Trump acted relatively fast in responding to hurricanes hitting Florida and Texas but is taking his own sweet time helping Puerto Rico.
It took Donald Trump five full days to respond to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria on the lives of 3.5 million Americans in Puerto Rico, and when he finally did so his comments on Twitter were so devoid of empathy it threatened to spark a new controversy.
Trump launched another provocation on Monday night with a belated and lacklustre response to the Puerto Rican disaster. In a series of three tweets he effectively blamed the islanders – all of whom are American citizens – for their own misfortune.
“Texas & Florida are doing great but Puerto Rico, which was already suffering from broken infrastructure & massive debt, is in deep trouble,” he said, without offering any additional federal government assistance for the stricken US territory, which was hit by Hurricane Maria soon after those two states were struck by Harvey and Irma.
Trump acknowledged that “much of the island was destroyed”, but caustically went on to say that its electrical grid was already “in terrible shape” and that Puerto Rico owed billions of dollars to Wall Street and the banks “which, sadly, must be dealt with”.
Trump himself has spent the past five days mired in his self-made battle with African-American sports stars while seemingly oblivious to the plight of millions of Hispanic Americans in peril in a natural disaster zone. The Trump administration has also refused to waive federal restrictions on foreign ships carrying life-saving supplies to Puerto Rico – a concession it readily made for Texas and Florida in the cases of hurricanes Harvey and Irma respectively.
In the last of his three tweets, Trump said that “food, water and medical are top priorities – and doing well”. But that may not tally with experiences on the ground where the governor, Ricardo Rosselló, has warned that Puerto Rico is on the brink of a “humanitarian crisis”.
In the hard-to-reach interior of the country, thousands of people are struggling with destroyed houses, a heat wave, and rapidly depleting supplies of clean water and food.
Most Puerto Ricans were spared the experience of reading Trump’s tweets as a result of the ongoing total blackout on the island. But condemnation was swift in mainland US.
Read the complete article on The Guardian newspaper web site.