Nearly two weeks after Hurricane Maria devastated the island, Puerto Rico’s 3.5 million residents still have nearly no electricity, and supplies of food, fuel and freshwater are dwindling. President Trump is scheduled to visit Puerto Rico on Tuesday, but attacked San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz in a series of tweets while he was at his private golf resort in Bedminister, New Jersey, this weekend. Trump wrote, “The Mayor of San Juan, who was very complimentary only a few days ago, has now been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump. Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help. They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort. 10,000 Federal workers now on Island doing a fantastic job.”
Trump drew outrage for his tweets, including from acclaimed playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator and original star of “Hamilton.” On Saturday, Miranda tweeted, “You’re going straight to hell, @realDonaldTrump. No long lines for you. Someone will say, ‘Right this way, sir.’ They’ll clear a path.” We speak with Luis Miranda Jr., the father of Lin-Manuel Miranda and a founding partner of the MirRam Group consulting firm. His new piece for the New York Daily News is titled “Puerto Ricans aren’t ‘lazy’ and will remember Trump’s bad hurricane response.” Both he and his son, Lin-Manuel, have been raising money for Hurricane Maria relief efforts.
AMY GOODMAN: We begin today’s show with the unfolding humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico. Nearly two weeks after Hurricane Maria devastated the island, Puerto Rico’s three-and-a-half million residents still have nearly no electricity and dwindling supplies of food, fuel and fresh water. President Trump is scheduled to visit Puerto Rico Tuesday as another storm is brewing—a political storm between San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz and the president himself. Speaking on CNN Friday, Mayor Yulín Cruz slammed attempts by the Trump White House to spin the situation in Puerto Rico as a “good news story.”
MAYOR CARMEN YULÍN CRUZ: When you’re drinking from a creek, it’s not a good news story. When you don’t have food for a baby, it’s not a good news story. When you have to pull people down from their buildings because—you know, I’m sorry, but that really upsets me and frustrates me. You know, get up—I would ask you to come down here and visit the towns, and then make a statement like that, which, frankly, it is an irresponsible statement and a contrast with the statements of support that I have been getting since yesterday, when I got that call from the White House. This is—damn it, this is not a good news story. This is a people-are-dying story. This is a life-or-death story. This is a there’s-a-truckload-of-stuff-that-cannot-be-taken-to-people story. This is a story of a devastation that continues to worsen.
AMY GOODMAN: On Friday, Trump’s own point person in Puerto Rico, Army Lieutenant General Jeff Buchanan, similarly noted the Defense Department has not sent enough resources to help hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico.
But on Saturday morning, President Trump attacked Mayor Yulín Cruz, while Trump was at his private golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey. Over a series of tweets, Trump wrote, quote, “The Mayor of San Juan, who was very complimentary only a few days ago, has now been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump. Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help. They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort. 10,000 Federal workers now on Island doing a fantastic job,” he tweeted.
Trump’s comments drew widespread disbelief and condemnation. Many noted Trump used racially coded language to talk about Puerto Ricans, implying they’re lazy. On Sunday, Trump dedicated a golf trophy at the Presidents Cup golf tournament to victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: And on behalf of all of the people of Texas and all of the people of—if you look today and you see what’s happening, how horrible it is, but we have it under really great control—Puerto Rico and the people of Florida, who have really suffered over this last short period of time with the hurricanes, I want to just remember them, and we’re going to dedicate this trophy to all of those people that went through so much, that we love, a part of our great state, really, a part of our great nation.
AMY GOODMAN: Trump’s dedication of the golf trophy drew outrage and ridicule. California Democratic Congressmember Ted Lieu tweeted, “Dear @realDonaldTrump: US citizens in Puerto Rico need water, food, oxygen tanks, medicine BUT NOT A GOLF TROPHY. You still don’t get it,” unquote. Among those who have criticized Trump over his comments about Puerto Rico was the acclaimed playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator and original star of Hamilton. On Saturday, Miranda tweeted, “You’re going straight to hell, @realDonaldTrump. No long lines for you. Someone will say, ‘Right this way, sir.’ They’ll clear a path,” unquote.
Well, for more, we’re going to Miami, Florida, where we’re joined by Luis Miranda Jr., the father of Lin-Manuel Miranda. Luis Miranda is a founding partner of the MirRam Group consulting firm. His new piece for the New York Daily News is headlined “Puerto Ricans aren’t ‘lazy’ and will remember Trump’s bad hurricane response.” Both he and his son, Lin-Manuel, have been raising money for Hurricane Maria relief efforts.
