Trump Decides Helping the U.S. Through a Natural Disaster is Too Hard, Blames Puerto Rico For Its Own Suffering

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It has only been three weeks since Hurricane Maria made landfall on the U.S. island commonwealth of Puerto Rico completing the devastation started by Hurricane Irma before it. Yet the U.S.’s so-called President has already grown impatient with how slow relief is going to be coming to the island, and he’s ready to take his toys and go home. While people die.

As my TMS colleague, Kaila just said to me in our Slack channel, “imagine if people were casually dying in Iowa because they can’t get dialysis because there’s no electricity.” You probably can’t imagine that, because it would never happen. The U.S. government would never let that happen. People would be too up in arms.

Yet, this is what Trump had to say, er, tweet today about the ongoing situation in Puerto Rico:

What’s truly frustrating about all this is that I’m not entirely sure that Trump actually understands that as President, he is, in fact, responsible for Puerto Rico. He seems…annoyed by the whole thing. As if Puerto Rico being ravaged by a hurricane is this huge inconvenience, and he’d really like to just hurry things along. I can imagine some adviser or other telling him that he needed to actually care about Puerto Rico, because it’s a U.S. territory, and him just sighing this huge sigh and asking what the minimum is that they can get away with.

I’m sorry if people dying as they remain without water, food, or electricity to maintain their hospital care is an inconvenience to you. Perhaps they should all come back and start dying at a better time?

Meanwhile, there seem to be huge discrepancies between “official” information and the information being provided to press outlets by organizations on the ground. According to the official government reports, the death toll due to the hurricane was frozen at 16. Yet, as Vox reports:

“[I]mages and reports from the ground tell a story of people, cut off from basic supplies and health care, dying. They tell of hospitals running out of medication and fuel for their generators and struggling to keep up with the “avalanche of patients that came after the hurricane,” as one journalist put it.

The death toll from the hurricane is now up to 45, according to Gov. Ricardo Rosselló. But 90 percent of the 3.4 million American citizens on the island still don’t have power, and 35 percent still don’t have water to drink or bathe in. And given how deadly power outages can be, 45 deaths seems low, according to disaster experts.”

Artist and contributing editor at Vice, Molly Crabapple recently took a trip to Puerto Rico to report on the relief effort, and was astounded by the fact that, not only was FEMA not getting to the remote areas that needed them the most, but that they were turning away volunteer truck drivers and others, only to have Trump talk nonsense about how Puerto Ricans aren’t helping themselves enough. The “help” that was being provided was hugely inefficient. For example:

Great. So you have to call or go online for relief. Yeah, let’s do that while we watch coverage of all this on the news, oh wait, we can’t because we have no electricity or cell phone coverage.

This is the “amazing” help that Puerto Rico is getting. Is it any wonder why recovery is slower than it should be?

The other frustrating part of this is Trump’s insistence at getting digs in at Puerto Rico’s expense by constantly bringing up their debt as if that was entirely their fault. First of all, bringing up their terrible economy while all this is going on is the epitome of heartlessness and callousness. Where is your human decency, sir?

But second, and more importantly, not only is colonialism and awful U.S. economic policy in Puerto Rico responsible for their current economic woes (check out John Oliver’s thorough, yet succinct explanation), but Trump himself contributed to it in his civilian life. You don’t get to use a place as your golf-course dumpster, drive its economy into the ground, then complain that they can’t pay back their debt. I mean, you can, but it would make you an asshole.

Oh, and by the way, the U.S. governments relief programs involve loans for infrastructure. So more debt for Puerto Rico is on the horizon…and yet they’re doing nothing for their own recovery, huh?

For you non-assholes out there who care that people are dying right now, give to Puerto Rico locally if you can. We discuss several suggestions in our Puerto Rico tag.

(via The Daily Dot, image: Shutterstock)

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Image of Teresa Jusino
Teresa Jusino
Teresa Jusino (she/her) is a native New Yorker and a proud Puerto Rican, Jewish, bisexual woman with ADHD. She's been writing professionally since 2010 and was a former TMS assistant editor from 2015-18. Now, she's back as a contributing writer. When not writing about pop culture, she's writing screenplays and is the creator of your future favorite genre show. Teresa lives in L.A. with her brilliant wife. Her other great loves include: Star Trek, The Last of Us, anything by Brian K. Vaughan, and her Level 5 android Paladin named Lal.