San Juan Mayor To Trump Admin: ‘Damnit, This Is Not A Good News Story’

JUAN LUIS MARTINEZ/GDA/El Nuevo Dia/Puerto Rico

The mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico on Friday disputed the assertion of a Trump administration official who said that the aftermath of Hurricane Maria was “a good news story.”

Asked how she thought the federal response to the storm in Puerto Rico was going, Acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke said Thursday from the White House that “I am very satisfied” and “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.”

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, the lead agency responding to the storm’s aftermath, is a part of DHS.

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, informed of the remarks on CNN Friday, was stunned. Much of the island is still unreachable by aide workers due to damaged infrastructure, and horrific stories of shortages of clean water, food and electricity are still streaming out of the island more than a week following the storm’s landfall.

“Well, maybe from where she’s standing it’s a good news story,” Cruz said after seeing a clip of Duke’s remarks. “When you are 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. When you have to pull people down from their buildings — I’m sorry, but that really upsets me and frustrates me.”

Cruz said the acting secretary should “come down here and visit the towns, and then make a statement like that.”

“This is — Damnit, this is not a good news story,” the mayor said, adding: “It is not a good news story when people are dying when they don’t have dialysis, and when their generators aren’t working and their oxygen is not providing for them.”

“Where is there good news here?” she said.

The Trump administration, including President Trump himself, has criticized the media for not showing the federal recovery effort in Puerto Rico in a good enough light. But Trump and others have also paid special attention to Puerto Rico’s debt in recent days, prompting concern that the fiscal oversight board to which Congress last year delegated financial authority over the island would prioritize bondholders over Puerto Ricans’ recovery needs.

Watch below via CNN:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously assistant editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and on Twitter @mattshuham.
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