Trump Mishandles Puerto Rico

Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, so what did President Donald Trump do? He went to Alabama to support a Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate, although his nominee lost to another Republican. He has continued his campaign against American baseball players who kneel when the national anthem is played. He has continued his threats against North Korea, and Vice President Mike Pence has told representatives of foreign countries to cut ties with North Korea. Pence said the U.S. does not have relations with North Korea. Finally, Trump, after stopping by Las Vegas, visited Puerto Rico, where he praised rescue efforts.

The streets of Puerto Rico are drowning in hurricane waters; the electricity and phone lines are cut off, along with supply lines to the United States. The president claimed in a tweet that all the responsibility fell to the mayor of San Juan. He said her leadership was weak and that Democrats told her to say bad things about him. San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz Soto did not say anything about the president, but she did address the world, speaking of the destructive hurricane. She said “People are dying in this country. I am begging, begging anyone that can hear us, to save us from dying.”

Cruz worked 24 hours a day to save Puerto Ricans, and when she responded to Trump’s insults, she said: “The most powerful man in the world is concerned with a 5-foot-tall, 120-pound little mayor of the city of San Juan.” Congressmen contacted her and journalists requested interviews. But she said it was essential to focus on executing the rescue missions.

Television actor Lin-Manuel Miranda,* who wrote the play “Hamilton” and played the lead role in it, has family members in Puerto Rico. He told President Trump in a tweet: “You’re going straight to hell” in a golf cart. And I’ve read things saying that kneeling baseball players are more important to Trump than people dying.

The strangest thing I’ve read, and if true, it’s the worst thing I’ve read in recent days, is that Trump owns a golf club in Puerto Rico named “Coco Resort,” and after Hurricane Maria destroyed the island, Trump [declared bankruptcy] on a $33 million dollar resort, and this is with the knowledge that Puerto Rico, before the hurricane, was suffering from a $70 billion debt after an entire decade of economic decline.

And I read that four members of the U.S. Congress were born in Puerto Rico. One of them is Luis Gutierrez, a Democrat from Illinois, who told Trump that he has been a disaster in aiding the 3.4 million Americans hit by Hurricane Maria. For readers’ information, the residents of Puerto Rico carry American citizenship, but their island is not a U.S. state, and therefore they do not elect representatives to Congress.

What has President Trump done to counter those that have criticized his handling of the disaster in Puerto Rico? He went to a golf club he owns in New Jersey, and from there, he went to Jersey City to follow the President’s Cup golf tournament. The president has now spent 68 days in his Florida golf club, but alleged in a tweet: “We have done a great job with the almost impossible situation in Puerto Rico … people are now starting to recognize the amazing work that has been done by [FEMA and] our great Military.”

If Trump’s concerns with golf and Twitter were useful, we would overlook his shortfalls in other areas. It suffices here to point out what Rex Tillerson said after his visit to China, that there are direct lines of communication with North Korea to solve the crisis of intercontinental missiles and nuclear tests. President Trump commented on Tillerson’s statement, saying that Tillerson was “wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man.” Perhaps the reader will remember that Tillerson defended President Trump last August when Trump warned North Korea of “fire and fury” and that Tillerson and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis spoke about exhausting diplomatic attempts before thinking about any other approach. Trump believes that he knows more than anyone else.

*Editor’s Note: Lin-Manuel Miranda is a composer, lyricist, playwright, and stage actor.

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