Prez Trump may pull back Puerto Rico recovery effort
WASHINGTON: President Trump served notice Thursday that he may pull back federal relief workers from Puerto Rico, effectively threatening to abandon the US territory amid a staggering humanitarian crisis in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.
Declaring the US territory’s electrical grid and infrastructure to have been a “disaster before hurricanes,” Trump wrote Thursday that it will be up to Congress how much federal money to appropriate to the island for its recovery efforts and that recovery workers will not stay “forever.”
In a trio of tweets, Trump wrote” “We cannot keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. forever!” Three weeks since Maria made landfall, much of Puerto Rico, an island of 3.4 million people, the vast majority of the island remains without power. Residents struggle to find clean water, hospitals are running short on medicine and commerce is slow with many businesses closed.
Trump on Thursday sought to shame the territory for its own plight. He tweeted, “Electric and all infrastructure was disaster before hurricanes.” And he quoted Sharyl Attkisson, a television journalist, as saying, “Puerto Rico survived the Hurricanes, now a financial crisis looms largely of their own making.” Trump has been roundly criticised for his leadership in coming to Puerto Rico’s aid. Trump, in response, has tried to portray the island as in full recovery mode, even as it suffers from enduring health, power and water problems.