San Juan disputes Homeland Security secretary statement

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…

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