The mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico on Friday shot back at Donald Trump after the president argued “big decisions” have to be made about the cost of rebuilding the island, which is still reeling from a lack of basic necessities over a week after Hurricane Maria hit.
“The fact is that Puerto Rico has been destroyed by two hurricanes,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Big decisions will have to be made as to the cost of its rebuilding!”
…The fact is that Puerto Rico has been destroyed by two hurricanes. Big decisions will have to be made as to the cost of its rebuilding!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 29, 2017
San Juan Major Carmen Yulín Cruz, who’s been critical of the administration’s response in Puerto Rico, took issue with Trump’s comment Friday, telling CNN, “If we let them die, nobody is going to pay the debt!”
JUST NOW: "If we let them die, nobody is going to pay the debt!!"
The mayor of San Juan responding to POTUS comments on "costs." https://t.co/MAtlSNPUs9
— John Berman (@JohnBerman) September 29, 2017
One of Trump’s first remarks in response to the devastation in Puerto Rico was to complain about the “massive debt” owed by the U.S. territory.
“Texas & Florida are doing great but Puerto Rico, which was already suffering from broken infrastructure & massive debt, is in deep trouble..” Trump tweeted Monday.
Texas & Florida are doing great but Puerto Rico, which was already suffering from broken infrastructure & massive debt, is in deep trouble..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 26, 2017
Despite the president’s apparent focus on the “debt” and “costs” associated with an island that’s home to 3.5 million American citizens, the Trump administration has been adamant that the federal relief efforts are in full force. On Thursday, Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke said she’s “very satisfied” with the administration’s efforts.
“I know it is really a good news story in terms of our ability to reach people and the limited number of deaths that have taken place in such a devastating hurricane,” Duke said
Cruz on Friday rejected Duke’s assessment, telling CNN’s Alisyn Camerota, “Dammit, this is not a good news story.”
“This is a ‘people are dying’ story,” she said.