San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz proclaims, "survival cannot be our new way of life" after criticizing the United States' federal response to Puerto Rico before Congress Wednesday.
Cruz made the statement shortly after her hearing with House Committee on Homeland Security, set for Wednesday, was canceled. She learned of the cancelation just as she arrived in Washington.
Although it's been six weeks since Hurricane Maria ravaged the island, certain areas of Puerto Rico still remain without power, water and different supplies to survive. Education and health care have also been a major concern as the island lacks the energy to power schools and hospitals.
Cruz blasted President Trump, specifically, on his lack of urgency to aid Puerto Rico, revealing "the situation is still a life or death situation." She also said that the U.S. Federal response has been a way for the "Trump administration not to comply with their moral obligation to help the people of Puerto Rico."
According to NBC News, the White House's Director of Media Affairs, Helen Aguirre Ferré, defended Trump and his administrations relief efforts; "The Trump administration continues to work earnestly with government officials of Puerto Rico ... FEMA was on the island prior to Hurricanes Irma and Maria, during the storms and remains still with 16,500 men and women providing critical humanitarian supplies and support not only to the governor and mayors, but most importantly, to the people of Puerto Rico who are our main concern," Ferré said.
In Cruz's written testimony, she says that one in three people in San Juan "have gone into our robust supply chain of help." According to NBC, "about 60 percent of donations" are coming from "private groups and 40 percent from FEMA." The relief supplied from the US government has been extremely slow and sparse and one of Cruz's suggestions to remedy this demands that the administration postpone the Jones Act for four years, the law that restricts the transportation of goods between U.S. ports. On September 28th, San Juan received only 12 pallets of various supplies to aid the entirety of San Juan, which has a population of 350,000 people.
Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley, D-New York., organized the news conference. U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss. was also present and has been an avid supporter of hurricane relief efforts.
Cruz closed the news conference by challenging President Trump to do more in relation to the Island; “I am here to say what I was going to say at that hearing, that they seemed not to want to hear, Mr. Trump, do your job. Lives are at stake. This is not about politics. This is not about your ego. This is about the people of Puerto Rico and the people of the U.S. VI (Virgin Islands).”