San Juan Mayor Criticizes Trump's Visit to Puerto Rico: Actions Were 'Terrible and Abominable'

October 4, 2017

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz on Tuesday night castigated President Donald Trump's trip to Puerto Rico earlier that day, calling his actions on the hurricane-ravaged island "terrible and abominable."

Cruz joined guest host Joy Reid on MSNBC's "The Rachel Maddow Show," where the San Juan mayor described her brief interaction with Trump during a meeting with local and federal officials on the response to Hurricane Maria.

Reid asked about Trump's encounter with Cruz after the two had a Twitter feud over the weekend, which escalated already heightened political tensions between the two.

"I said to him it's about saving lives, it's not about politics," Cruz said.

Trump responded by saying "thank you, thank you everybody" before starting the round-table discussion.

Cruz did not feel Trump responded to her statement and was unhappy with what she called a "PR 17-minute meeting."

"There was no exchange with anybody, with none of the mayors," Cruz said of the meeting, arguing it was more of a public relations stunt than a substantive discussion.

Cruz then referenced a moment when Trump stopped at Calvary Chapel in San Juan, where he passed out food to residents. He then threw rolls of paper towels to the crowd, which Cruz described as a "terrible and abominable view."

"In fact, this terrible and abominable view of him throwing paper towels and throwing provisions at people, it's really—it does not embody the spirit of the American nation, you know," she said. "That is not the land of the free and the home of the brave that the beacon of democracy that people have learned to look up to, you know, across the world."

Cruz then criticized Trump for saying Puerto Rico threw the "budget out of whack," adding that he minimized the "suffering" on the island by saying Hurricane Katrina was a "real disaster, sort of implying that this was not a real disaster because not many people have died here."

"Well they're dying," Cruz said of Puerto Rican residents.

When Trump visited Puerto Rico there were 16 confirmed deaths from Hurricane Maria. NBC News reported Tuesday night that the death toll had risen to 34. Hurricane Katrina's official death toll was more than 1,800 after it hit New Orleans in 2005.

Cruz finished her criticism by calling Trump the "mis-communicator in chief," telling Reid one does not go to a place in peril "without having some kind words to say."