(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

San Juan's mayor just blasted the government's response to Maria

"This is a people are dying story"


Charlie May
September 29, 2017 1:39PM (UTC)

Success is the word President Donald Trump's administration has used to describe relief efforts for Puerto Rico after it was absolutely devastated by Hurricane Maria, and left 44 percent of Americans without potable drinking water and the entire island without power.

However, success, is not the least bit reflective of what is actually happening in Puerto Rico, and painting it as such is a shameful public relations effort to shield the reality in order to score political points.

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"The relief effort is under control," acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke said Wednesday. "It is really a good news story, in terms of our ability to reach people."

Outside of Puerto Rico's capital, San Juan, those words ring hollow to say the least.

"I have not received any help, and we ran out of food yesterday," Mari Olivo, a 27-year-old homemaker told the Associated Press. She stood in line with her husband and children who were nine and seven years old, waiting to receive water "where local police used hoses to fill up containers from a city water truck."

"I have not seen any federal help around here," Javier San Miguel, a 51-year-old accountant said.

Carmen Yulin Cruz, the mayor of San Juan, had some strong words for Duke's claims.

"Well, maybe from where she’s standing it’s a good news story...I’m sorry, but that really upsets me and frustrates me," she told CNN Friday morning.

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"When you're drinking from a creek, it's not a good news story. When you don't have food for a baby, it's not a good news story," the frustrated mayor explained. "This is a people are dying story."

The AP elaborated on the delivery of aid to the U.S. territory:

FEMA, which is leading the relief effort, has sent 150 containers filled with relief supplies to the port of San Juan since the hurricane struck on Sept. 20, said Omar Negron, director of Puerto Rico’s Ports Authority. He said all the containers were dispatched to people in need but private aid supplies have not reached Puerto Rico.

[...]

FEMA officials said Thursday that a million meals and 2 million liters of fresh water had been distributed in Puerto Rico and 2 million more meals and 2 million more liters of water were on the way. There were conflicting figures: A day earlier, FEMA said it had distributed 167,000 meals and 539,000 bottles of water.

"The federal response has been a disaster," lawmaker Jose Enrique Melendez said. "It’s been really slow."

"There are people literally just modeling their uniforms," he explained, and said that Trump's administration was only interested in a photo-op. "People are suffering outside."

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Charlie May

Charlie May is a news writer at Salon. You can find him on Twitter at @charliejmay

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