Just two weeks after the worst natural disaster slammed Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, another hurricane blasted through Puerto Rico. In what will be remembered as the oddest presidential visit to Puerto Rico, Donald Trump came to Puerto Rico acting like a rock star, and as usual, Trump was Trump at a time where millions of U.S. citizens residents of the island expected some measure of solidarity and concrete tangible help.
There was no firm commitment of help, publicly at least. All Puerto Ricans got since Trump landed at Muñiz Air Base in San Juan were jokes and the actions of a man who acts more like an egotistical celebrity than the head of the most powerful nation in the world.
Trump told Puerto Ricans on a brief press conference at Muñiz Air Base that Puerto Rico was costing the United States money. To be clear he actually said: “I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you are throwing our budget a little out of whack because we’ve spent a lot of money on Puerto Rico”. Instead of just doing a more comprehensive flyover of the island’s heavily affected areas, which the government of Puerto Rico wanted him to do, Trump and the White House decided to visit a middle-class neighborhood in Guaynabo, one of the island’s richest municipalities.
Afterwards he headed over to Calvary Chapel, nearby the Puerto Rico Sports Museum and Guaynabo Plaza to give out aid to people whom were bused over from shelters. The Chapel was opened specifically for this event, as it had been closed since Hurricane María affected the island territory. Calvary Chapel is one of the four churches who offer English-language services in Guaynabo, and half of these, like Second Union Church and Calvary, are attended mainly by mainlanders who reside on the island.
In what looked more like a campaign rally or a rock concert in Calvary Chapel, Trump began tossing rolls of paper towels to people. Jimmy Kimmel made it part of this Tuesday night monologue.
Of course, the local state government just smiled and waved. They did not openly criticize the president. Both governor Ricardo Rosselló (D) and resident commissioner Jennifer González (R) understand they need to stroke the man’s ego and praise him to make sure he comes through with what little promises he has made. La Fortaleza had to explain that it was the White House who chose the locations and the events.
While in the mainland, specifically in Congress, the topic of discussion is whether or not to award Puerto Rico a Marshall Plan recovery package, Trump was jokingly complaining that Puerto Rico was breaking the federal budget. While elderly residents in heavily affected areas like Toa Baja have to deal with losing their roofs —having no food or water— Donald Trump behaves like a rock star, instead of behaving presidential.
While in Congress there is bipartisan support to help Puerto Rico, Trump acts like a king, instead of a servant of the People, by the People, for the People.
But then again, Donald Trump is Donald Trump, and to expect him to act in any other way is just a pipe dream.
Edwin Jusino tweets from @erjusinoa.