News and Commentary

San Juan Mayor Admits She Hasn’t Met With Federal Officials At Joint Field Office Over Hurricane Relief Efforts

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, a Democrat, went on a tirade on Saturday, accusing President Trump of allowing Puerto Ricans to die because he just doesn’t care.

But now it turns out Cruz is not in the loop and hasn’t even bothered to participate in meetings with officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) or other federal agencies.

In a Sunday morning interview with George Stephanopoulos for ABC’s This Week, the former Clinton press secretary grilled Cruz on what she’s been up to since Hurricane Maria hit:

STEPHANOPOULOS: 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.

Have you been to the joint field office? And if not, why not?

CRUZ: 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.

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. 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.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Will you meet with them?

CRUZ: People from my administration, people from my administration have been to the — yes.

So, “people from [her] administration” have been to the federal field office, but she hasn’t? Wasn’t she, uh, elected by the people of San Juan to do just that?! Isn’t she, as mayor, in charge?!

Cruz got in an extended argument with Trump on Saturday when she held a press conference — ironically in front of pallets containing massive supplies sent since the hurricane struck — saying the president has “abandoned” Puerto Rico. Trump fired back with several posts on Twitter that the federal government is going all out in its attempts to help the U.S. territory.

FEMA administrator Brock Long told CNN on Saturday that Cruz hasn’t connected with the FEMA command center established to coordinate relief 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 told CNN’s Fredricka Whitfield, The Hill reported.

The mayor of Guaynabo, Angel Perez, meanwhile, said in an interview with The Daily Caller “that his experience with the federal government has been different from Cruz’s, in part because — unlike Cruz — he has been participating in meetings with officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other federal agencies.”

Cruz, a Democrat, has repeatedly accused Trump and the federal government of abandoning Puerto Rico. She demanded in a press conference on Friday that Trump do more to help the island, adding that “we are going to see is something close to a genocide” if more is not done. (RELATED: Trump Takes On San Juan Mayor For ‘Nasty’ Criticism Of Puerto Rico Response)

Mayor Perez told TheDC that the story Cruz is telling the media doesn’t mesh with what he has seen from the federal government.

“My experience is different. I have been participating in different meetings at the headquarters of FEMA and our government and the help is coming in and right now my experience is different from hers. I’m receiving help from the government, we are receiving assistance from FEMA, I got people over here helping us with applications for the people that have damage in their houses. And we have here in Guaynabo, we have thousands of people that lost partially or totally their houses,” said Perez, who is a member of Puerto Rico’s New Progressive Party.