Puerto Rico's local politicians reacted angrily on Thursday to President Trump's tweet indicating that federal aid to the island will eventually have to end.
San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, who has been the most outspoken critic of the federal response to Hurricane Maria, criticized the White House in a lengthy statement.
"I ask every American that has love, and not hate in their hearts, to stand with Puerto Rico and let this President know we WILL NOT BE LEFT TO DIE," Cruz wrote.
Mayor Cruz slams Pres. Trump: "I ask every American ... to stand with Puerto Rico and let this President know we WILL NOT BE LEFT TO DIE. " pic.twitter.com/oF2sNzanri— NBC Nightly News (@NBCNightlyNews) October 12, 2017
Trump tweeted Thursday that the federal response to the Sept. 20 storm in Puerto Rico must end at some point, and seemed to indicate that Puerto Rico will need to start helping itself because federal employees and first responders cannot stay on the island "forever."
Former Puerto Rico Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla, called on Republicans, including the resident commissioner, to "immediately and forcefully repudiate Trump's demeaning expressions."
"Someone should explain to @realDonaldTrump the responsibility of Congress in PR's crisis as a result of eliminating section 936 of the IRC," Garcia Padilla tweeted.
Puerto Rico Sen. Eduardo Bhatia retweeted Trump's complaint and said it was an "outrageous comment at the worst time" because the island still needs "urgent help."
"Lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way!" Bhatia tweeted.
Sir, this is an outrageous comment at the worst time. Puerto Rico still needs urgent help.Lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way! https://t.co/TMbivoH4qb— Eduardo Bhatia (@eduardobhatia) October 12, 2017
Local politicians hit back at Trump harder than Gov. Ricardo Rossello, who cautiously defended the U.S. territory's request for congressional funding on Thursday.
"The U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico are requesting the support that any of our fellow citizens would receive across our Nation," Rossello tweeted Thursday morning.
The U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico are requesting the support that any of our fellow citizens would receive across our Nation.— Ricardo Rossello (@ricardorossello) October 12, 2017
Trump has been defending the federal response to Hurricane Maria for weeks now, amid Democratic complaints that not enough was done to help people immediately after the storm. Trump has said several times that Puerto Rico's shoddy infrastructure and $72 billion in debt set up the island territory for a tougher recovery.
Puerto Rico has been recovering from the Category 4 hurricane since it made landfall Sept. 20. Less than one-in-six people had power as of earlier this week and communications around the island are not expected to be fully restored until later this year.