A Project for Better Journalism chapter

Trump’s Puerto Rico response unimpressive

Late last month, deep into efforts to set her city right again after the devastation following Hurricane Maria, the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico released a video begging for help following Trump’s inadequate response to devastation from the storm.

“People are dying in this country,” Carmen Yulín Cruz Soto said in the video. “I am begging, begging anyone that can hear us, to save us from dying. If anybody out there is listening to us, we are dying, and you are killing us with the inefficiency and the bureaucracy.”

Instead of reacting to the situation in Puerto Rico with concern and compassion, President Trump has been critical of the territory’s leadership and impatient with the crises. He seems to have forgotten that U.S. territories are part of America and that Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens. Trump recently said that he met with the “president of the Virgin Islands” despite the fact that he himself is the president of the Virgin Islands. During a recent visit to Puerto Rico, Trump said that hurricane Maria had not been a “real disaster.”

Trump’s response to the hurricane has been completely inadequate. Most of the island still lacks power, and it probably won’t be restored for several months. Food is scarce. Residents are drinking contaminated water. Homes have roofs torn off or are completely flattened. One firm estimates that the storm could cost Puerto Rico somewhere between $45 and $90 billion.

Trump blamed the lack of adequate response on the fact that Puerto Rico is an island; however, the military manages to operate across oceans everyday. If Trump really wanted to help Puerto Rico, logistics would not be a problem.

Trump’s administration needs to recognize that as American citizens, and as human beings, Puerto Ricans deserve a fair shot at recovery, just as Trump provided Texas and Louisiana.