Friday, 23 February, 2018

USA to stand with Puerto Rico until "job is done" -White House

Children play at the Jose de Diego Elementary School where people are filing FEMA forms for federal aid in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Las Piedras Puerto Rico on Oct. 2. Much of the countryside is still struggling to find fresh water and food Puerto Rico's death toll from Hurricane Maria rises to 43, power outages remain
Sammy Stanley | 13 October, 2017, 00:10

He says Puerto Rico shouldn't expect federal help "forever".

The president's tweets set off a flurry of chatter online, given that the US territory is barely entering its third week with the majority of the population still without power and one-third without water.

"This country, our country, will stand with those American citizens in Puerto Rico until the job is done", Kelly told reporters at the White House, adding that the president's tweet on Thursday morning was "exactly accurate". It has killed at least 45 people, and about 85 percent of Puerto Rico residents still lack electricity.

Democrats said Trump's tweets were deplorable, given that the 3 million-plus USA citizens on Puerto Rico are confronting the kind of hardships that would draw howls of outrage if they affected a state.

By comparison, the death toll in Texas where Hurricane Harvey made landfall on August 25 has reached 75, the Houston Chronicle reported.

Hurricane Maria struck September 20.

Official figures remain to be finalized.

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Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) pushed back shortly after Trump tweeted, asking the President why he "continue (s) to treat Puerto Ricans differently than other Americans" and saying FEMA needs to stay in the USA territory "until the job is done".

The piece, published Thursday, comes after President Trump earlier in the day warned that his administration's response to Puerto Rico can not last "forever".

The death toll in Puerto Rico attributed to Hurricane Maria has reached 43, an official said on Tuesday, up from 39 previously reported, as islanders continue to fall victim to infections, bad road conditions and other consequences of the storm. Trump countered by praising FEMA and first-responders as doing a "great job".

His comments - in which he also blamed the beleaguered island for a financial crisis "largely of their own making" and infrastructure that was a "disaster" before the hurricane - come as Puerto Rico still reels from a lack of electricity, public health access and a rising death toll. But it is Trump's tone toward Puerto Rico that has drawn the most criticism.

"The people of Puerto Rico are American citizens and they deserve federal assistance to recover and rebuild", Jennifer Hing, a spokeswoman for House Appropriations Committee chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen, said in a statement to Anadolu Agency.

And Alejandro García Padilla, the former governor of Puerto Rico, said it is important be plain about what this is: "racist". "It's not only unsafe, it's expensive".

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