‘The historical relationship between Puerto Rico and Washington is unfair and unAmerican…’
Rossello has typically avoided confrontations with Trump, but couldn’t sit back after the president went on a fact-challenged tirade about Maria.
“No relationship between a colony and the federal government can ever be called ‘successful’ because Puerto Ricans lack certain inalienable rights enjoyed by our fellow Americans in the states,” Rossello said in a statement. “The historical relationship between Puerto Rico and Washington is unfair and unAmerican. It is certainly not a successful relationship.”
Trump had earlier in the day proclaimed his administration’s response to Maria “one of the best jobs that has ever been done” while discussing preparedness for Hurricane Florence, which is expected to hit the Carolinas and Virginia in the coming days.
“I think Puerto Rico was an incredible, unsung success,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office.
The president also doubled down on his inaccurate claim that the aftermath of Maria was particularly difficult because Puerto Rico’s power grid was “dead before the storm even hit.”
“It was in very bad shape, it was in bankruptcy, it had no money,” Trump said. “When the storm hit they had no electricity.”
Despite Trump’s assertion, the island’s electrical grid was fully functional before Maria made landfall, although it remains more than $9 billion in debt.
A White House spokeswoman did not respond to a request for clarification.
The president made similar boasts about Maria shortly after Rossello on Aug. 28 raised the hurricane death toll from 64 to 2,975.
“I think we did a fantastic job in Puerto Rico,” Trump said hours after Rossello announced the new figure.
Rossello’s Trump rebuke came as he also announced that he will campaign for political candidates who support statehood for Puerto Rico, including Rep. Darren Soto, D-Fla., and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Cuomo, who has been butting heads with Trump at an increasing rate in recent weeks, also excoriated the president after his latest remarks and brought attention to the hundreds of Puerto Ricans who are still without power or even homeless as a result of Maria.
“Instead of patting himself on the back over this utter failure,” Cuomo said, “President Trump should do something useful and push his fellow Washington Republicans to deliver the aid package Puerto Rico still desperately needs to recover and rebuild.”
San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz was stunned by Trump’s choice of words.
“Success?” she tweeted. “If he thinks the death of 3,000 people is a success God help us all.”
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