Trump: No statehood for Puerto Rico with critics in office




 

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Donald Trump on Monday declared himself an "absolute no" on statehood for Puerto Rico as long as critics such as San Juan's mayor remain in office, the latest broadside in his feud with members of the U.S. territory's leadership.

Trump lobbed fresh broadsides at San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, a critic of his administration's response to hurricanes on the island last year, during a radio interview with Fox News' Geraldo Rivera that aired Monday.

"With the mayor of San Juan as bad as she is and as incompetent as she is, Puerto Rico shouldn't be talking about statehood until they get some people that really know what they're doing," Trump said in an interview with Rivera's show on Cleveland's WTAM radio.

Trump said that when "you have good leadership," statehood for Puerto Rico could be "something they talk about. With people like that involved in Puerto Rico, I would be an absolute no."

Gov. Ricardo Rossello, an advocate of statehood for the island, said Trump's remarks had trivialized the statehood process because of political differences.

"The president said he is not in favor of statehood for the people of Puerto Rico based on a personal feud with a local mayor. This is an insensitive, disrespectful comment to over 3 million Americans who live in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico," Rossello said.

He also questioned how the president of the United States could be at the U.N. General Assembly promoting democracy around the world while "in his own home there is the oldest and most populated colonial system in the world."

The San Juan mayor dismissed Trump's comments about statehood in an Associated Press interview, calling it just another effort to avoid responsibility for his administration's "negligence" in its widely criticized response to last year's Hurricane Maria. "He looks for any excuse to divert attention," she said.

Cruz called it a "great honor" to be singled out by Trump. "It highlights that he knows that while he was playing golf at Mar-a-Lago, I was up to my waist in water and human waste," during the storm.

Jenniffer Gonzalez, Puerto Rico's non-voting representative in Congress, tweeted: "Equality 4 Puerto Ricans shouldn't be held up by one bad mayor who's leaving office in 2020 & do not represent the people who voted twice for statehood."

Trump's position on statehood for the island puts him at odds with the Republican Party's 2016 platform during its national convention, in which it declared support for Puerto Rican statehood.

The president's remarks followed his claims earlier this month that the official death toll from last year's devastating storm in Puerto Rico was inflated. Public health experts have estimated that nearly 3,000 people died in 2017 because of the effects of Hurricane Maria.

But Trump falsely accused Democrats of inflating the Puerto Rican death toll to make him "look as bad as possible."

Trump's pronouncements have roiled politics in Florida, which has crucial races for governor and U.S. Senate. The state was already home to more than 1 million Puerto Ricans before Hurricane Maria slammed into the island a year ago. Tens of thousands of residents fled Puerto Rico in the aftermath, with many of them relocating to Florida.

The issue of statehood for Puerto Rico - or some form of semi-autonomous relationship - has divided island residents in recent years. The debate over the island's "status" is the central feature of its politics and divides its major political parties.

The federal government has said previously it would accept a change in the status of Puerto Rico if the people of the island clearly supported the decision. But for decades, Puerto Ricans have been divided between those who favor statehood and those who want to maintain the commonwealth, perhaps with some changes. A small minority continue to favor independence.

The last referendum, in 2017, strongly supported statehood but opponents questioned the validity of the vote because of low turnout.

Any changes would need to be approved by Congress. Statehood legislation, with support from Republicans and Democrats, was introduced in June but appears unlikely to gain momentum as politicians remain hesitant to take up such a thorny issue.

___

Associated Press writer Maricarmen Rivera in San Juan, Puerto Rico, contributed.

___

On Twitter follow Ken Thomas at https://twitter.com/KThomasDC

COMMENTS

More Related News

Trump says would intervene in arrest of Chinese executive
Trump says would intervene in arrest of Chinese executive

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he would intervene with the U.S. Justice Department in the case against a Chinese telecommunications executive if it would help secure a trade deal with Beijing. "If I think it's good for the country, if I think it's good for what will be certainly the

California judge orders porn star to pay Trump legal fees
California judge orders porn star to pay Trump legal fees

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Porn star Stormy Daniels must pay President Donald Trump nearly $293,000 for his attorneys' fees and another $1,000 in sanctions after her defamation suit against him was dismissed, a federal judge in Los Angeles ordered Tuesday.

Flynn to make arguments against prison time in Russia probe
Flynn to make arguments against prison time in Russia probe

WASHINGTON (AP) - Lawyers for Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump's former national security adviser, are poised to ask a judge to spare him prison time in a sentencing memorandum due by the end of Tuesday.

'The Guardians' For Truth Named Time Magazine's 2018 Person Of The Year
'The Guardians' For Truth Named Time Magazine's 2018 Person Of The Year

Time magazine on Tuesday announced a group of journalists it called "The

Republicans beginning to worry about Trump re-election
Republicans beginning to worry about Trump re-election

President Donald Trump's intensifying legal troubles are unnerving some of his fellow Republicans. Trump, ever confident of his ability to bend story lines to his will, mocks the investigations into his conduct as candidate and president as a "witch hunt" and insists he will survive the

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: Latin America

facebook
Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.