Trump Goes to War With Puerto Rico

Trump Goes to War With Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico has had a tough go of it lately. Earlier this year, its debt problems spilled over into crisis as public debt reached more than $70 billion, or about 56% GDP. That may sound low in the context of sovereign nations, like the United States itself which has the privilege of printing money, but compares to 23% of GDP in the state with the highest relative debt load (it’s New York). It also does not include another $50 billion in pension liabilities of the territory. All the while, the unemployment rate rose past 12% and the poverty rate hit 45%.

Then, Hurricanes Irma and Maria hit in quick succession. Under any circumstance, the storms would have wreaked havoc, but Puerto Rico was especially susceptible because of its aging electricity infrastructure and large numbers of impoverished citizens. Around 90% of residents remain without power, 45% have access to drinking water, and 60% of gas stations are open.

While the United States government has been involved in providing relief assistance, many have felt that it has not been enough. Carmen Yulin Cruz, mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico’s capital, apparently agrees. She has criticized the government and Trump himself for not doing more to help people in Puerto Rico, saying “We are dying here. If anybody out there is listening to us, we are dying and you are killing us with the inefficiency and beauracracy.”

Trump took to Twitter to counter-attack.

In addition to regularly saying that his team has done a wonderful job, he has frequently criticized Puerto Rico itself for not cooperating as well as stating that the infrastructure on the island has made any attempts at aid extremely difficult.



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