As Puerto Rico Cries Out, Trump Brings Up Its Debt

'We need more help,' says governor
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 26, 2017 11:00 AM CDT
Updated Sep 26, 2017 1:53 PM CDT
Satellite Photo Shows How Bleak It Is in Puerto Rico
Photos released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show Puerto Rico at night on July 24, 2017, top, and on Monday, days after the hurricane wiped out most of the island's power.   (NOAA via AP)

President Trump plans to visit Puerto Rico next Tuesday to see for himself the devastation of Hurricane Maria. At an afternoon news conference, Trump promised that the federal government is "doing everything we can" to help, reports CNN. "All available federal resources, including the military, are being marshaled to save lives." In a series of morning tweets, the president shared a similar sentiment, but he also mentioned the territory's "massive debt," referring to "billions of dollars owed to Wall Street and the banks which, sadly, must be dealt with." That hasn't sat well with all. Related coverage:

  • Debt reference: Trump has been taking flak for mentioning the US territory's debt at a time of crisis. "These are two different topics," San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz told CNN, per USA Today. "You don't put debt above people, you put people above debt." Cruz did, however, praise FEMA's work, and Trump later thanked her for those "kind words," adding, "Much food and water there/on way."
  • Image from space: NASA released an image illustrating just how dark things have gotten in Puerto Rico without electricity. See it here via the Boston Globe. The Atlantic rounds up other jarring images.
  • Another plea: "We need more help," the governor of Puerto Rico said on MSNBC Tuesday, per the Hill. "We need more help with resources. We need more help with people being deployed so that we can get logistical support elsewhere," Ricardo Rossello added. He also asked Congress to prepare an aid package.

  • Cell service: One big problem hampering communication: With towers down, cell service has been decimated on the island. Time reports how people are pulling over on highways to try to take advantage of the rare locations where WiFi is working, allowing them to get in touch with relatives.
  • More flak: Singer Marc Anthony fired off an angry tweet Monday, demanding that Trump stop talking about the NFL and "do something about our people in need in #PuertoRico. We are American citizens too." HIllary Clinton said she's not sure Trump "knows that Puerto Ricans are American citizens," per HuffPost. And NBA superstar Carmelo Anthony also challenged Trump not to "overlook our Puerto Ricans," per Deadspin. (Anthony set up a crowdfunding site.)
  • In defense: At the National Review, Charles Cooke writes that all these false narratives are emerging trying to make Puerto Rico "Trump's Katrina." It's a joke, he adds. "Trump has many flaws. But he is not ignoring Puerto Rico."
  • 'No agriculture': Farmers are assessing the damage to their fields and crops, and the news is bleak. One plantain farmer tells the New York Times that every single one of his 14,000 trees went down, and all of his yam and pepper crops are wiped out. Neighbors were in a similar boat. "There will be no food in Puerto Rico," he says. "There is no more agriculture in Puerto Rico. And there won't be any for a year or longer."
  • Scene in San Juan: No power; long lines for food, water, and gas; no phone service; destroyed homes. "The lives of the people in San Juan are now divided into two periods: before Hurricane Maria and after," writes Molly Hennessy-Fiske in the Los Angeles Times.
  • How to help: Fast Company rounds up 10 ways people can donate here.
(More Puerto Rico stories.)

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