President Donald Trump on Friday announced a plan to boost pharmaceutical manufacturing in Puerto Rico.
“We used to have pharmaceutical manufacturing at levels that few places had, and a lot of it has left Puerto Rico, and we’re going to bring that back,” Trump said, pointing to the growing movement to return drug manufacturing from countries such as China.
The president said that he had spoken to several companies who asked for a “little bit of help” but was willing to return manufacturing to the island.
Trump’s plan was announced Friday afternoon at a press conference at the White House concerning an overall $13 billion aid package allotted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to the territory.
The package includes a $9.6 billion grant to rebuild the Puerto Rico electrical grid and a $2 billion grant to the Puerto Rico Department of Education to restore school buildings.
The president said that the power grid was long-suffering from salt damage and that Hurricane Maria devastated the entire electrical infrastructure.
The $13 billion combined with the existing Hurricane Maria recovery funds obligates the federal government with a total of $26 billion in recovery aid, according to the White House.
The president said that former President Barack Obama and his former Vice President Joe Biden were a “disaster for Puerto Rico” by allowing the manufacturing to leave the island.
“I have to say in a very nice way, a very respectful way, I’m the best thing that ever happened to Puerto Rico,” he said. “Not even close.”
The president’s tone toward the island was sharply different than his vocal criticism of the island’s corruption and mismanagement of relief funds in 2019.
“Puerto Rico is one of the most corrupt places on earth,” Trump wrote on Twitter in August 2019. “Their political system is broken and their politicians are either Incompetent or Corrupt. Congress approved Billions of Dollars last time, more than anyplace else has ever gotten, and it is sent to Crooked Pols.”