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Cuomo chides Trump over Puerto Rico's slow recovery, calls for more federal aid

More than four months after Hurricane Maria slammed the island, almost a third of the population is still without electricity.

Puerto Rico's recovery isn't advancing quickly enough, Gov.

Puerto Rico's recovery isn't advancing quickly enough, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo says. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Saturday said he is “ashamed . . . of what this country has done” in failing to help Puerto Rico recover quicker from last year’s hurricane.

Addressing a rally aimed at persuading the GOP-led Congress to allocate more tax dollars to fund the recovery, Cuomo blamed Trump administration officials’ “disrespect” toward those “who don’t fit their picture of America.”

“The disrespect shown by this administration is not just toward the people of Puerto Rico,” Cuomo said. “This administration has shown disrespect for any people who they believe are different.

“We have seen disrespect to Muslim-Americans. We’ve seen disrespect to gay Americans. We’ve seen disrespect to female Americans. We’ve seen disrespect to working-class Americans. We’ve seen disrespect in this administration to Haitians and Salvadorans and to Africans.”

A call to the White House was not immediately returned.

More than four months after Hurricane Maria slammed the island, almost a third of utility customers still lack power, the Puerto Rican government’s recovery website says.

President Donald Trump, long criticized for his government’s slow response compared to other American disasters, directed a message to the island’s 3.3 million people, during his State of the Union address Tuesday: “We are with you, we love you, and we always will pull through together. Always.”

But politicians at Saturday’s rally, demanding $94.4 billion in disaster relief, ridiculed Trump, including an episode in which he tossed paper towels in October to clamoring Puerto Ricans at a relief center in the capital San Juan, and his comments in September attributing the delay to the territory being “an island surrounded by big water.”

“We don’t need paper towels,” Rep. José E. Serrano (D-Bronx) said to cheers. “I don’t need to be told to somebody in a big house that Puerto Rico is an island surrounded by water.”

In the storm’s aftermath, Cuomo has visited the island, sent 1,000 workers, including State Police troopers and National Guard personnel, along with humanitarian supplies exceeding $1 million, according to his office.


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