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  • A view of the US and Puerto Rican flag at the port of San Juan

    A view of the US and Puerto Rican flag at the port of San Juan | Photo: EFE

Published 8 May 2019

"President Trump is willing to sacrifice a large amount of disaster aid to promote his personal vendetta against Puerto Rico," said Democrat Darren Soto.

Democratic lawmakers from the United States claimed Wednesday that President Donald Trump holds a “personal vendetta against Puerto Rico” which has left disaster relief for the territory in limbo, as well as for that of Florida after being struck by Hurricane Michael last October.

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In a conference call, congressmen Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Darren Soto decried the devasting conditions continuing to affect northwest Florida, hours before the president's visit to the area battered by the cyclone.

The lawmakers said that it was been seven months now since the powerful Category 5 Hurricane Michael swept through the Florida Panhandle.

"President Trump is willing to sacrifice a large amount of disaster aid to promote his personal vendetta against Puerto Rico," said Democrat Darren Soto.

The Republican president, who is planning a political rally in Panama City, Florida Wednesday, is visiting the Tyndall Air Force base, one of the buildings that suffered the most impact from the hurricane, which caused a total of 16 confirmed deaths in the country and damages worth US$25 billion dollars, the majority of it in Florida.

"The conclusion here is that the Florida Panhandle does not need a political rally," said Wasserman Schultz.

Both congressmen from Florida urged the Senate, currently controlled by a Republican majority and President Trump, to expedite the approval of additional resources for the area where collecting debris is still an urgent matter.

Samantha Herring, a member of the Walton County Democratic State Committee in the Panhandle area, questioned the "negligence" of the Trump administration saying that there are still downed trees on homes and an urgent need for housing.

Soto said that since last February the House of Representatives, controlled by a Democratic majority since the midterm elections, presented an aid package of US$14 billion dollars for disaster recovery and relief from natural disasters that include hurricanes, floods, and wildfires around the country

The congressman was frustrated that no additional disaster relief bill has advanced "as the Panhandle gets worse every time" and there is constant "inability to rebuild in any respect" on this "forgotten coast."

Soto said it is a "Trump lie" that Puerto Rico has received US$91 billion in aid, noting that US$31 billion has been awarded, of which only US$11 billion has been delivered so far since the government has insisted on getting detailed reports before any funds are disbursed.

Wasserman Schultz, who criticized the delays in the appropriation of federal resources, said Tyndall's air base "was absolutely crushed."

Both congressmen urged the president to help not only Florida but Puerto Rico, affected by hurricanes Irma and Maria, the latter which caused the death of 2,975 people and plunged the U.S. territory into darkness for six months due to the monumental damage on its power grid.

Since the passage of Maria, President Trump has been very critical of the island's politicians in their reconstruction efforts and has refused to accept the official number of deaths, while the island's leadership has criticized him for treating them like "citizens second class."

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