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San Juan Mayor Invited To Conference Call — Not Allowed To Speak

Homeland Security Advisor Tom Bossert invited Mayor Carmin Yulin Cruz to participate in a White House conference call that was intended to work improving the federal response to the needs of Puerto Rico’s emergency following the devastation of the island by Hurricane Maria on September 20. But there was a catch…

The San Juan mayor, who has been instrumental in bringing attention to the plight of people in Puerto Rico and the level of assistance they need, was told she couldn’t actually communicate during the call — she could only listen.

I was invited to participate in a conference via a text. I did. When I went into the call it said you are allowed in a listening capacity only…so I listened.

President Donald Trump is scheduled to be in Puerto Rico for a tour of the ravaged island today. You would think he would want to actually meet with people on the island that have been in the thick of the recovery efforts and have been doing everything they could to provide food, water, and medical assistance to the people. Apparently Mayor Cruz wasn’t on his list of preferred people to meet.

Hours before he is supposed to arrive on the island, Mayor Cruz had no idea what his itinerary is or if she is even going to allowed to meet with him. While giving The Independent a tour of their primary distribution hub, a re-purposed sports arena, she relayed:

I read in tweet that someone said I got an invitation to see him. I haven’t.

Mayor Cruz has made it no secret that her people need help. She has begged the United States to take a larger role in helping them get supplies to the more remote areas of the island. Some of those areas are still inaccessible two weeks after the storm. Army personnel are making headway, but it is a slow progression due to the sheer level of damage to the island’s infrastructure. In some areas, whole roadways are washed away or debris is blocking the way and must be manually cleared due to lack of heavy equipment, fuel shortages, and lack of manpower.

At a White House press conference, Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters:

Our focus is to bring the mayor into the coordination efforts. This administration, as well as other members on the ground, have reached out to her. We hope that she will join with us in those efforts and be a part of things. She’s been invited to participate in the events tomorrow, as well.  And we hope that those conversations will happen and we can all work together to move forward.

Meanwhile, the mayor is sleeping in cramped quarters at the arena (she lost her house in the storm too), helping her people by turning the arena into a food distribution center. Some of the food provisions were supplied by FEMA, but each box only included one “adult” meal, applesauce, and Rice Krispie bars. They also contain a postcard emblazoned with a flag that says:

These Meals are Sent to You by Your Fellow Americans. May they Provide Comfort and Nourishment. Be Safe and Know You are in our Thoughts.

Cruz expects to be over-seeing relief efforts for monger than three months. If applesauce and Rice Krispie bars are the best FEMA is willing to do, those people will have a harder road ahead of them. It doesn’t sound like the White House’s idea of inclusiveness includes giving Mayor Cruz a voice in the operations.

Featured image from Twitter