San Juan mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz has denounced President Trump for making light of the death and destruction caused by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico during his five-hour visit to the island on this week. In particular, Yulin Cruz questioned Trump’s decision to imitate a basketball motion while throwing out supplies to people in need, as well as remarks he made suggesting that Puerto Ricans should be grateful that fewer people had died as a result of the storm than during “a real catastrophe” like Hurricane Katrina. During his public comments, Trump at one point turned to the governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rosello, to ask how many people had actually died as a result of the storm.
“Seventeen? Sixteen people certified. Sixteen people versus in the thousands,” said Trump, referring to 1,833 people who died during Katrina. Trump would go on to add that Puerto Ricans had “thrown our budget a little out of whack … but that’s fine.”
After Trump’s visit, the mayor said that the death count was still unofficial due to lack of communication, but that the number of people known to be killed by the storm had risen to 34.
According to the BBC, Trump’s only visit in the city was to a wealthy part of town, where he was seen lobbing provisions to residents like basketballs and joking while handing out solar-powered flashlights. “You don’t need ‘em anymore,” he was heard saying about the flashlights, according to The Washington Post, in spite of the fact that 90 percent of the island remained without power or phone communications. After his trip, Trump tweeted that he had “a great day.”
A great day in Puerto Rico yesterday. While some of the news coverage is Fake, most showed great warmth and friendship.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 4, 2017
Speaking with MSNBC, Yulin Cruz said she came away with a different impression of Trump’s trip. His meeting with the island’s mayors, she said, was “P.R.,” the footage of him throwing paper towels and provisions was “terrible and abominable,” and his repeated references to the financial cost of the storm was “insulting to the people of Puerto Rico.” Trump’s apparent need to drive home that more people had died during Katrina, she added, “minimized our suffering.”
Appearing on Univision, Cruz was seen wearing a shirt that read “NASTY,” in reference to the fact that Trump had called her “nasty” over Twitter after she asked that the Federal Government do more to help people on the island.
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.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 30, 2017
“When someone is bothered by someone claiming lack water for drinking, lack of medicine for the sick, and lack of food for the hungry, that person has problems too deep to be explained in an interview,” said Cruz. “What is really nasty is that anyone would turn their back on the Puerto Rican people.”
Watch Cruz’s interview with Univision below.
— Al Punto Univision (@AlPunto) October 4, 2017