San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz said Tuesday President Trump's remarks about Puerto Rico throwing the U.S. budget out of whack "goes to prove the lack of sensibility" displayed by the president.
"When I heard him say, and I quote, 'Puerto Rico, you have thrown our budget out of whack for all the money we have spent here,' that doesn't make you feel good," Cruz told CNN. "And again, this is about two things. It's about respect for the Puerto Rican people and it's about saving lives."
Cruz, who has engaged in a public spat with Trump over his handling of Puerto Rico's recovery effort in the wake of Hurricane Maria, also slammed critics who judged "human crises by the number of people who die instantly." That doesn't convey how "people are dying on a continuum" without access to everyday healthcare, she said.
Cruz added the most productive interaction with the White House was a second meeting without Trump in which the five mayors present were able to lobby administration officials like Office of Management and Budget staff to return the $350 million taken away from the island's cities to pay back the island's debt.
Adapting relief strategies to the reality of the situation on the ground was another recommendation offered; for example, lack of connectivity has meant residents cannot register for aid over the telephone.
Cruz said she hoped the president would act on the mayors' suggestions.
"I think his staff understands now and they have all the data they need," she said. "But I would hope that the president of the United States stops spouting out comments that really hurt the people of Puerto Rico because rather than commander-in-chief, he sort of becomes miscommunicator-in-chief."