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Puerto Rico isn’t about Trump or tweets, it’s about despair and desperation

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Donald Trump sent the worst possible message to the people of Puerto Rico when he criticized the mayor of San Juan, tweeting, “The Mayor of San Juan, who was very complimentary only a few days ago, has not been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump. 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. They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort. 10,000 federal workers now on island doing a fantastic job.”

After that, Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz stepped in front of the cameras and literally groveled.

“I will do what I never thought I was going to do. I am begging, begging anyone who 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,” she said.

One of these officials is concerned with the people on the island, and the other is concerned with being criticized. I will leave you to deduce which is which.

“Workers” are not chess pieces or pawns to be moved around at will. This is not Venezuela, which is actually half the distance to the U.S. island territory than the American mainland. Our country–America–does not believe in dictator-like control of “workers.” The “workers” are at home, trying not to die, with no access to food, potable water, electricity, communications, or health care services. How, pray tell, does Trump expect them to participate in a “community effort?”

As Aaron Blake wrote in the Washington Post, Trump “doesn’t quite get it.” Maybe the president will get it when he visits the ravaged island. Maybe seeing the faces of suffering people will open up a light in his heart and distract him from being so defensive and thin-skinned.

Listen, 10,000 federal workers anywhere “doing a fantastic job” is not a bad thing, but I can also imagine it’s a nightmare of red tape, inefficiency, and crossed signals. FEMA is pretty stretched these day, with Houston, all of Florida, and now Puerto Rico on its plate–adding the military is certainly a good thing.

Perspectives

Trump slams Puerto Rico: ‘They want everything to be done for them’ | TheHill

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/353216-trump-criticizes-san-juan-mayors-poor-leadership-during-puerto-rico“Actually, I was asking for help. I wasn’t saying anything nasty about the president,” Cruz said on MSNBC following the tweets. “It’s not about politics, it’s not about petty comments, it’s about moving forward, putting boots on the ground and saving lives.”

Democrats slammed Trump’s response to Cruz and Puerto Rico’s relief efforts.

“Is your ego so fragile & your heart so cold that you’d attack a leader in the midst of a humanitarian crisis because she needs your help?” Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.) tweeted at Trump on Saturday.

Trump’s Twitter Rant Against Puerto Rico Hits All the Wrong Notes | The Resurgent

http://theresurgent.com/trumps-twitter-rant-against-puerto-rico-hits-all-the-wrong-notes/“Maybe from where she’s standing, it’s a good news story,” Cruz said. “When you’re drinking from a creek, it’s not a good news story. When you don’t have food for a baby, it’s not a good news story.”

“Damnit, this is not a good news story,” she continued. “This is a people-are-dying story.”

“We have done an incredible job, considering there’s absolutely nothing to work with,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

“They’re taking care of their families and largely unable to get involved, largely unable to help,” he said. “Therefore, we’re forced to bring in truck drivers, security and many, many other personnel by the thousands. And we’re bringing them onto the island as we speak. We’ve never seen a situation like this.”

Trump doesn’t get it on Puerto Rico. He just proved it by lashing out at San Juan’s mayor. – The Washington Post

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/09/30/trump-doesnt-get-it-on-puerto-rico-he-just-proved-it-by-lashing-out-at-san-juans-mayor/?utm_term=.a2010685c6b6There has been anecdotal evidence that Trump doesn’t quite get it. He has repeatedly misstated the size of the hurricane that hit Puerto Rico. He has repeatedly talked about what a tough state the island was in to begin with — as if to shift blame. He has talked repeatedly about how Puerto Rico is an island “in the middle of the ocean” — as if to temper expectations. He has even talked about how Puerto Rico might be made to repay the cost of its recovery. And he’s decided to take a weekend at his golf club in New Jersey right now, even as the scope of the problems in Puerto Rico is growing.

Why Puerto Rico Is Not Trump’s Katrina – The future of business

https://www.fastcompany.com/40474782/why-puerto-rico-is-not-trumps-katrinaHurricane Maria’s destruction of Puerto Rico on September 20 was an entirely predictable crisis. For a week, meteorologists charted the path of Maria as it moved through the northeastern Caribbean and devastated Dominica before smashing into Puerto Rico, which had been hit hard by Hurricane Irma two weeks before.

Reactions

Final Thoughts

It’s not about tweets, or Trump. It’s about saving lives. The death toll of Maria on this small island will end up largely in Trump’s hands, for good or for ill, just like Katrina did for Bush. Trying to duck responsibility by lashing out at those closest to the disaster is counterproductive. It’s like a surgeon blaming the anesthesiologist while the patient dies.

The people of Puerto Rico need to hear a message of hope, of love, and of care. They don’t need to hear their president tell them everything is hunky dory because 10,000 FEMA workers are on the island of over 3 million people, then level blame at the residents for not doing enough.

It’s precisely the wrong, and cruelest possible, message.

Scarlett is a mom and a friend. She blogs for a living but really prefers to read more than write. She writes mostly about politics, but occasionally delves into book and movie reviews.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Eileen

    September 30, 2017 at 9:34 pm

    I don’t think he should have tweeted that, but seriously, did they have a plan? How can Fema do everything for them? The mayor can make a custom t-shirt (we’re dying) but can’t unload food shooting at the dock? Seriously? So every state doesn’t plan and just waits for the federal govt to step in?

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