Mayor Carmen Cruz of San Juan, Puerto Rico blasted President Donald Trump’s assertion that his administration’s response to Hurricane Maria in 2017 was an “unsung success” and “incredibly successful.”
“The president keeps adding insult to injury and I think his words are despicable,” Cruz said during a CNN interview on Tuesday. “They really do not have any connection with reality.”
“Everything is about him and political posturing,” Cruz added. “The man has no idea, he has no solidarity, no sympathy, and no empathy for anything that does not make him look good.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Trump boasted about his administration’s efforts following Hurricane Maria, which devastated the region and left an estimated 3,000 people dead in its aftermath. A government-funded study indicated that Maria was the second deadliest storm in the US, while a separate study conducted by Harvard University researchers estimated around $90 billion worth of damage.
“Puerto Rico was incredibly successful,” Trump said, adding that the US territory was fraught with issues prior to the hurricane. “It was one of the best jobs that’s ever been done with respect to what this is all about.”
Cruz, who has criticized the administration’s hurricane-relief effort in the past, took notice of Trump’s glowing remarks.
“Well, I’m sorry sir, shame on you,” she said. “You did not do a good job in Puerto Rico. If he thinks that 3,000 people dying on his watch is a good news story or is an ‘unsung success,’ nobody is going to be singing his praises. Because this was a despicable act of neglect on the part of his administration.”
Sixty-four people were killed as a result of the hurricane, according to initial official estimates. But that number was highly disputed and the Puerto Rican government withheld its data, forcing news organizations like CNN to take legal action over the data’s release.
“Unfortunately, most of the political class in Puerto Rico, when the president says ‘jump,’ they say ‘how high,'” Cruz said. “In a humanitarian crisis … you should not be just having a parade of self-accolades. You should never be content with everything we did.”
“I’m not content with everything,” Cruz added. “I did I should have done more. We all should have done more.”
Cruz said she’s been in contact with officials in North Carolina ahead of Hurricane Florence, which is expected to be the first Category 4 storm to hit the state. Florence’s 130 mph winds are expected to make landfall late Thursday night or early Friday morning.
“We know how it feels. We know how much they’re going to have ahead of them. And not only our prayers, but it’s time to pay it forward.”
“This is a stain on the president,” Cruz said. “And the world has seen what he does. He says he’s done a good job when 3,000 people have died? Well, God bless us all if this man continues on this path.”