Trump falsely says Democrats inflated Puerto Rico death toll

Saul Bowman
September 14, 2018

Remember the political damage that President George W. Bush suffered because of his mishandling of Hurricane Katrina in 2005?

There is a lot of blame to go around for the situation that Puerto Rico found itself in before Maria hit. Curbelo said he sees no basis for that claim.

This tweet, apparently, did not sit well with hundreds of Trump supporters, who proceeded to attack Scott for defying President Trump and citing official data.

Earlier this month, the Government Accountability Office released a report that revealed FEMA had been so overwhelmed with storms by the time Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico that more than half of the workers it was deploying to disasters were known to be unqualified for the jobs they were doing in the field.

The 3,000 number is an approximation from a George Washington University study that estimated how many "excess deaths" occurred as a effect of Hurricane Maria, rather than as a result of the normal life cycle on the island. He disavowed Trump's tweet, as did other Republicans in the state, including Rep. Ron DeSantis, who is running to succeed Scott as governor, and Sen. He then went on to accuse Democrats of making up the number so that he would look bad. It added that the study "was carried out with complete independence and freedom from any kind of interference".

Trump bristled at criticism of his administration's handling of the Puerto Rico disaster as Hurricane Florence approached the coast of North Carolina with heavy rains that forecasters warned would cause catastrophic flooding across a wide swath of the US southeast.

As The Washington Post reported on Sept. 29, 2017, the president was initially attentive when Hurricane Maria made landfall on Wednesday, Sept. 20, but not for long: "For four days after that - as storm-ravaged Puerto Rico struggled for food and water amid the darkness of power outages - Trump and his top aides effectively went dark themselves".

His comments came before Trump tweeted Thursday a recent official report putting Puerto Rico's death toll from 2017's Hurricane Maria at almost 3,000, was wrong and "done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible".

The president has not provided any evidence for his claim that Democrats inflated the number and has been criticized on both the right and the left for it.


Cora, who was born in Puerto Rico, took issue with those comments.

Trump's tweets came as the Carolinas braced for Hurricane Florence, which could drench the homes of up to 10 million people.

However Trump implied the death toll was revised for political reasons. Harvard's report, which was based on systematic household surveys throughout Puerto Rico, reached a estimate of 4,645 storm-related deaths between September and December 2017, many as a result of "delayed or interrupted health care".

"Casualties don't make a person look bad, so I have no reason to dispute these numbers", he said Thursday.

Gov. Ricardo Rossello said in a Facebook post in Spanish, "The victims of Puerto Rico, and the people of Puerto Rico in general, do not deserve to be questioned about their pain". "But we will be there, and it's just a matter of time", Cora said.

Estimates of direct deaths in a hurricane typically include those caused by drowning in a storm surge or another event that occurs while the storm is taking place.

It stands on its own as a testament to the horrific circumstances that Hurricane Maria inflicted on the people of Puerto Rico.

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz fired off several tweets targeting Trump after Trump said "3,000 people did not die" and called the death count a move by Democrats to make him look bad.

"Simply put: delusional, paranoid, and unhinged from any sense of reality".

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