On Oct. 12, 2017, President Trump announced via Twitter that “We cannot keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. forever!” This comes as a disturbing revelation seeing as 90 percent of the island is without power and medicine, clean drinking water, and fuel is running low. In so many ways, Trump has already failed Puerto Rico: he sluggishly responded to the needs of the island immediately after Hurricane Maria, publicly bashed San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz repeatedly, joked about the natural disaster and subsequent relief efforts throwing the budget out of whack, claimed Puerto Rico was receiving more federal help than it actually was, and pathetically threw out paper towels to a crowd of people last week when he finally visited the island.
Trump also displayed gross victim blaming, claiming that Puerto Rico’s electrical grid and infrastructure were a “disaster before hurricanes,” and insisted that “a financial crisis looms largely of their own making.”
This level of contempt and disregard President Trump is expressing is nauseating, but unsurprising since he’s made it clear, time and time again, how little he cares about anyone who isn’t perceived as white and American, even though Puerto Ricans are United States citizens. His abandonment of Puerto Rico simply reflects his racism and hatred toward people of color. He’s not only an inept president, but one who unabashedly continues to promote bigotry and intolerance. Puerto Ricans don’t look like Trump’s Nazis, so he isn’t worried about their well-being.
If Trump does indeed want to make this an issue of finances and available funds, it is easy to pick apart this bogus concern because Trump can’t even afford to pay his secret service agents, some reports claim. He’s supposedly spent over $6.6 million in security costs traveling to and from Mar-a-Lago. How is it that Trump has (or at least had) money to fund his endless golf excursions, but is now frantically trying to pull precious resources out of Puerto Rico, when the damage has barely been assuaged to begin with? Back in Sept. 2017, the Senate passed a bill that allowed $700 billion to be allocated to the military, in the form of the National Defense Authorization Act. U.S. military spending is more than the next nine countries combined, but Trump believes that sending necessary, life-saving support to those in Puerto Rico is extreme.
Additionally, Trump hasn’t made a fuss over ending rebuilding projects in Florida and in Texas; probably because he sees those living in these states as “true Americans” (but probably not if they are black, brown, immigrants, or undocumented). He has been stubborn from the start about giving any sort of relief to Puerto Rico and now it seems he can’t wait to leave the territory in despair while simultaneously blaming the country for its own financial troubles. He is attempting to deflect any blame or negativity from himself and project an image that Puerto Rico was woefully unprepared and had conditions that made the island susceptible to a damaged economy and infrastructure – all while ignoring the fact that a hurricane just decimated the island.
Trump has been roundly criticized for his handling of the crisis in Puerto Rico. He made a colossal fool of himself when he claimed that it was difficult to get supplies to Puerto Rico because of the “ocean” that had to be traversed. He is stooping to disgusting levels of blame and oblivion to avoid doing his job. Puerto Rico is nowhere near recovery; the death count has risen to 45 and more than 100 people are still unaccounted for.
President Trump, much like his awful supporters, does not care about Puerto Rico because he doesn’t view them as Americans; most of the people who voted for him probably don’t even know that Puerto Ricans hold U.S. citizenship. He is setting a precedent of casting aside those that white America sees as “other” or foreign. His attacks on immigrants, Muslims, and Hispanics and Latino/as are solid proof that if you are not a white Christian on the U.S. mainland, Trump doesn’t have time for you. If you speak a language other than English, you are unworthy of recognition, government aid, and compassion.
Puerto Rico is in a state of desperate crisis, with seemingly few options being offered by the Trump administration. Now, Trump is threatening to take those small amounts of help away from those who have literally less than nothing.