Trump visits storm ravaged Puerto Rico amid criticism over relief effort

World Today

President Donald Trump arrives with first lady Melania Trump to meet with U.S. Virgin Islands Governor Kenneth Mapp, on the USS Kearsarge off the coast of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017. Trump is visiting Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria.(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

U.S. President Donald Trump traveled to Puerto Rico for a first-hand look at the recovery efforts after Hurricane Maria. Trump attempted to take on the role of ‘Comforter-in-chief’ while defending his administration’s handling of the disaster.

During his visit to Puerto Rico, President Donald Trump met with first responders, federal teams and went on a helicopter tour to observe the island’s devastation. His priority was to show the U.S. and those in Puerto Rico that, according to him, everything is under control.

CGTN’s Nitza Soledad Perez discussed the presidential visit with residents of the island. 

It was a love fest. U.S. President Donald Trump congratulated his team, and they thanked him for his support during his first visit to storm-ravaged Puerto Rico.

“An incredible job done by FEMA, done by the Coast Guard, the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Marines,” President Trump said.  

Little was said about the desperate situation still facing Puerto Ricans two weeks after the hurricane hit this U.S. territory. Instead, one of Trump’s first comments was about money.

“Now, I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you’ve thrown our budget a little out of whack,” Trump said.  “Because we’ve spent a lot of money on Puerto Rico and that’s fine. We’ve saved a lot of lives.”

The President handed out supplies in Guaynabo, one of the wealthiest municipalities in San Juan. He did promise to continue helping the island with its recovery.

The rosy picture portrayed by the White House is a sharp contrast to what many face in other parts of Puerto Rico.

Toa Baja was one of the most affected towns, and it took days for the government to show up.  Some locals hope that Trump’s visit would bring the speedy assistance needed to get the island back on track. But others were not too happy about his appearance.

“So what expectations do I have of President Trump? Not many,” Sonia Cabanillas said. “I don’t think he’s well-informed about our country. I don’t think that he is well-intentioned toward us and I am sorry, I don’t have much faith in him.”

Before the President’s visit, he insulted many when he tweeted quote “… they want everything handed to them.” The impression given was he did not understand the severity of the conditions here: the island’s power grid is gone, less than half of the residents have running water. It’s still difficult for many to get a cell phone signal or find fuel for their generators or cars.

Frances Colon discusses Trump’s visit to Puerto Rico

Frances Colon is from Puerto Rico and was an adviser to John Kerry when he was U.S. Secretary of State.CGTN’s Mike Walter asked her about the optics and potential impact of President Trump’s trip to Puerto Rico.