OPINION | Barry Richard: San Juan Mayor Put Politics Ahead of Puerto Rican People
The Puerto Rican flag will be hoisted at City Hall Square this evening to commemorate Hispanic Heritage Month. An estimated six thousand Puerto Ricans now call New Bedford home. President and Melania Trump will host Latino leaders for a celebration at the White House tonight. But, to listen to the Democrat Mayor of San Juan the Americans seem to care little about Puerto Rico.
Two weeks ago, Puerto Rico was slammed by Hurricane Maria. It was a devastating storm that killed 34 people and caused widespread destruction all across the island nation. Puerto Rico's antiquated power grid was decimated. Some predicted power would be lost for up to six months while the system was rebuilt. Some power has already been restored.
The American response to Maria was swift. 12 thousand American "boots" are on the ground in Puerto Rico providing assistance. Food, water and medicine were delivered to the island quickly. A labor dispute with some island employee unions and poor local leadership resulted in some delays in distributing some of the aid. The emergency response followed highly praised response efforts just weeks before in Texas and Florida.
San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz criticized the relief effort accusing the Administration of;
"showing your back to the Puerto Rican people."
Cruz also wore a tee shirt on CNN that read; "HELP US, WE ARE DYING."
Independent media reporting and other government officials indicated no such lack of support for the people of Puerto Rico. In fact, Democrat Governor Ricardo Rossello told FOX News;
"The president and the administration, every time we've asked them to execute, they've executed quickly."
Two-thirds of Puerto Rico's gas stations are now fully operational. Most grocery stores are open once again.
For more than a year, the impoverish nation has attempted to secure a bail out of the massive debt it owes to the world community. That debt is estimated at approximately $74 billion dollars. Washington was been reluctant to help, but President Trump has indicated that forgiving at least a portion of that debt might be necessary for Puerto Rico to recover and rebuild.
Since Trump's inauguration, the economy has taken off and regulations that thwarted small business development have been relaxed. This help Hispanics in this country who start small businesses at about 1.5 times the rate of non-Hispanic Americans. Trump has also indicated support for continuing the DACA program to protect illegal immigrants who were brought there as kids through no fault of their own.
Trump has been an ally to the Hispanic and Latino communities and Mayor Cruz should think twice before trying to pick a fight for her own political gain.
The Puerto Rican people have been dealt a tough hand, but all indications are that Trump and the American people are doing all that is possible to help. Mayor Cruz needs to be a leader by putting the best interest of her people before her own political interests.
Editor’s Note: Barry Richard is the afternoon host on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from Noon-3pm. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.