And at Rutgers in New Brunswick, New Jersey, we’re joined by Democracy Now! co-host Juan González, former staff writer at the New York Daily News and author—his latest book, Reclaiming Gotham: Bill de Blasio and the Movement to End America’s Tale of Two Cities—also the author of Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America.
Well, we welcome you both to Democracy Now! Juan, let’s start with you and your assessment of what’s happened so far on this day before President Trump, under withering criticism, finally heads to Puerto Rico tomorrow, along with the U.S. Virgin Islands.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, Amy—and welcome to Democracy Now! listeners. I just want to say that to hear President Trump claim that the situation is under control is completely at odds with reality. I just learned, before coming on the air, that one of the longtime leaders of the Puerto Rican community, Lorraine Montenegro, the daughter of the civil rights icon Evelina Antonetty, died yesterday in Puerto Rico. She apparently had been without water and electricity in the town of Carolina. She started feeling ill. She was dehydrated. She went to the hospital, and she died within a few hours. This is a direct example of some of the continuing problems that exist between—between those Puerto Ricans who are still dealing with this crisis of no electricity, many of them with no water, and the infrastructure and the aid that has come so far is not sufficient to assist them.
AMY GOODMAN: And, Luis Miranda, can you talk about how you and your son, Lin-Manuel Miranda of, well, so much fame, particularly Hamilton—how you learned of Donald Trump’s tweet attacking the mayor of San Juan? The way most people know the mayor of San Juan right now across the United States is seeing her in a life preserver with water up to her chest, walking through with a megaphone trying to help and save people, since there’s no electricity and communication to be able to make sure they get out of their homes. That’s the image most people have of this woman, as Donald Trump attacked her, by tweet, from his golf resort in Bedminster.
LUIS MIRANDA JR.: We learned like everyone else: You know, we read. We happened to be together, my son, Lin-Manuel, and I. And we just read the tweets, like most of us did, and sort of were upset and confused by such unbelievably coded racist behavior. It’s behavior that we have heard and words that we have heard over and over and over that somehow we don’t do enough, we don’t help ourselves enough, which, as Lin-Manuel, myself, my family, we have spent the last 12 days working nonstop in the U.S. to raise dollars for what’s happening in Puerto Rico.
And as we see the images and we talk to our family, everybody, hands on, doing everything they can to help their neighbors, to help what’s happening in Puerto Rico, and here is the president of the United States, rather than showing compassion, just doing what he does best. It’s red meat to his supporters. Remember, this guy did not say a word for an entire weekend while things in Puerto Rico were getting worse. Instead, he spent the entire weekend fighting with football players. But when he can then be negative and destructive, and his supporters then can applaud that he’s tough towards Puerto Ricans, then he talks about us.
AMY GOODMAN: And just to clarify, what you’re talking about, not this past weekend, but the weekend before, something like 15 tweets of President Trump attacking black athletes in the NFL for taking the knee, and calling them sons of Bs—right?—with no tweet at that time around Puerto Rico, and then, this weekend, attacking the mayor of San Juan.
LUIS MIRANDA JR.: Correct. We’re all working nonstop, and he’s just attacking for the sake of attacking. He’s not accomplishing anything. He’s not creating consciousness. He’s not moving the needle. He’s just doing what he does best. You know, his support continues to dwindle. There is this core of supporters who need this red meat, because they’re not getting any legislative change of the agenda, the protectionist and anti-immigrant agenda that Trump promised them. So the way he keeps them together is just by throwing attacks to people and against people that he believes those supporters are going to applaud.
AMY GOODMAN: So, Lin-Manuel tweets on Saturday, “You’re going straight to hell, @realDonaldTrump. No long lines for you. Someone will say, ‘Right this way, sir.’ They’ll clear a path.” What has been the response to that tweet?
LUIS MIRANDA JR.: The responses, overwhelmingly, have been of support, because people were feeling exactly what Lin-Manuel was feeling and revealed in that tweet. We need to do something, Mr. President. We are doing everything we can. And your response, it’s one of attack against the Puerto Rican people. So you are going straight to hell, a metaphor to show that your behavior, it’s totally unacceptable, particularly from the moral leader of the greatest country in the world.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Luis Miranda, who is the father of Lin-Manuel Miranda, the famed playwright, singer, musician, activist. And we’re talking to Juan González. He’s at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
This is Democracy Now! We’ll come back and continue talking about Puerto Rico, get a report from the streets of the community relief efforts that are going on as Puerto Ricans help each other. And then we’ll look at the Catalonian independence referendum, more than 800 people injured by the Spanish security forces. Stay with us.
AMY GOODMAN: In the Heights, the play before Hamilton, by, yes, Lin-Manuel Miranda, as we speak with his father, Luis Miranda, who’s in Miami today. He and his son are coordinating relief efforts in Puerto Rico.