Puerto Rico Making Progress Despite San Juan Mayor and Politics

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico’s San Juan Mayor, Carmen Yulín Cruz took to the microphone last week nearly screaming, “Can anybody hear us,” and stated, “You are killing us.” She was directing her remarks at President Donald J. Trump and the federal government. Cruz says relief efforts are too slow, inadequate, and chaotic. Oddly enough, she made her remarks standing in front of pallets of food and water sent to Puerto Rico.

Cruz had previously praised the Trump administration for relief efforts but now seems more intent on criticizing those efforts and seeking media recognition.

The mayor’s comments started a political firestorm. In a tweet, President Trump accused the mayor of “poor leadership.” The president also indicated that the island’s residents were not doing enough to help themselves. He may have a point. Cruz decided to conduct a long and dramatic news conference instead of distributing the food and water sitting on pallets behind her.

Reports about the pending storm warned that Hurricane Maria would hit Puerto Rico early Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017. The warnings said Maria would be a Category 5 hurricane with winds as high as 150 miles an hour.

It appears that the city of San Juan was completely unprepared. Leading up to the predicted storm, Mayor Cruz had an opportunity to put logistics and a workable plan in place for her city that would have eased suffering. She had to have known that a Category 5 hurricane would interrupt electricity.

Basic needs like food, water, and fuel would be scarce, especially, on the heels of Hurricane Irma. Did she even have an emergency plan for San Juan? The fact that the mayor reportedly continues to avoid planning and organization meetings that would benefit Puerto Rico residents is incomprehensible.

Talking to CNN, FEMA administrator Brock Long stated, “The problem that we have with the mayor unfortunately is that unity of command is ultimately what’s needed to be successful in this response.” He suggested she visit a field office.

Guaynabo Mayor Angel Perez Otero says Mayor Cruz has not shown up to FEMA and U.S. military coordination meetings with Puerto Rican leaders and accused Cruz of playing politics.

Mayor Otero spoke highly of President Trump and the relief efforts.

White House Spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that Cruz had been invited to the FEMA command center several times but so far has refused to come.

Unfortunately, the natural disaster of Hurricane Maria has become the latest political attack on President Trump. All the usual mouthpieces are weighing in. Mainstream media, notably CNN, whose TV hosts thrive on attacking the president, echoes the San Juan mayor in criticizing relief efforts and the president.

An article published by the Daily Beast and penned by Joy-Ann Reid, the MSNBC host of “AM Joy,” may be the silliest attack on the president to date. The title of Reid’s nonsensical rant is “There He Goes Again: Trump’s Demented, Racist Saturday Morning Puerto Rico Tweetstorm.”

Although, not in the title, Reid also tries to paint the president as sexist too. Here is how she worded it: “It was, of course, predictable that criticism of the Trump administration’s pitifully inadequate response to Hurricane Maria by a woman – and a brown woman at that…”

Wow, are people now calling Americans who live in Puerto Rico, “brown people?”

It is highly possible that if it had been Hurricane Harvey that hit the island, Reid would be reporting: “Harvey” is a sexist, racist storm hired by Trump. CNN would have a panel of eight bloviators, spending 10 minutes each, saying the same thing and all using the coordinated list of buzzwords.

Retired General Russel Honoré, told CNN: “He [Trump] doesn’t give a damn about people of color. An SOB that rides around in Air Force One is denying services needed by the people of Puerto Rico. I hate to say it that way, but there’s no other way to say it.”

Really? Does anyone take this kind of statement seriously? The general should be ashamed of using a disaster to spread political propaganda and embarrassed for sounding like a nut job.

Honoré should be aware that uttering son of a B***h, even when using the acronym SOB, is now considered racist according to Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas.

Grandstanding on the NFL protest saga, on the floor of the House of Representatives, Lee stated: “There is no regulation that says these young men cannot stand against the dishonoring of their mothers by you calling for the firing of a son-of-a-b. You tell me which of those children’s mothers are a son-of-a-b. That is racism. You cannot deny it, you cannot run for it, and I kneel in honor of them.” This is confusing but it is her exact wording.

Is there anything anybody can say anymore without being labeled  a racist?

Of course, using the term SOB may only be racist when Trump uses it.

This country does in fact still have problems dealing with racism, but how can actual racism be destroyed when people like Reid and Lee continually cry wolf where there is no wolf? Labeling everything as racist trivializes the meaning and hinders the ability to overcome real racism.

Meanwhile, thousands of people are working to help the people of Puerto Rico rebuild their island. The mayor’s comments, politics, and #Fakenews is not affecting the progress of relief efforts.

Puerto Rico Congresswoman Jenniffer González-Colón appeared on “Justice with Judge Jeanine” on Fox News. She reports they are still receiving supplies and this weekend they will receive 600 medics, 700 hospital beds, and generators for hospitals. Eighty percent of the island is still without power due to the sheer decimation of the infrastructure. Only a small percent of the metropolitan area has communications, which is causing the biggest problem, she said.

Hurricane Irma left one million people in Puerto Rico without power. One week later, the already damaged infrastructure has been completely wiped out by Hurricane Maria. The entire island lost electricity, leaving residents in desperate conditions. The destroyed communication systems are creating a severe logistics nightmare for organizing relief efforts.

The congresswoman says that 4,000 federal employees were in Puerto Rico before, during, and after both hurricanes.

According to FEMA, search and rescue teams, and law enforcement officials have rescued 843 people.
As of Saturday, 11 highways are now clear. Sixty percent of gas stations are open and operating, and 70 percent of the ports are open. About half the grocery stores, as well as other stores, are open for business.

Authorities have been able to restore electricity to over 50 hospitals. According to water officials, water is running to 55 percent of the area, and about 33 percent of telecommunications have been restored.

Approximately, two million liters of water and over one million meals have been provided by FEMA and other organizations. In some areas, the devastation to infrastructure is so severe that supplies had to be air dropped or delivered with helicopters.

Rafael Surillo, the mayor of Yabucoa, says his municipality was on their own without electricity and no way to communicate for the first week. The mayor said: “This phenomenon was unprecedented. We are learning here. No one underestimated the storm’s power, but the magnitude and scale of the destruction has been overwhelming.”

Opinion by Laurel Fee
Edited by Jeanette Smith


Townhall: Other Puerto Rican Mayor: Trump Has Been Great, San Juan’s Mayor Has Been AWOL
CNN: Trump attacks San Juan mayor over hurricane response
NBC News: Puerto Rico Crisis: San Juan Mayor Pleads for Federal Aid, Trump Hits Back
The Washington Post: Puerto Rico has a long history with tropical storms. None of them were like Hurricane Maria.
Justice with Judge Jeanine of Fox News: Judge Jeanine interviews Congresswoman Jenniffer González

Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Gage Skidmore Flickr Page – Creative Commons License