“You can kill people with a bomb and you can kill them with neglect,” San Juan mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz told Marie Claire in an impassioned interview published on Wednesday. “And what happened in Puerto Rico is that people were left to die because the government was unable to look at reality, admit what was taking place, and take a different route to make this turn out a different way.”
It has been almost a year since Hurricane Maria tore through Puerto Rico, devastating its infrastructure, wiping out its communications, and killing countless of its people. The exact number of lives lost has been in question. Initially, the Puerto Rican government said just 64 people had died as a result of the storm, but after several studies found much, much higher estimates — one Harvard study put the number over 4,600 — the government raised the official death toll to 2,975 on Tuesday.
To Cruz, who has been repeatedly attacked on Twitter by President Trump, many of these deaths could have been prevented were it not for the administration’s lackluster response.
“A couple of weeks after Hurricane Maria hit, I yelled to the world: ‘We are dying here! And they are killing us with their bureaucracy and their inefficiency!’” she told Marie Claire. “It was evident when you walked the streets, when you tended to the sick, the neglect that followed: The Trump administration’s way of handling the Puerto Rican humanitarian crisis, the lack of a sense of urgency, the lack of respect for human dignity.”
Cruz also pointed out that Trump, who spends so much time Twitter, has not tweeted about Puerto Rico since October 2017.
“The President is not involved; our lives, are not on the radar for him,” she said.
Read Cruz’s full interview here.