Thursday, May 24, 2018

San Juan mayor to attend Trump’s State of the Union address

By on January 29, 2018

SAN JUAN – San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz will attend President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address Tuesday after she was invited by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). She will travel to Washington, D.C. Monday evening and return to Puerto Rico on Wednesday.

“I appreciate the invitation extended by Sen. Gillibrand to attend the State of the Union message where President Trump will have another opportunity to assume the moral imperative that the United States has with Puerto Rico to take concrete actions so that we can get out of the humanitarian and fiscal crises that worsened as a result of hurricanes Irma and Maria.

“The president has another extraordinary opportunity to redeem himself before us and the world, and to stop the clear violation of our human rights that has resulted from the lack of attention to Puerto Rico affairs,” the mayor said.

Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz made national headlines over back-and-forth altercations with the president after the Category-4 storm devastated the Puerto Rico. (Felipe Torres/CB)

Cruz added that “we have been forgotten, ignored by the president when there are still thousands of families without a roof and without electricity islandwide. There are still thousands of elderly people lacking the basic necessities for a dignified life; children who have not returned to their school routine, citizens who lost their jobs and more than 300,000 who have had to leave our homeland due to the federal administration’s mismanagement of the crisis. I hope that the president will put aside his rhetoric of contempt for the needs of Puerto Rico. To do otherwise is an unforgivable lack of sensitivity. His irresponsibility will continue to increase the crisis.

“Today we had to help a school outside the metropolitan area that has no electricity, no water, nor milk for its students. In San Juan there are thousands of people without power and without a safe roof, and this is repeated throughout Puerto Rico while the promises of help do not materialize and excuses are the order of the day. This has to be denounced here, there and wherever they hear our claims,” the mayor denounced.

The mayor said, “Puerto Rico’s agenda is clear,” and offered a list of steps to be taken, detailed below:

  1. Immediate cash injection for the municipalities and the central government to be able to face the problems of our citizenry.
  2. Put all efforts to restore electricity service to 35% of our citizens who still don’t have it 132 days after Maria, in a clear violation of our human rights.
  3. Place the people before the debt and forgive the latter’s payment and thus give relief to Puerto Rico.
  4. Immediate elimination of cabotage laws or a moratorium to allow humanitarian aid.
  5. Dispensation of the Stafford Disaster Relief Act (FEMA) that forces us to rebuild what was lost as it was and does not allow us to improve the infrastructure to withstand the future onslaught of atmospheric events that we will face. It’s not worth it to rebuild a house with wood and zinc roofs, to be blown away by the next hurricane.
  6. FEMA has to streamline the reimbursement process for municipalities. If they need to hire additional resources then do it.

“Perhaps what is of vital importance is that the recovery and transformation of Puerto Rico must be in Puerto Rican hands,” she stated.

“I have accepted this invitation and I will continue to take advantage of the forums in Puerto Rico, in the United States or in any place I have available to ensure that the case of Puerto Rico is not forgotten and that justice is done to San Juan and other municipalities,” Cruz said.

Gillibrand made the announcement via Twitter to invite the mayor to attend the president’s State of the Union address.

“Throughout the crisis in Puerto Rico, Mayor Cruz has shown extraordinary leadership and fearless advocacy for her city,” she tweeted. “I hope Mayor Cruz’s presence at #SOTU will remind the president and my colleagues in Congress of our urgent responsibility to help Puerto Rico fully recover and rebuild. Our fellow citizens must not be forgotten or left behind.”

Meanwhile, Cruz replied that it is “an honor to represent thousands in San Juan and more in Puerto Rico who still have no electricity and fight everyday [sic] for a better today.”

The major gained national fame as a frequent critic of Trump and his administration’s response to the category-4 hurricane that devastated the island in September.

The two officials made social media exchanges on numerous occasions. In a string of tweets in September, the president accused Cruz of “poor leadership” after Hurricane Maria. In turn, Cruz criticized Trump as an “enemy-in-chief” in a series of tweets in mid-October.

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