WASHINGTON – Members of the #Power4PuertoRico Coalition offered the following statements, reacting to President Trump’s fleeting mention of Puerto Rico nearly four months after Hurricane Maria devastated the Island and its people. The President’s words came only hours after the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced it would suspend critical food and water aid to residents of the U.S. territory.
Julio López Varona, Director of Puerto Rico Campaigns, Center for Popular Democracy: “Trump's State of the Union painted a delusional portrait of our country today. Perhaps nowhere was this more evident than the treatment of Puerto Rico, whose residents continue to lack basic power, water, food or health services while the Trump administration continues to look the other way. The state of our union cannot be strong when millions of Puerto Ricans are hungry, sick, and dying because hospitals don’t have power and the elderly don’t have access to medication. Our communities will continue to fight the racism and cruelty that has characterized Trump's response to Puerto Rico and fight to ensure all Puerto Ricans have the resources they need to thrive once again.”
Yulissa Arce, Central Florida Regional Director, Organize Florida: “President Trump may have said 'we are with you' to the people of Puerto Rico, but the truth is that his administration has not even done the bare minimum to help Puerto Ricans post-Hurricane Maria. In fact, his administration has furthered deeper austerity measures, securing billions of dollars in profit for corporations and hedge fund managers while letting the 3.5 million American citizens on the island fend for themselves. There are still people living without water and electricity and have seen little to no help from their American government.”
Eric Rodriguez, Vice President of UnidosUS (formerly NCLR): “In this evening’s State of the Union address President Trump spoke about unity and making America strong yet those words ring hollow when we look at the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico. Millions of American citizens continue to endure a lack of food, water and electricity and despite this just yesterday FEMA announced it was ending food and water aid. Abandoning fellow Americans in their time of need is inexcusable. The President needs to lead and the Congress must act to prevent future loss of life and get Puerto Rico’s economy back on its feet.”
Winnie Stachelberg, Executive Vice President of External Affairs, Center for American Progress: “The federal response to Puerto Rico‘s recovery from Hurricane Maria has been abysmal at best. American families have been sidelined for too long waiting on Congress and the Trump Administration to provide critical- and long overdue relief to the millions of American citizens in their time of need. President Trump’s remarks during the State of the Union make it clear that he and his administration do not grasp the severity of conditions on the island, nor the fact conditions were exacerbated by a slow and anemic federal response. This is further demonstrated by the cruel decision by FEMA today to pull food and water aid to the island, despite many residents still lacking access to running water and one third of the island still without electricity. Across the board, experts have reiterated that the only way Puerto Rico will have a chance to recover is through a substantial federal investment in both the immediate- and long-terms. This Administration and Republicans in Congress have little to show and nothing to brag about.”