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Maria Protesters Mark Anniversary With Message for Trump

Hundreds of Puerto Ricans give nod to hurricane's 1-year mark by stopping by Mar-a-Lago
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 23, 2018 5:41 AM CDT
Aaron and Diana Umpirerre gather in the parking lot to meet others for a protest, Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018 in Hollywood, Fla. Activists marking the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria's devastation...   (Mike Stocker /South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)
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(Newser) – Dozens of vehicles slowly approached President Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida on Saturday afternoon, blasting reggaeton and salsa as they drove by. They honked their horns and waved Puerto Rican flags draped from their cars on their way to a rally a few miles away to mark the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria. Despite the scorching sun, hundreds showed up in West Palm Beach, with buses full of protesters from as far as Miami and Orlando. A lively crowd carried posters that read "Respeta Mi Gente" (Respect My People) and "Justice for Puerto Rico," reports the AP. A giant blowup balloon of Trump depicted as a baby hovered as crowds waited to take photos in which they gave it the middle finger. Event organizers and anyone with a microphone was constantly telling people to vote in the midterm elections or to register to vote. The event came as CBS notes that Puerto Rico may never fully recover from Maria.

"We're honoring the lives that were lost," said Marcos Vilar, president of Alianza for Progress. "We are recognizing all the people that were displaced and are living here." Vilar believes that the Trump administration's response has proven that Puerto Ricans are not treated as equal citizens. Nearly 3,000 died as a result of Hurricane Maria, per a study by the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University. Trump has repeatedly rebuked the death toll. Last week he tweeted that researchers inflated the numbers "like magic," saying "FIFTY TIMES LAST ORIGINAL NUMBER -NO WAY!" Trump was not at Mar-a-Lago during the event. Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, who was in attendance, called the situation in Puerto Rico "inexcusable" and characterized Trump's comments as offensive. "How much more insults do (Puerto Ricans) have to take after being treated like they have?" he asked.

(Read more Hurricane Maria stories.)

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