Puerto Rican UAB student calls President’s comparisons and budget comments inappropriate


For people from the island of Puerto Rico who live stateside, they say the President isn’t sending the right message.

In fact , one UAB student believed what President Trump said impacted how people view the catastrophe. He grew up in Alabama, but doesn’t think people see Puerto Rico on equal ground. Angel Cartagena said many see him as an immigrant, not an American Citizen. He explained the president can’t dismiss any tragedy no matter the scale.

It’s been nearly two weeks since Hurricane Maria tore through Puerto Rico. It left behind devastation, millions of people without electricity and has officially killed more than 30 people. But some from the United States island in Birmingham felt those words from the President about what the federal government has spent on the commonwealth to be a lack of care. On Tuesday while on a visit to Puerto Rico the President Trump said, “I hate to tell you Puerto Rico but you’ve thrown our budget a little out of wack.”

Cartagena expressed some discontent over what the leader of the country said. Cartagena told ABC 33/40, “It’s not what we want to hear, it’s not the appropriate thing to say.”

Cartagena left Puerto Rico for Alabama 12 years ago. Now he’s a student at UAB with much of his family still there. “We’re humans, we’re people, we need help,” explained Cartagena.

Something San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz has been emphasizing long before and moving forward after shaking hands with President Trump. The Mayor said candidly, “I would hope that the President of the United States stops spouting out comments that really hurt the people of Puerto Rico because rather than Commander-in-Chief, sort of becomes Mis-communicator in Chief.”

Cartagena again expressed his wish that people who live in the upper 48 can understand that he too is a part of the country. “It will make people not care about us when we are still part of the United States,” Cartagena said.

Cartagena believed comparing death totals between his home and Hurricane Katrina makes people on the mainland see Puerto Rico as a third world country. “It’s not like we want everything to be solved, we need help, we need food, we need other things out there,” said Cartagena. Cartagena said the crisis must be thought of in the same as the natural disasters in Texas and Florida. “Like if it was happening in another city like it is in Houston, just think of it like that,” he said.

The President will be in Las Vegas on Wednesday.