As Hurricane Florence approached the East coast of the U.S., Trump declared that the federal response to Hurricane María in Puerto Rico last year was an “incredible unsung success.” His statement comes despite the fact that nearly 3,000 people died as a consequence of the storm and its aftermath. Further analysis shows the number of deaths may be as high as 4,000 people.
But it doesn’t stop there. Last week, Trump refused to accept that 3,000 people died in Puerto Rico because of Hurricane María. Not only that, but he said that this is a ploy from the Democrats “in order to make me look as bad as possible.” Trump’s declaration over the death toll is indicative of the kind of person he is: someone who always lies, who politicizes everything, and who believes that everything revolves around him. It doesn’t matter that there were thousands of deaths in a tragedy that was magnified by the poor response from his own government. The only thing that matters is Trump. And when it comes to denying the death toll, just remember who says it: the same person who assured us that Russia didn’t intervene in the 2016 elections and that there was “no collusion.”
You don’t have to seek out reasons for Trump’s insensitivity, it’s simply in his nature. It’s also part of his vision and that of his supporters who follow him blindly. To them Puerto Ricans aren’t American citizens because they live on an island and speak Spanish. As Trump said last year when he described Puerto Rico as “an island surrounded by water, big water, ocean water.” And on September 12th, he tweeted that Puerto Rico is an “inaccessible” island.
Perhaps, in the eyes of Trump, the lives of Puerto Ricans aren’t as valuable as Anglo-Saxons, or maybe Norwegians. Last year Trump lamented that only immigrants from “s…hole countries” come to the U.S. and not from countries like Norway, for example.
Although in reality Trump doesn’t care about the lives of anybody, he only cares about himself. That might explain why on the day they announced the preparations for Hurricane Florence, and on the same day that Trump made his barbaric comments on the government’s response to Hurricane María, it was revealed that in the middle of hurricane season, the administration transferred nearly 10 million dollars from FEMA to other agencies, including ICE, to increase capacity for detentions and removals. FEMA argued that these were operational funds and not disaster relief funds.
But ICE is always Trump’s priority. He puts his anti-immigrant agenda above everything else. This is why he threatens a budget fight that could even result in a government shutdown this fall, as he continues to throw temper tantrums like the “man-child” he is in order to get funding for his useless border wall.
We must remember that midterm elections are right around the corner, and Trump and the Republicans’ strategy, in general, is to paint immigrants as a threat to national security in order to energize his base to go to the ballot and ensure that Congress remains in Republican hands.
However, the only threat to our security is Trump himself with his chaotic presidency, his impulsive decisions, his flirting with dictators and autocrats, his backwards budgetary priorities, as well as his constant lies.
With the elections at our door, many of us Puerto Ricans who lived and survived Hurricane María last year, without electricity for months, without water, struggling to find food and fuel, and watching with horror how the federal government that Trump leads disrespected us at every opportunity, like the second and third class citizens that he believes we are, will take into account his “successful” response to this tragedy.
Yes, Mr. President. Your response to “María” was as “successful” as your chaotic presidency.
Maribel Hastings is the Director of América’s Voice en Español.
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