By Sandra Lilley , Suzanne Gamboa, Daniella Silva, and Carmen Sesin
13 October 2017

(NBC News) – President Donald Trump's Twitter comments on Thursday threatening to pull federal resources from Puerto Rico as the U.S. territory grapples with the lack of basic necessities elicited shock and alarm on the island and the mainland.

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz urged "every American that has love, and not hate in their hearts, to stand with Puerto Rico and let this president know we WILL NOT BE LEFT TO DIE."

Gov. Ricardo Rosselló tweeted that U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico were "requesting the support that any of our fellow citizens would receive across our nation."

There was worry over the impact of the president's tweets; critics said that as head of the federal government, his statements could be interpreted as less than a full commitment to the island's recovery.

"If I'm being told to do everything to fix this, but if I also hear 'I really don't want it fixed, it's their fault,' then you're not going to be willing to stand on that cliff and take that leap," said Nancy Santiago Negrón, who held several senior positions in the Obama administration. "Hesitation can cost us lives."

With people drinking potentially contaminated river water, eating plants because of a lack of food and the official death toll mounting, Santiago Negrón said Trump's comments left her "petrified."

"When did we stop being America? " she asked.

Isabel Rullán, the managing director of Puerto Rico non-profit ConPRmetidos said Puerto Ricans were still in dire need of basic necessities.

A field of plantains is flooded one day after the impact of Hurricane Maria in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, Thursday, 21 September 2017. Photo: Carlos Giusti / AP Photo

"The basic needs for food, shelter and safety of millions of U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico remain at a critical stage," she said. "We still greatly need boots-on-the-ground help precisely to stabilize the island's foundations and allow for the implementation of long-term solutions for a healthy, dynamic and self-sufficient community." […]

Frank Mora, a former Pentagon official who is now director of the Latin American and Caribbean Center at Florida International University, drew a comparison between the U.S. response to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and Trump’s tweets about Puerto Rico.

“President Obama, at the time, was very clear with us when he said these folks won’t be forsaken,” Mora said, pointing out that Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory and Haiti is a foreign country. The U.S. military remained in Haiti for about six months after the earthquake, Mora said.

Mora said that he found it "disheartening" that only a few weeks after hurricanes hit Puerto Rico, the president was "making excuses ... and putting the blame on the Puerto Ricans, at a time, when they, Americans, need us more than ever."

“It sort of saddens me to think that this is what the American government stands for," he said.

Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M., chairwoman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said in a statement that the president's "suggestion that we will cut and run on our fellow Americans is disgraceful." [more]

‘When Did We Stop Being America?’ Puerto Ricans Angry, Dismayed Over Trump Tweets



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