San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz reacted with shock and anger to acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke on Friday, saying Puerto Rico’s recovery is “not a good news story.”
“This is a ‘people are dying’ story,” she said in disbelief.
Cruz was referencing Duke’s comments on Thursday, when the Trump administration official said she was satisfied with the government’s response to help Puerto Rico’s recover from Hurricane Maria.
“I know it is really a good news story in terms of our ability to reach people and the limited number of deaths that have taken place in such a devastating hurricane,” Duke said.
“Well maybe from where she’s standing it’s a good news story,” Yulín Cruz told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota after she was played the clip on “New Day.” “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. When you have to pull people down from buildings — I’m sorry, that really upsets me and frustrates me.”
She continued: “I would ask you (Duke) to come down here and visit the towns and then make a statement like that, because frankly, it is an irresponsible statement in contrast with the statements of support that I have been getting yesterday when I got that call from the White House. Dammit, this is not a good news story. This is a ‘people are dying’ story. It’s a life or death story.”
On Thursday, Duke expressed nothing short of full confidence when she talked to reporters about Puerto Rico outside the White House.
“I am very satisfied,” Duke told reporters outside the White House. “I know it’s a hard storm to recover from but the amount of progress that’s been made, and I really would appreciate any support that we get. I know it is really a good news story in terms of our ability to reach people and the limited number of deaths that have taken place in such a devastating hurricane.”
She clarified later, “It’s good news that we have a unification of command where the governor, the federal response, and the people are all united toward saving lives and giving things to the people they need.”
President Donald Trump also defended his administration’s response to the humanitarian disaster in Puerto Rico on Friday, tweeting a quote from Gov. Ricardo Rosselló he said on CNN.
Trump tweeted, “Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello just stated: “The Administration and the President, every time we’ve spoken, they’ve delivered……”
He continued:” …The fact is that Puerto Rico has been destroyed by two hurricanes. Big decisions will have to be made as to the cost of its rebuilding!”
Trump is expected to visit the island on Tuesday but the White House confirmed this morning that his wife Melania will not make the trip as she did after previous disasters.