Rep. Jenniffer González-Colón (R-PR) resisted National Public Radio host Lulu Garcia-Navarro’s push for her to criticize President Donald Trump and his administration’s response to Hurricane Maria’s devastation of the U.S. Territory of Puerto Rico saying, in the end, that the people there are “grateful” for the aid they are receiving.
Here is the exchange between the two that aired on NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday program:
Garcia-Navarro: Good morning. You just returned from Puerto Rico on Friday. You’re now in D.C. You are a Republican. And President Trump has singled you out on Twitter as being wonderful to deal with. At the same time, he tweeted that Puerto Ricans, quote, “want everything to be done for them.” And he attacked, as we said, the mayor of San Juan. What’s your response to that?
González-Colón: I think that people of Puerto Rico are frustrated. We’ve never got this kind of disaster before. So some people ventilated their frustration, like the mayor of San Juan. We convert that frustration into action, into how to help the people. I mean, this is down to saving lives.
Garcia-Navarro: Right. But the president seemed to be implying that after something so devastating, the people of Puerto Rico, who are U.S. citizens, we’re looking for a handout. You know, for some Puerto Ricans, it feels like they’re being treated as second-class citizens. Do you see – do you understand that anger?
González-Colón: Yes. Yes. But you know what? I spoke with him twice during this week and with his secretaries. I think he was referring to the mayor of San Juan’s expression and statement because, I mean, he’s sending…
Garcia-Navarro: Does the mayor not have to – have – cannot speak out about the frustration when she’s dealing with such a – what she perceives to be a slow level of response?
González-Colón: Let me tell you something. Everybody’s frustrated not because of the level of commitment. We’re – the Air Force is there. I mean, I’m seeing the troops doing air drops of food. Everybody there is working hard. We’ve got a problem. The catastrophic disaster we’ve got – we’ve never got this before.
Garcia-Navarro: Are you satisfied with what is being done and how quickly?
González-Colón: I mean, we need more. And when President Trump called me yesterday, he said, I just authorized to have more deployment, more people there, more than 500 trucks and drivers.
Garcia-Navarro: But it’s been many days since Hurricane Maria hit. It’s good that that’s happening now, say the people there. But why did it take so long?
González-Colón: I mean, there were 4,000 people during – before the hurricane. And after the hurricane, that amount of people was 10,000. So that – now that number is going to increase more. I mean, 600 medics on Saturday, 700 beds – new beds. During this week, the U.S. Comfort is going to arrive into the island. You know what? The people of Puerto Rico is grateful.”
The governor of Puerto Rico, meanwhile, said the Trump administration has responded in an “expedited manner.”
“We need to do a lot more in order for us to get out of the emergency,” Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said in San Juan. “But the other thing that’s also true is that the administration has answered and has complied with our petitions in an expedited manner.”