POLITICS
09/13/2018 09:27 am ET Updated Sep 13, 2018

San Juan Mayor Responds To Trump's 'Appalling' Denial Of Puerto Rico Deaths

Carmen Yulín Cruz slammed the president for claiming that the death toll was inflated by Democrats to make him look bad.

The mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, shot back at President Donald Trump minutes after his Thursday morning claim that the death toll from last year’s Hurricane Maria was grossly inflated.

Trump’s denial that nearly 3,000 people died as a result of the September 2017 storm, determined by a government report, amounts to “denial following neglect,” Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz tweeted. Trump blamed Democrats for reporting large figures in order to make him look bad. 

“YOUR LACK OF RESPECT IS APPALLING!” the mayor continued. She called Trump “delusional, paranoid, and unhinged from any sense of reality,” and “so vain he thinks this is about him.”

Trump has been using the lead-up to Hurricane Florence, set to make landfall in the Carolinas Thursday, to claim a stellar response by his administration to storms last year, when Harvey, Irma and Maria lashed parts of the U.S., causing thousands of deaths and billions in damage

Trump on Wednesday referred to his administration’s handling of last year’s storms in Florida and Texas as deserving of “A Pluses,” and lamented that government efforts in Puerto Rico were “unappreciated” and an “unsung success.”

Trump and his administration have been criticized for a lax response to the Puerto Rico devastation and denial of the extent of the death and damage. Trump, instead, blamed the island for not preparing itself.

Trump and Cruz have traded barbs since last year. Cruz has attacked the president for failing to take the island’s needs seriously. He has accused the mayor and other officials of wanting “everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort.”

Rosselló stood by the official death toll during a Facebook Live broadcast on Thursday.

“We recognize the death toll of the hurricane and ask the president of the United States invest the resources necessary to continue working for the good of Puerto Rico,” Rosselló said. “We put this analysis in the hands of scientists and experts, recognizing that there were many challenges.”

He added: “This is not a time for political fights and noise, not a time to use these things for the benefit of one party or another. It’s a time to remember all those that lost their lives.”

Erika Larose and Julie Piñero contributed reporting.

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