President Donald Trump interrupted his weekend on golf links in New Jersey with a Saturday morning set of blistering tweets accusing the people living on the hurricane-ravaged island of Puerto Rico — who are trying to dig themselves out of wreckage and find food and clean drinking water — of being lazy and wanting “things to be done for them.”
Trump also went after Carmen Yulín Cruz, the embattled mayor of San Juan, who on Friday night made an emotional plea for help for the victims of Hurricane Maria.
What, exactly, did Cruz do to draw the ire of the president all the way from New Jersey? On Friday night, nine days after the hurricane struck Puerto Rico — with aid slow to trickle in and supplies running ever-low — Mayor Cruz said:
I cannot fathom the thought that the greatest nation in the world cannot figure out logistics for a small island. I am asking the President of the United States to make sure somebody is in charge that is up to the task of saving lives.if we don’t get the food and water into peoples’ hands what we are going to see is something close to a genocide.
The category 4 storm, which has left at least 16 dead on the island and left large swaths without power and diesel, has prompted largely self-congratulatory statements from President Trump, who on Friday expressed disbelief at how well his administration had handled the ongoing disaster.
“The loss of life — it’s always tragic — but it’s been incredible, the results that we’ve had with respect to loss of life. People can’t believe how successful that has been, relatively speaking,” he reportedly said.
On Thursday, acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke claimed that the Puerto Rico aid and recovery effort was a “good news story” because of the administration’s “ability to reach people and the limited number of deaths that have taken place in such a devastating hurricane.”
Cruz has countered the Trump administration’s narrative, saying Duke’s comments struck her as “irresponsible” as she watched her community struggling to cope the glacial pace of the response, with many still without power, food, water, and medical supplies. Cruz took to the airwaves and replied: “Damn it, this is not a ‘good news story. This is a ‘people are dying’ story. This is a life or death story. This is a story of a devastation that continues to worsen because people are not getting food and water.”
Cruz also quickly responded to Trump’s tweets on Saturday morning with images showing people helping each other at the time of crisis:
Trump and First Lady Melania Trump are due to visit Puerto Rico on Tuesday.