The Latest: Trump says he’s ‘best thing’ for Puerto Rico
The Associated Press
July 22, 2019 12:31 PM
Thousands of Puerto Ricans gather for what many are expecting to be one of the biggest protests ever seen in the U.S. territory, with irate islanders pledging to drive Gov. Ricardo Rossello from office, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Monday, July 22, 2019. Protesters are demanding Rossello step down for his involvement in a private chat in which he used profanities to describe an ex-New York City councilwoman and a federal control board overseeing the island’s finance.
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico
The Latest on protests against Puerto Rico’s governor (all times local):
President Donald Trump says he’s “the best thing that ever happened to Puerto Rico” and he’s renewing his attacks on the U.S. territory’s officials on a day when tens of thousands are marching on the island to demand the resignation of Gov. Ricardo Roselló.
Trump didn’t respond directly Monday when asked if Rosselló should step down, but described him as “a terrible governor.”
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He aimed most of his fire at San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, who has frequently derided him and complained about the federal response to 2017’s Hurricane Maria. Trump described her as “a horror show” and “grossly incompetent.”
Trump said Congress has given Puerto Rico billions to recover from the hurricane and complained it’s “in the hands of incompetent people and very corrupt people.”
The president called himself “the best thing that ever happened to Puerto Rico” and added, “We did a great job in Puerto Rico. They don’t like to give me the credit for it, but we did a great job. I have many Puerto Rican friends. I have a real understanding of Puerto Rico.”
Tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans have filled a central highway Monday to demand the resignation of Gov. Ricardo Rosselló in what appeared to be the biggest protest on the island in nearly two decades.
The demonstration come 10 days after the leak of 889 pages of obscenity-laced online chats between Rosselló and some of his close advisers. In the conversations, they insulted women and mocked constituents, including victims of Hurricane Maria.
The leak has intensified long-smoldering anger in the U.S. territory over persistent corruption and mismanagement by the island’s two main political parties, a severe debt crisis, a sickly economy and a slow recovery from Maria, which devastated Puerto Rico in September 2017.
The crowd surged along the American Expressway Monday despite the punishing heat — toddlers, teenagers, professionals and the elderly, all dripping in sweat and smiling as they waved Puerto Rico flags large and small and hoisted signs.