Carmen Yulín Cruz, the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, said on Sunday that despite the compassion of the U.S. public, the federal government “does not want to help” Puerto Rico.
“WE NEED WATER!” she added in an early morning tweet.
Close to three weeks after Hurricane Maria hammered Puerto Rico, much of the island remains without running water after Hurricane , according to a Thursday report in The Miami Herald. Many residents are still bathing and collecting drinking water in limited quantities from freshwater sources, or using bottled water provided by the U.S. military.
In an interview on ABC News’ “This Week” on Sunday, Brock Long, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, dismissed Yulín Cruz’s comments as “political noise.”
“We filtered out the mayor a long time ago,” Long told “This Week” co-anchor Martha Raddatz. “We don’t have time for the political noise.”
“The bottom line is, is that we are making progress every day in conjunction with” Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello, Long said. “And in regards to the power failure, we’re restringing a very fragile system every day.”
Cruz and the Trump administration have been engaged in a running battle over the adequacy of the federal response to the damage cause by Hurricane Maria, a Category 4 storm that devastated the island.
Responding to criticism on Sept. 29 that aid from the United States was arriving in Puerto Rico too slowly, President Donald Trump chalked it up to the logistical difficulty of getting aid to an island “surrounded by water. Big water, ocean water.”
In televised remarks that same day that went viral, Cruz lit into FEMA and put the onus on Trump to fix the situation.
“Mr. Trump, I am begging you to take charge and save lives,” she declared “After all, that is one of the founding principles of the United States of North America. If not, the world will see how we are treated not as second-class citizens but as animals that can be disposed of. Enough is enough.”
Her complaints prompted a public feud with Trump, who took her comments as a personal affront.
In a series of tweets, Trump accused Cruz of acting on the advice of mainland Democrats and argued that she was showing “such poor leadership ability.” He added that Cruz and other Puerto Rican leaders “want everything to be done for them,” a comment that prompted charges that Trump was deliberately employing a stereotype of Latinos as lazy.
The attacks from Trump drew widespread condemnation from Democrats, who noted that Trump launched the broadside while spending the weekend at his golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey. Cruz, by contrast, had been seen walking through waist-deep water with a megaphone as part of her personal participation in rescue efforts.
The tiff continued when Trump visited Puerto Rico on last Tuesday, attending a meeting with Puerto Rican officials, including Cruz. Trump raised eyebrows by saying Hurricane Maria was not “a real catastrophe” like Hurricane Katrina, given that many more people died in the 2005 storm that battered Louisiana and Mississippi. He also tossed paper towel rolls to a crowd of Puerto Ricans as if he were shooting basketballs.
Cruz responded by calling Trump the “mis-communicator-in-chief,” denouncing his visit as “terrible and abominable.”
This story has been updated with details on the continuing disputes between Cruz and the Trump administration.