Millennium Post

Trump threatens Puerto Rico

With serving notice to Puerto Rico of withdrawing federal relief workers allegedly due to its failing infrastructure, US President Donald Trump had virtually threatened the US territory to abandon amid a staggering humanitarian crisis in the aftermath of twin hurricanes. And, under withering criticism from Puerto Ricans for his administration's flawed response to the devastation there, Trump had accused the territory responsible for its own plight, prompting an immediate backlash from Puerto Ricans and mainland lawmakers in both parties. It is really surprising move from the US President at a time, when Hurricanes, Irma, and Maria delivered a crushing blow, much of Puerto Rico remains without power, and many of its 3.4 million residents still are struggling to find clean water, hospitals are short on medicine, commerce is slow, and basic services are unavailable. On the other hand, residents and elected officials of the island had responded to Trump's views with outrage and disbelief. Radio disc jockeys gasped as they read aloud the presidential statements, while political leaders charged that he lacked empathy and pleaded for help from fellow U.S. citizens on the mainland. Puerto Rico Guv Ricardo Rossello had also sought for help, stating, "The U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico are requesting the support that any of our fellow citizens would receive across our Nation." On the other hand, Carmen Yulín Cruz, the mayor of Puerto Rico's capital, San Juan, had strongly condemned the president's threats and derided him as a 'Hater in Chief'. Trump's threats to limit the emergency-worker footprint in Puerto Rico come as the House voted Thursday by an overwhelming margin, 353 to 69, to pass a 36.5 billion USD disaster aid package that includes provisions to avert a potential cash crisis in Puerto Rico prompted by Maria. The Senate is expected to take up the measure next week. Undergirding the sense that the administration hasn't come through in Puerto Rico is the belief that Trump simply doesn't care about the heavily Hispanic US territory. However, another way of looking at how troubling this should be for the administration is the comparison to Hurricane Katrina - the last major hurricane to see a botched federal response and cost the sitting president dearly. Nonetheless, it would be naive to Maria would become Trump's Katrina. As the president has pointed out that many more died in New Orleans in 2005 and there was also plenty to play out when it comes to the federal response. In both cases, one cannot overrule that Puerto Rico has still maintained its status as a US territory and not a state.
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