President Donald Trump has been criticised as “insensitive” and “disrespectful” after saying he does not support the idea of recognising Puerto Rico as a US state because the mayor of San Juan is “incompetent”.
The president made the comments on Monday, suggesting he would not support the idea of Puerto Rican statehood as long as Carmen Yulín Cruz, the mayor of its capital and largest city, remained in office.
“With the mayor of San Juan as bad as she is and as incompetent as she is, Puerto Rico shouldn’t be talking about statehood until they get some people that really know what they’re doing,” Mr Trump said in an interview with Geraldo Rivera.
The comment is the latest in a long feud between Mr Trump and Ms Yulín Cruz in which the two have criticised one another over issues such as the federal response in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria devastated the island.
In response, Ms Yulín Cruz wrote the following on Twitter: “Trump once again accuses me of telling the truth. Now he says statehood won't arrive because of me."
Mr Trump’s opinion also drew criticism from Puerto Rico’s governor, Ricardo Rosselló , who defended Ms Yulín Cruz.
“The president said he is not in favour of statehood for the people of Puerto Rico based on a personal feud with a local mayor. This is an insensitive, disrespectful comment to over 3m Americans who live in the US territory of Puerto Rico,” Mr Rosselló said in a statement.
Mr Roselló, who had previously avoided publicly butting heads with Mr Trump, continued on to criticise the US and Mr Trump over the lack of statehood for Puerto Rico, especially in light of Mr Trump’s trip to the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
“How can the United States make the case for democracy at the United Nations this week, when they have under their flag the most populous colony in the world? I urge all political leaders in the nation to define their views towards our quest for equal treatment for the US citizens in Puerto Rico,” he continued.
Mr Roselló and Mr Trump publicly disagreed just last week about the impact of Hurricane Maria, after the president suggested that the death toll was much lower than estimates have suggested. Mr Roselló pointed to a study conducted by George Washington University, which determined that 2,975 people died as a result of that storm.
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