Puerto Ricans Think Trump, U.S. Government Could Do More For The Island | Connecticut Public Radio
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Puerto Ricans Think Trump, U.S. Government Could Do More For The Island

Apr 4, 2019

Federal legislators are fighting over additional disaster aid for Puerto Rico.

President Donald Trump is going after Democrats in the United States Senate, saying they’ve “killed a bill” that’d raise money for relief, which would also include money for the Midwest after recent flooding there. He also blasted the Puerto Rican relief effort on Twitter and that’s where he praised his response to Hurricane Maria, which devastated the island on September 20, 2017.

“The best thing that ever happened to Puerto Rico is Donald J. Trump,” Trump tweeted on Monday.

Connecticut Public Radio visited Park Street, a cultural center for Hartford’s Puerto Rican community, hours after the president made his social media remarks.

“Oh my god,” said Maria Pedraza after being read the tweet. “Who says that? Who says that?”

Pedraza’s originally from Caguas, but now she lives in New York, and she was in Connecticut’s capital visiting her nephew in Hartford Hospital. She’s been back to Caguas since the storm made landfall 19 months ago. She said flooding has destroyed houses – she’s seen standing water on the streets.

“They need to repair houses because that’s what most people need,” said Pedraza. “A lot of houses [were] destroyed by the storm.”

Pedraza didn’t appreciate what Trump did during his visit to the island. He went to an aid station in Guaynabo in 2017 and threw out paper towels to people who’d gathered to see him.

Back on Park Street, Frankie Bones was food on the go at Aqui Me Quedo restaurant when he met a Connecticut Public Radio reporter. He was heading back to work in a hurry. That when he also brought up the paper towel incident.

“He wants to go over there and throw napkins around [being] real disrespectful – that’s not cool,” Bones said. “But at the end of the day, what can I do? I can speak my mind because at the end of the day, I know there’s a lot more money out there to help these people.”

Trump has reportedly told Senate Republicans that he doesn’t want to funnel any more money into fixing Puerto Rican infrastructure.

Alexander Soler – he’s got family in Caguas, Ponce, and Toa Alta – has an idea for how the government could find funding for Puerto Rican aid.

“With the money for construction [Trump] wants for the fence – for the borderline – he could use it for Puerto Rico,” Soler said.

Democrats, including Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal, want as least $450 million in new money put into the bill to support Puerto Rico’s infrastructure.