Trump is back to lying about Puerto Rico so he can deny the island the recovery funds it needs
Donald Trump is once again trying to punish Puerto Rico. Nearly fourteen months since Hurricane Maria hit the island and became one of the deadliest storms in US history, the island continues to recover. Nearly 3,000 people have died so far and there are residents who remain without power. But Trump could care less. He’s apparently gone back to the racist lies and conspiracy theories he touted last year about Puerto Rico’s government mishandling recovery funds. And that’s why he wants to end disaster relief funds to the island, according to a recent Axios report.
It’s no secret that Puerto Rico is mired in debt—$73 billion to be exact. The island has been in the midst of a financial crisis for the better part of the last decade and finally declared bankruptcy in May 2017. There have been some complicated and messy court battles that have taken place as bondholders try to get their money and the federal government attempts to figure out a way to deal with this problem. The government has even established a federal financial oversight and management board that is supposed to address the island’s problems. But there are no easy answers. Puerto Rico faces billions of dollars of debt, high unemployment, crumbling infrastructure and a mass exodus of residents of working age, leaving a rapidly aging and elderly population and further erosion of the island’s tax base.
Then Hurricane Maria happened last September. And the local and federal government botched the response which has only worsened conditions on an already beleaguered island.
Let’s recap how Donald Trump, our joke of a leader, couldn’t even be bothered to do the bare minimum to get the response to this disaster right. From the beginning, he pretty much ignored what was happening—instead spending his days and nights obsessing over NFL players who were kneeling during the national anthem to protest police violence against black and brown bodies. He then attacked San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz every chance he got while she desperately pleaded for help to any media outlet that would listen. He finally went to Puerto Rico and threw paper towels at hurricane survivors, all the while praising his administration for their response and lied about the death toll. He tweeted about how Puerto Ricans wanted “everything done for them” and said in a press conference that they’d “thrown his budget out of whack.” He’s done everything he can to insult the Puerto Rican people, minimize, and ignore this tragedy.
And now, he’s back to lying, this time claiming that Puerto Rico’s government is using the federal money for disaster recovery to pay off its debts.