04:55 GMT25 February 2021
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    US President Donald Trump has been heavily criticized for his response to an ongoing humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico in the wake of Category 4 Hurricane Maria, which knocked out electricity to over one million people.

    On Wednesday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reported that 42 percent of the population is without drinkable water and over 10,000 people are living in 161 shelters. 

    The mayor of Puerto Rico's largest city, San Juan, criticized Trump on Saturday, after begging for additional federal assistance, and contrasted the administration's response with that of Goya, an American foods producer, which donated 200,000 pounds of food.

    "We are dying, and you are killing us with inefficiency and bureaucracy," Carmen Yulín Cruz said Friday at a news conference.

    "This is what we got last night: four pallets of water, three pallets of meals and 12 pallets of baby food — which I gave them to the people of Comerio, where people are drinking out of a creek," she said, reported by NBC news.

    "So I am done being polite. I am done being politically correct."

    Trump quickly retaliated, denouncing Puerto Rican officials and claiming early Saturday that Cruz had "poor leadership ability."

    "They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort," he tweeted. "10,000 federal workers now on island doing a good job."

    The Trump administration appointed three-star Lieutenant General Jeffrey Buchanan, who headed to Puerto Rico on Thursday, to run military operations.

    "General Buchanan, a three-star general, has said that he doesn't have enough troops and he doesn't have enough equipment," the mayor commented, adding, "So who am I? I'm just a little mayor from the capital of San Juan. This is a three-star general saying he doesn't have the appropriate amount of tools."

    According to a US army spokesperson, as of Friday, the Army had over 4,900 soldiers and Army Corps of Engineers civilian personnel in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, also affected by the hurricane. Currently, 30 aircraft and over 500 trucks are working to provide relief efforts, according to FEMA figures. The National Guard expects that 1,400 guard forces will head to Puerto Rico over the next four days.

    FEMA announced that Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands have received 6.5 million liters of water and 4.4 million kids meals.

    However, Cruz stated that help is not arriving fast enough. 

    "I cannot fathom the thought that the greatest nation in the world cannot figure out logistics for a small island of 100 miles by 35 miles," she said.

    "If we don't get the food and the water into people's hands, we are going to see something close to a genocide," she added.

    "I am asking the president of the United States to make sure somebody is in charge that is up to the task of saving lives," Cruz said.

    On Thursday, Trump announced that he and First Lady Melania Trump would visit Puerto Rico on Tuesday.

    Cruz told MSNBC that she would be "very glad" to meet with Trump.

    "But again, this is about saving lives," she said. "One can visit as a photo-op or one can visit to make sure things get done in the right way."


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