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Trump Responds to New Puerto Rico Death Toll: 'I Think We Did a Fantastic Job'
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=25345"><span class="small">Zack Ford, ThinkProgress</span></a>   
Thursday, 30 August 2018 13:12

Ford writes: "During a press gaggle Wednesday, President Trump bragged that the federal government had done a 'fantastic job' with recovery efforts in Puerto Rico after the devastation of Hurricanes Irma and Maria last year."

Mother Isamar holds her baby Saniel at their home under reconstruction following Hurricane Maria, December 23, 2017, in San Isidro, Puerto Rico. Their neighborhood remained without electricity nearly three months after Hurricane Maria made landfall. (photo: Mario Tama/Getty)
Mother Isamar holds her baby Saniel at their home under reconstruction following Hurricane Maria, December 23, 2017, in San Isidro, Puerto Rico. Their neighborhood remained without electricity nearly three months after Hurricane Maria made landfall. (photo: Mario Tama/Getty)


Trump Responds to New Puerto Rico Death Toll: 'I Think We Did a Fantastic Job'

By Zack Ford, ThinkProgress

30 August 18


"It's a lie. He just simply is lying through his teeth."

uring a press gaggle Wednesday, President Trump bragged that the federal government had done a “fantastic job” with recovery efforts in Puerto Rico after the devastation of Hurricanes Irma and Maria last year. On Tuesday, Puerto Rico’s government had revised the death toll from 64 to 2,975 following a study from George Washington University.

In his comments, Trump attempted to manage expectations, claiming that the island’s power plant was already “dead,” “shut,” and “bankrupt” before the hurricanes even hit. He also insisted that recovery was slower than similar efforts in Florida and Texas based on the mere fact that they are land-based whereas Puerto Rico is an island.

Shortly after Trump’s remarks, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz spoke to MSNBC about the new death toll, calling it “a very painful day and shameful day for Puerto Rico” and blaming Trump directly for those deaths.

“We died because bureaucracy and inefficiency took a hold of things,” she said. “We died because many in the political class in Puerto Rico decided to dance to Donald Trump’s tune rather than doing what everybody ought to do, which is tell the truth, no matter how might the person you’re telling the truth to seems.” She accused Trump of being “incapable of feeling solidarity and empathy.”

Responding to Trump’s newest comments about the power plant having already been closed, Cruz bluntly called it a lie. “He just simply is lying through his teeth,” she said. While she acknowledged that there had been power generation issues, she insisted, “We had electricity before Maria came.”

“This is just like telling somebody that’s gone through a fire that it’s their fault that they didn’t run fast enough,” she said. “You left us here to die because you were more concerned about the political spin than about the human reality that we were dying.”

Cruz is correct that, contrary to Trump’s claim, Puerto Rico did have power before the hurricane. The power grid was weak, but it was at least still functional.

The study that provides the new death toll estimate further corroborates Cruz’s criticism that political motivations disincentivized officials from producing an accurate tally of fatalities. Gov. Ricardo Rossello even admitted, “I agree I made mistakes,” but rejected the notion that political considerations impacted how officials communicated with the public after the devastation. It was only earlier this month that the Puerto Rico government had quietly admitted in a report to Congress that its estimate was closer to 1,427 deaths — still far higher than its previous official total of 64.

Trump has been widely criticized for his administration’s reaction to the disaster, but has repeatedly bragged that the administration has done a good job. A Harvard study released in June estimated the death toll could be as high as 5,000, but the White House insisted at the time that “the federal response was at a historic proportion.”

When the official death toll stood at only 16 last year, Trump told Puerto Ricans that they should feel “very proud” of how they weathered the storm. He also infamously tossed paper towels and toilet paper into a crowd, making a spectacle of the recovery effort.

Trump said Wednesday that Puerto Rico had a lot of difficulties before the hurricanes hit and “we’re straightening out the difficulties even now.”


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Last Updated on Thursday, 30 August 2018 13:38
 

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+4 # bubbiesue 2018-08-30 22:39
Bubbiesue rating: Mostly false.

If it weren't for DT I guess we wouldn't have to have fact checkers.

PR has made it clear the FEMA law needs updating to allow for repayment to the value of lost utilities, e.g., but not to the identical replacement when technology advances, thus allowing for payment for upgrading to solar and wind technology.
 
 
+6 # suziemama 2018-08-30 22:54
...and this is why I want to vomit every time Trump opens his mouth.
 
 
+5 # janie1893 2018-08-31 00:47
I wish just one person had thrown a package of towels back at Toad Trump. He is the sleaziest excuse for a human being that I have ever come across.
 
 
+4 # RLF 2018-08-31 06:06
Of course Trump thinks he did great. He brought in cronies, enabling the corruption and racism that has characterized the recovery. what two things are closer to this president's heart? He sees the recovery as perfect!
 
 
+4 # jcdav 2018-08-31 06:30
Fantastic execution of a policy of genocide by neglect. These are/were American Citizens This Administration is criminal in it's neglect of anyone in need.