Trump disputes Hurricane Maria death toll in Puerto Rico

Nicholas Kamm  AFP  Getty Images

Nicholas Kamm AFP Getty Images

On Thursday morning, President Donald Trump suggested, via Twitter, that Democrats had inflated the death toll in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria in 2017. As time went by it did not go up by much.

This is not the first time Trump has tried to downplay the catastrophic hurricane, during his visit to the island soon after Maria hit, Trump said Puerto Ricans should be thankful it wasn't a "real catastrophe" like Hurricane Katrina.

But Trump has continued to praise his own government's response to the disaster in Puerto Rico. Infrastructure failures and political confusion appear to have contributed to deaths even months after the storm hit, as GW's study found a lasting spike in mortality rates, especially in poor areas that proved harder to reach in the aftermath of the storm.

"To be tweeting about 3,000 people and be efficient, it's actually disrespectful for my country", said Cora, a former player from Caguas, about 20 miles south of San Juan. The loss of any life is tragic; the extent of lives lost as a result of Maria is heart wrenching. Then, a few weeks ago, a study from George Washington University revised that number to 2,975.

Trump's tweet came a day after he praised his administration's response to the storm, and bashed Mayor Cruz for allegedly sabotaging the relief effort to score political points against him.

When Trump was criticized for his lackadaisical response, he added insult to injury by blasting the mayor of San Juan for "poor leadership ability". While Cora acknowledged the government helped Puerto Rico, he questioned whether it did enough.

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) slammed Trump, saying it's shameful that he would try to make the deaths of almost 3,000 American citizens into "a story about himself and his political fortunes". But that toll should have at least another 1,000 added to it because that's the number of people who died due to debris exposure. A USA territory since 1898, Puerto Rico's inhabitants are citizens, though they can not vote in presidential elections and have only one congressional representative with limited voting powers.

Especially upset were GOP politicians in Florida, a state with a substantial Puerto Rican population.

Yulín Cruz later called Trump 'delusional, paranoid, and unhinged from any sense of reality'. The revision was based on the findings of a George Washington University study.

In January, Cora led a Red Sox delegation to Puerto Rico to distribute aid.

Puerto Rico's government, which is neither Republican nor Democratic, but run by the New Progressive party, a pro-statehood, Puerto Rico-only party, accepted the 2,975 number as a legitimate estimate of the storm's true toll.

Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora wasn't a big fan of President Donald Trump's comments Thursday about Puerto Rico. A range of other studies have placed the death toll estimate anywhere between 500 and 6,000.

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