When San Juan, Puerto Rico Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz went on TV this weekend and began ranting about how Puerto Ricans were “dying” and how the Trump administration wasn’t doing enough to help the island territory in the wake of Hurricane Maria, she instantly became a hero of the left — especially after the president critically tweeted back at her.
Major news agencies began running extensive profiles of her. Celebrities like Lin-Manuel Miranda and Lady Gaga began tweeting their support of Cruz and their contempt of the president. She instantly became the face of the new narrative — namely, that the Trump administration couldn’t care less about Puerto Rico.
However, on Sunday, a little problem emerged. While Cruz had spent most of the weekend vociferously complaining about the federal government’s disaster response, it turns out she has yet to even meet with the disaster response team.
The mayor made the admission during one of her multitudinous media appearances, this one on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.” To his (rare) credit, Stephanopoulos actually pressed Cruz on what the administration has been saying about her lack of involvement in disaster relief efforts.
“The president’s FEMA director is suggesting you’re not really plugged in. Yesterday, he said you need to make your way to the joint field office and get plugged in to what’s going on,” Stephanopoulos said, according to The Daily Wire. “Have you been to the joint field office? And if not, why not?”
And, cue massive equivocation.
“Well, number one, I got a call from the White House a couple of days ago. I think it was Thursday. Mr. Bossert took it upon himself to call and I was very glad that he called. He seemed to be a very action-prone — a guy that does what he says and says what he does,” Cruz said.
“So we got appointed a FEMA coordinator. We have two people that are appointed to San Juan. We are the capital city, the largest city in Puerto Rico, with the most amount of population. And we got appointed just — direct links. So, actually, I was in FEMA the couple of days afterwards. When they were at the San Juan Marriott, I was invited to visit and we have been communicating ever since.
“Things have to be done in a sustained manner,” she continued. “If I only get for a population of 350,000 or perhaps half of them are in need of food and water, sustained supplies, then, you know, I get four pallets of food, three pallets of water, that’s really not even going to provide for a dent. The supply chain of aid has to be sustained. And we have the logistics in order to do that.”
“Will you meet with them?” Stephanopoulos asked.
“People from my administration, people from my administration have been to the — yes.”
In other words, she hasn’t been to those meetings, but “people from my administration” have been. Clearly this a priority for her.
While Cruz’s claims that the president had “abandoned” Puerto Rico had gotten plenty of uncritical play in the media, there was plenty of writing on the wall to indicate Cruz’s public pleas were nothing more than politics. Take FEMA Director Brock Long, who told CNN that the San Juan mayor hadn’t even reached out to the command center to coordinate efforts.
“The problem that we have with the mayor unfortunately is that unity of command is ultimately what’s needed to be successful in this response,” Long said.
If you don’t buy what a Trump administration official has to say, though, perhaps you’ll believe another Puerto Rican mayor. Guaynabo Mayor Angel Perez Otero told the Washington Examiner that, surprise surprise, Cruz has been absent in meetings with FEMA and military officials down in Puerto Rico.
“I’ve seen other mayors participating. She’s not,” Otero said.
But she sure finds enough time to be on TV, doesn’t she?
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