Puerto Rico continues to suffer, long after Hurricane Maria that brought the island to its knees has disappeared. 3.5 million Americans (yes, Americans) lack food, clean water, and electricity as they try to rebuild their shattered lives. The island’s government, overwhelmed by the devastation and hindered by the destruction and lack of power, is unable to make much progress in clearing up the mess and giving shelter and supplies to its people. The situation is becoming dire, especially since the US government has failed to show the same quick response that was evident in Florida and Texas.
And then Trump spots an opportunity to shake off his recent controversy with the NFL and offer sympathy to Puerto Rico via his favorite platform, Twitter. It took five days for Trump to respond to Puerto Rico’s situation, a situation that he blamed on the islanders for being heavily in debt and for having an ancient infrastructure. He didn’t offer any more assistance from the federal government nor did he waive federal restrictions on foreign ships carrying life-saving supplies to Puerto Rico.
Again, Puerto Rico is American soil. The people there are Americans and yet it seems that they are less important than Florida or Texas, both of whom got additional federal assistance and foreign delivering supplies almost immediately after the hurricanes that slammed into them.
Trump has already been embroiled in the ongoing controversy of NFL players kneeling during the national anthem in protest to the issue of racism in the United States. His harsh comments distracted many from the fact that his daughter and son-in-law used personal emails to conduct government business in an act similar to Hilary Clinton. Unfortunately, Trump has also diverted the world’s attention away from Puerto Rico and those caught up the destruction are paying the price. The fact that it took him five days to send out a series of Tweets on the issue is too little, too late, regardless of the White House claiming that Trump is a busy man.
What sickens me is that Trump decided that the islanders were to blame for the destruction, that the first order of business is that the island should repay the heavy debt it owes and that the people were basically on their own. The complete lack of empathy is breathtaking yet it is completely unsurprising at this point. Can you imagine President Obama telling the people hit by Hurricane Sandy that they needed to pay their debts before anything was done? What if Trump had said that in the aftermath of Harvey, telling the people of Houston that it was their fault that the city got flooded?
As someone with friends on the island, I find Trump’s remarks to be offensive. I have no idea whether those I’ve talked and joked with are alright and seeing Trump’s Tweets makes my blood boil. The audacity of this creature, to score points and attribute blame, is unfitting for the President of the United States. Where is your decency? Where is the humane and quick response to the suffering of others? Is Puerto Rico less important than Florida or Texas for some reason?
The people of Puerto Rico need all the assistance and help they can get. We will never abandon those in need, even if the most powerful man in the world do. Our thoughts and prayers go to everyone in Puerto Rico.