Donald Trump has attacked Puerto Ricans who “want everything done for them”, as the US Government intervenes to help the American territority’s people after Hurricane Maria.
The Category Five hurricane knocked out power, cut off running water and killed at least 16 people so far on the island, home to 3.4 million Americans, when it struck a week ago. It also damaged a dam that created the risk of flash flooding.
Its officials have accused Washington of not moving fast enough to help them, as the island tries to recover from the damage, including the loss of most of the electrical, gas and water grid.
Carmen Yulin Cruz, mayor of Puerto Rico’s largest city San Juan, condemned the slow response, tearfully telling journalists on Friday that, if it did not speed up, “what we we are going to see is something close to a genocide”.
Trump went on Twitter on Saturday and, in an increasingly familiar theme, first emphasised how means his critics are, saying Cruz was “very complimentary only a few days ago” but “has now been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump.”
He accused Cruz and unnamed others of “such poor leadership” saying they could not “get their workers to help” and “want everything to be done for them”.
He praised the “fantastic job” of the US Government workers.
“Puerto Rico was totally destroyed,” Trump said of the island whose leaders he had just attacked.
Trump and the First Lady Melania Trump will visit Puerto Rico on Tuesday and possibly the US Virgin Islands, which were hit by Hurricane Irma.
Trump later returned to his favourite subject - berating the “fake news” media and how it was covering Puerto Rico.
The response to Trump’s attack on Cruz and others was withering, with one person asking: “Why attack the mayor of a city devastated by a hurricane?”
He was branded a “disgrace to disgraces” and “cruel and inhuman”.
Trump previously made headlines when he described the logistical difficulties of helping Puerto Rico by saying it was “an island, surrounded by water, big water, ocean water”.
He has also claimed that the island’s governor Ricardo Rossello has praised the Trump administration’s response.
But Rossello later told MSNBC: “The response still is not where it needs to be, certainly it’s not.”