Just one day after the official death toll was raised to 2,795 people and nearly a year after President Donald Trump was slammed for his callous reaction and apathetic response to the post-Maria crisis in Puerto Rico—including a scene in which he tossed paper towels to survivors in an emergency shelter like it was some kind of game—the president on Wednesday afternoon once more bragged about his handling of the disaster in remarks that drew immediate outrage from Puerto Ricans and their allies.
"I think we did a fantastic job in Puerto Rico," Trump said from the White House. "The governor is an excellent guy and he's very happy with the job we've done... I think most of the people in Puerto Rico really appreciate what we've done."
Trump: "I think we did a fantastic job in Puerto Rico. We're still helping Puerto Rico. The governor is an excellent guy and he's very happy with the job we've done... I think most of the people in Puerto Rico really appreciate what we've done." pic.twitter.com/LjfTiObzSd— NBC Politics (@NBCPolitics) August 29, 2018
In reaction to Trump's comments, San Juan's Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz—one of the president's harshest critics in the wake of the storm and the administration's track record since—said it is clear that even after all this time he "just doesn't get it," and probably never will.
"He's incapable of getting it," Cruz said in an interview on MSNBC Wednesday. "We died because bureaucracy and inefficiency took hold of things. We died because many in the political class in Puerto Rico decided to dance to Donald Trump's tune, rather than doing what everybody out to do, which is: tell the truth no matter how mighty the person you're telling the truth seems."
Trump, on his post-storm visit to Puerto Rico, boasted that people there should be proud Maria wasn't a “real catastrophe like Katrina.”— Eric Holthaus (@EricHolthaus) August 29, 2018
1,833 people died in Katrina.
2,975 people died in Maria—most *after* the president’s visit.https://t.co/D0LzKMMi5Lhttps://t.co/W2w6VbSz63
Of the storm's victims, Cruz continued, "These are 2,975 people that will no longer see the light of day. These are parents, children, grandchildren, grandparents—people's whose lives will never be the same and the onset of fear and lack of dignity in which the Trump administration continues to treat the people of Puerto Rico makes you mad, makes you angry, and makes you realize that this man, it's not that he doesn't want to get it, but that he is incapable of feeling solidarity and empathy."
San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz: "There is nothing worse than people that don't want to hear the truth, because the truth ... would make them understand that they failed -- and the Trump admin. failed the people of Puerto Rico." pic.twitter.com/Mk7qHlW5rp— MSNBC (@MSNBC) August 29, 2018
Meanwhile, one former resident of the U.S. territory put it this way: