President Donald Trump criticized the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, who has become the public face of desperate residents in the wake of Hurricane Maria. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo
Sept. 30 (UPI) -- In a series of tweets on Saturday, President Donald Trump blasted the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, for her criticism of the federal government's response to Hurricane Maria.
Trump said Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz has shown "poor leadership ability" for her inability to organize a municipal response to the devastation and is now taking cues from Trump's Democratic critics to blame him for the unfolding humanitarian crisis on the island.
"The Mayor of San Juan, who was very complimentary only a few days ago, has now been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump," he said in one Twitter post Saturday morning.
Trump also criticized Puerto Rican officials for waiting for federal help to begin responding to the storm.
"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. They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort. 10,000 Federal workers now on Island doing a fantastic job," Trump said.
Puerto Rico's Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said his constituents are in dire need of aid, but said he's been satisfied with the federal government's role in responding to the crisis.
"We need to do a lot more in order for us to get out of the emergency," Rosselló said. "But the other thing that's also true is that the administration has answered and has complied with our petitions in an expedited manner."
The island has been without power since the storm hit and many municipal employees have been prevented from helping with the larger disaster response because their own homes were damaged or destroyed.
Part of the criticism facing the Trump administration also centers on its hesitation to waive the Jones Act, a law that allows only American-flagged vessels with U.S. crews to deliver goods from one U.S. port to another.
Cruz has become the public face of desperate Puerto Rican officials in the days since the storm hit. In a televised interview Friday, she begged the public for help and said the inefficient response has put lives at risk. The storm has been blamed for 16 deaths in Puerto Rico so far, but the lack of food, medicine, drinking water and electricity have created a much larger threat to public health.
"I will do what I never thought I was going to do. I am begging, begging anyone who can hear us to save us from dying," Cruz said. "If anybody out there is listening to us, we are dying, and you are killing us with the inefficiency."