President Trump finally mentioned Puerto Rico — by choosing to insult it

Donald Trump wants to make sure that Wall Street is taken care of

By Matthew Rozsa

Published September 26, 2017 8:14AM (EDT)

 (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

President Donald Trump said Tuesday he wants to help Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. It's one of the first times he has spoken about the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the American territory, but he wanted to make sure that people knew it wasn't a humanitarian thing. It was an investment, largely because of the commonwealth's ongoing debts to Wall Street.

The debt mentioned in Trump's tweet amounts to roughly $70 billion, according to the BBC. The financial burden on Puerto Rico was so severe that Governor Ricardo Roselló sought to restructure the debt in May after declaring a form of bankruptcy for the island. It will be even more difficult for Puerto Rico to pay off its debt if the island has to complete major infrastructure repairs, with credit ratings agency Moody's reporting on Monday that "severe damage to infrastructure and private property that is not offset through federal relief efforts will signal reduced economic capacity."

Puerto Rico's capacity to pay off its debt will also be hurt if it suffers a continued population decline. Its population declined by 8 percent to 3.4 million within the last seven years, and that will likely get worse if humanitarian conditions in Puerto Rico continue to worsen. The commonwealth continues to struggle with widespread food and water shortages, while nearly the entire island remains without electrical power. Although there are currently no reports of widespread hunger, cash is limited and many electronic transactions (such as using credit and debit cards) are currently not possible.

Despite this crisis, Trump had other matters on which he felt the need to vent on Twitter. Foremost among them was the ongoing controversy over NFL players' national anthem protests.

A cursory glance at Trump's Twitter feed over the past few days shows that he has been obsessed with what grown men do during the national anthem.

Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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Dallas Cowboys Donald Trump National Anthem Nfl Nfl Protests Puerto Rico