing us with the inefficiency” after Hurricane Maria.

She implored the US president, who is set to visit the US territory tomorrow, 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, her voice breaking with rage.

Trump’s critical response was an unusually pointed rebuke from the president in the heat of a disaster — a time when leaders often put aside partisan differences in the name of solidarity.

However, it was a reminder of Trump’s unrelenting penchant for punching back against critics, whatever the circumstances.

Trump has said he is doing everything possible to help the “great people of PR!” and has pledged to spare no effort to help the island recover from Maria’s ruinous aftermath.

He has also repeatedly applauded his government’s recovery efforts, saying US military personnel and first responders have done “an amazing job,” despite the significant logistical challenges.

Thousands more Puerto Ricans have received water and rationed food as an aid bottleneck has begun to ease.

However, many, especially those outside the capital, remain desperate for necessities, including water, power and fuel.

Trump’s administration has tried to combat the perception that he failed to quickly grasp the magnitude of Maria’s destruction and has given the US commonwealth less attention than he had bestowed on states like Texas, Louisiana and Florida after they were hit by hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Trump had repeatedly praised the residents of those states as strong and resilient, saying that Texas could “handle anything.”

US administration officials have held numerous news conferences providing updates on relief efforts and Trump on Saturday spoke by telephone from New Jersey with FEMA Administrator Brock Long, Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rossell and other several other local officials.

However, after a week of growing criticism, the US president’s patience appears to be waning.

“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,” the US president said, without substantiation.

“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, requesting that Cruz report to a joint field office.

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