In an emotional response to an upbeat assessment by acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke, the mayor of San Juan denied that Puerto Rico’s recovery from Hurricane Maria was a “good news story.”
Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz was being interviewed by CNN Friday morning when the network played a clip of Duke saying she was pleased with how things were going for the 3.4 million American citizens on Puerto Rico.
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“I am very satisfied,” said Duke in a statement outside the White House Thursday. “I know it’s a hard storm to recover from, but the amount of progress that’s been made — I’d really appreciate any support we can get. I know it is really a good-news story in terms of our ability to reach people and the limited number of deaths that have taken place in such a devastating hurricane.”
Cruz paused before responding, becoming emotional as she spoke.
“Well, maybe from where she’s standing it’s a good-news story,” said the mayor, who has been pleading for help since Maria hit the island over a week ago. “When you’re drinking from a creek, it’s not a good-news story. When you don’t have food for a baby, it’s not a good-news story. When you have to pull people down from their buildings — I’m sorry, but that really upsets and frustrates me. I would ask her to come down here and visit the towns and then make a statement like that, which frankly is an irresponsible statement and contrast with the statements of support that I have been getting since yesterday when I got that call from the White House.”
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“Dammit, this is not a good-news story, this is a people-are-dying story,” continued Cruz. “This is a life-or-death story. This is ‘there’s a truckload of stuff that cannot be taken to people’ story. This is a story of devastation that continues to worsen because people are not getting food or…