'Shame on you!': San Juan mayor fires back after Trump warns about disaster relief

Dylan Stableford
Senior Editor

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz fired back at President Trump on Thursday after he warned that federal relief workers can’t remain in Puerto Rico indefinitely even as the hurricane-ravaged island struggles to recover.

“Your comments about Puerto Rico are unbecoming of a Commander in Chief they seem more to come from a ‘Hater in Chief,’” she tweeted. “It is not that you do not get it; you are incapable of fulfilling the moral imperative to help the people of PR. Shame on you!”

Trump issued his warning about pulling federal aid to the U.S. island territory earlier Thursday.

“We cannot keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. forever!” Trump tweeted after quoting conservative television host Sharyl Attkisson and suggesting that Puerto Rico’s poor infrastructure was a “disaster” before Hurricane Maria and Hurricane Irma struck.

Trump made no such threats to Texas or Florida after Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma battered those states. Both disasters triggered massive federal responses in the U.S. mainland.

Slideshow: In the wake of Maria: Aerial views of devastation in Puerto Rico >>>

The tweets came a day after officials in Puerto Rico said the death toll from Maria has risen to 45, with at least 113 people unaccounted for. The hurricane battered Puerto Rico as a Category 4 storm on Sept. 20, leaving millions without power and virtually the entire island without cellphone communication.

According to a website set up by the Puerto Rican government for updates on the recovery efforts, more than 80 percent of the island remains without power, and nearly half its residents still have no cellphone or landline service. Parts of Puerto Rico continue to be running low on medicine and fuel.

Related: Powerless Puerto Ricans huddle around their generators

Trump has come under sharp criticism for his combative response to the situation in Puerto Rico. The president attacked Cruz after she made a public plea for more federal resources.

“Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help,” the president tweeted on Sept. 30. “They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort.”

He stirred controversy by picking a fight with National Football League players shortly after Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico last month. And while visiting the island last week, Trump applauded his administration’s relief efforts while simultaneously attempting to downplay the devastation, comparing the death toll from Hurricane Maria to “a real catastrophe” like Hurricane Katrina, which caused more than 1,800 fatalities when it slammed into Louisiana and Alabama in 2005.

Trump sits between Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello and first lady Melania Trump as he receives a briefing on hurricane damage in Carolina, Puerto Rico, on Oct. 3. (Photo: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

During a meeting with local officials there, Trump also complained about the island’s drain on the federal budget.

“I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you’ve thrown our budget a little out of whack,” Trump said. “We’ve spent a lot of money on Puerto Rico, but it’s fine.”

Slideshow: Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria >>>

A day later, Trump complained that the media’s coverage of the trip was “fake.”

In Washington, D.C., on Oct. 6, three days after touring the devastation, Trump said there were more than 15,000 federal workers on the island.

“Puerto Rico has a long road of recovery ahead,” Trump said. “We will not rest until that job is done.”

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