‘Mr Trump, I am begging. We are dying here’

Carmen Yulín Cruz spoke on about the growing crisis in Puerto Rico – and appealed directly to the US president. Read a transcript of her speech here

Solymlar Duprey holds her daughter Miabella as they try to get on an evacuation cruise ship leaving San Juan. Photograph: Carolyn Cole/LA Times via Getty Images

Carmen Yulín Cruz, the mayor of San Juan, spoke on Friday afternoon at the Roberto Clemente Coliseum. Like the rest of the US territory, the capital of Puerto Rico was hit hard this month by two hurricanes, Jose and Maria.

The island is now struggling to repair damage, restore basic services and maximise the impact of a federal aid effort which Donald Trump and his administration have trumpeted but which many critics of the president have called slow and politically motivated.

On Friday, Trump continued to insist that Puerto Rican leaders had praised his efforts and said logistical difficulties were slowing the delivery of aid.

“This is an island,” he said, “surrounded by water. Big water, ocean water.”

As she spoke to reporters, Cruz became emotional. This is a transcript of her remarks:

‘We are dying here. We are in trouble’

“We are dying here. And I cannot fathom the thought that the greatest nation in the world cannot figure out the logistics for a small island of 100 miles by 35 miles. So, mayday, we are in trouble.

“Fema [the Federal Emergency Management Administration] asks for documentation, I think we’ve given them enough documentation.”

“They had the gall this morning – look at this [gestures to two large binders filled with paper] – they had the gall this morning of asking me: ‘What are your priorities, mayor?’

“Well, where have you been?

“And I have been very respectful of the Fema employees. I have been patient but we have no time for patience any more.

“So, I am asking the president of the United States to make sure somebody is in charge that is up to the task of saving lives.

“They were up the task in Africa…

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