During his State of the Union address, President Donald Trump reaffirmed the United States' dedication to Puerto Rico, saying to those still recovering in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria "we are with you, we love you, and we will pull through together."
But those words - simultaneously offered to Texas, Florida, Louisiana, the Virgin Islands, California, and "everywhere else" - struck many as hollow, considering the recent announcement by the Federal Emergency Management Agency that food and water assistance to the island would be "cut off" January 31.
About 35 percent of people there remain without power four months after Hurricane Maria left the island in ruins.
“A third of Puerto Rico still lacks electricity. Many do not have running water. But FEMA will ‘officially shut off’ tomorrow,” wrote activist Erin Schrode on Facebook Tuesday. Schrode is COO of World Central Kitchen, who is leading the #ChefsForPuertoRico project with chef José Andrés to distribute millions of meals on the island.
Shrode said there is great disparity between Trump's show of solidarity and “the startling, unimaginable reality here for millions of Americans over 4 months after Maria.”
“I am here on the island. Our team traverses its 78 municipalities daily. The post-hurricane emergency is still all too real for large segments of the population, where the majority of multiple regions remain without power and below the poverty line.”
The superficial call out to Puerto Rico was noted by numerous media outlets and advocates, all questioning how the president could gloss over the situation that is ongoing and improving more slowly than states also hit with catastrophe last year.
The president didn't signal how dire the situation is that more than 3 million US citizens are living through in Puerto Rico. The island — a US territory since 1848 — is worse off than any other place in the United States.
It's true that Puerto Rico was already in bad shape when the hurricane hit in September. But the federal government's slow response to the disaster didn't help. In fact, the reaction from the White House was one of the ugliest moments of Trump's administration so far.
It's not surprising that Trump didn't want to revisit that.
Following the address, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz told the New York Post she believes that Trump has abandoned the island.
“When it comes to Puerto Rico, we’re not even on his radar,” Cruz told The Post.