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While the Trump Administration Abandons Puerto Ricans, Democratic Leaders Keep Fighting to Help Puerto Ricans

Today, the Florida Democratic Party hosted a press call with U.S. Representative Darren Soto, Senator Carmelo Rios, along with Marcos Vilar, Alianza for Progress Executive Director, and Natascha Otero-Santiago, Vice President for the Democratic Hispanic Caucus of Florida, to discuss the Trump administration’s continued neglect of Puerto Ricans, after natural disasters continue hitting the island.

The participants discussed the Trump Administration’s atrocious record on Puerto Rico, which includes blocking disaster relief funds for Puerto Rico, failing to deliver critical disaster aid to areas affected by natural disasters, and more recently threatening to veto funds for assistance after the recent earthquakes on the island.

Meanwhile, Democrats in Congress continue to push for more assistance to Puerto Rico. Last week, Congress Democratic Leaders sent a letter to FEMA to extend the major disaster declaration in Puerto Rico to cover the most recent earthquake damages of May 2, 2020.

Highlights from the press conference:

U.S. Representative Darren Soto:

“President Trump has been Puerto Rico’s worst nightmare; particularly when we saw the fallout after the deadly Hurricane Maria, a near Category 5. It was President Trump’s monumental failure to respond, and to respond with so few resources, that led to the largest death toll for a natural disaster in modern history, nearly 3,000 of our brothers and sisters on the island lost their lives. We saw power lost for over 7 months. That would be incomparable in the mainland. And it’s part of the President’s continued personal vendetta against Puerto Rico. During other disasters, he took the perspective that Americans need our help, but in Puerto Rico, his position was that they should be grateful for what they get, which is not how it should be here in the United States. That does not represent our values.”

“Recovery is still taking forever because the Trump Administration is slow walking every dollar. Congress allocated over $42 billion for Puerto Rico disaster relief after Hurricane Maria. Yet today, years later, they’ve received potentially nearly half the money. That is a disgrace.”

Puerto Rico Senate Minority Leader Carmelo Ríos, and Co-Chair of Puerto Rico for Biden:

“Every time we try to do something to help Puerto Rico as a government, there is always a but … And we are lucky enough to have members of Congress who care about Puerto Rico, like Darren and many others, but it’s not enough. Where is President Trump on this issue? He is thinking politically. He is not thinking about the people of Puerto Rico.”

Marcos Vilar, Executive Director, Alianza for Progress:

“All the President has done is kick us while we’re down. That is what President Trump and his administration’s behavior has been to the Puerto Rican people: kick us while we are down. It is time for us to put aside all those things that divide us as Puerto Ricans… That means us in the diaspora continuing our work and supporting Congress and pushing for Congress to give additional funds. We have many friends in Congress such as Senator Bob Menendez from New Jersey, Nydia Velazquez in New York, Rep. Darren Soto, and many many other members of Congress and across the party.”

Natascha Otero-Santiago, Vice President, Democratic Hispanic Caucus of Florida

“In Puerto Rico, more than 3,000 people died as a result of Hurricane Maria. Destroying in its path, not only thousands of residences, but the lives of tens of thousands of families… It is the federal funding owed to Puerto Rico, in the same manner of any disaster area in the US, that needs to get to the island for reconstruction. Trump has lied consistently about how much aid has been given to Puerto Rico, creating a false narrative of $90 billion in aid that has never ever existed.”

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