Donald Trump: ‘Absolute no’ on statehood for Puerto Rico
President Trump criticized Carmen Yulin Cruz, the mayor of San Juan, Monday as a “horror show” and as part of the reason he would be an “absolute no” on supporting statehood for Puerto Rico.
“With the mayor of San Juan as incompetent as she is and as bad as she is, Puerto Rico shouldn’t be talking about statehood until they get some people that really know what they’re doing,” Mr. Trump said in a radio interview with Geraldo Rivera.
He continued to blast Ms. Cruz as a “horror show” who was “so disrespectful” to military and Federal Emergency Management Agency responders in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. He accused her and the local leadership of botching FEMA deliveries. Mr. Trump also faulted the electrical grid for the trouble recovering from the storm.
CBS News reported that millions of water bottles were left on a tarmac in Puerto Rico, and the executive director of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration Carlos Mercader said it was FEMA’s responsibility to distribute them.
Puerto Rico’s Gov. Ricardo Rossello pushed back against the president’s comments Monday and the “unequal and colonial relationship” between the island and the mainland.
“The President said he is not in favor of statehood for the people of Puerto Rico based on a personal feud with a local mayor,” Mr. Rossello said in a statement. “This is an insensitive, disrespectful comment to over 3 million Americans who live in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico.”
Rep. Jenniffer Gonzalez, the congresswoman for Puerto Rico, also countered the president’s statements on Twitter while criticizing Ms. Cruz.
Ms. Gonzalez introduced the latest bipartisan legislative attempt to grant statehood for Puerto Rico in June.
Equality 4 Puerto Ricans shouldn’t be held up by one bad mayor who’s leaving office in 2020 do not represent the people who voted twice for statehood. In 2012 61%, and 97% in 2017. Equality statehood are much bigger than any lousy temporary politician. Equality transcends Jenniffer Gonzlez (@Jenniffer2012) September 24, 2018
The president’s comments come on the heels of controversial remarks about the massive death toll on the island resulting from Hurricane Maria.
The Category 4 storm followed just weeks after Category 5 Hurricane Irma grazed the island.
He rejected the finding of an independent study conducted by George Washington University that found nearly 3,000 people died in the aftermath of the storm by comparing the total death toll to historical data from the past ten years.
The government of Puerto Rico raised the official count from 64 to 2,947 after the study was published.
“3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico. When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths. As time went by it did not go up by much. Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000,” Mr. Trump tweeted.
“This was done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible when I was successfully raising Billions of Dollars to help rebuild Puerto Rico. If a person died for any reason, like old age, just add them onto the list. Bad politics. I love Puerto Rico!”
The president stuck by that sentiment in Monday’s interview, saying it the dramatic increase of deaths “not explainable.”