San Juan mayor in cyclone spotlight after Trump tweets

Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017|1:29 p.m.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico– In Puerto Rico’s hurricane-ravaged capital, Carmen Yulin Cruz is everywhere you go nowadays: handing out bags of ice, learning chest-deep floodwaters, hugging people in need of comfort.

Cruz has actually long won attention throughout the island for her hands-on design of management in San Juan. But today she increased to worldwide prominence as a target of Twitter attacks by U.S. President Donald Trump– including one tweet Sunday calling her and others “politically inspired ingrates.”

The insult came hours after Saturday Night Live represented Cruz in a spoof highlighting the current controversy for the 54-year-old previous human resources executive, who inhabits among Puerto Rico’s most powerful posts and has actually become something of a dissentious figure on the island of 3.4 million locals.

In a U.S. area whose relationship with the mainland is normally the single most popular political concern, Cruz backs independence but is a member of the party that supports keeping the territorial status quo. A graduate of Boston University and Carnegie Mellon, she is likewise a former member of the island’s Legislature.

She initially got headlines in 2012 when she ran versus San Juan’s three-term incumbent mayor, cobbling together a project committee in just three days when her celebration’s initial prospect dropped out. In spite of being a virtual unknown for lots of, she cruised to a surprising win by protecting the support of a union of left-leaning interests from the LGBTQ community to college student to economically powerful unions.

“Imagine what I’ll do when I’m the mayor of San Juan,” she told press reporters in August 2012, 3 months before the vote.

As soon as in workplace Cruz launched a million-dollar city renewal program, renovated public parks and plazas and unionized San Juan workers as assured during her project. She aligned herself with Puerto Rico’s big and long-marginalized Dominican minority. She likewise made bad neighborhoods a priority, working to secure federal funds and improving life for thousands on an island with an almost 45 percent hardship rate.

“Her commitment has actually been through actions, not words, with the impoverished people of San Juan,” political expert Nestor Duprey said, adding that those very same efforts continued after the typhoon.

“She has demonstrated an empathy and commitment to her people that have actually taken her to burn the midnight oil,” Duprey said, “extremely silently at the start.”

That changed Friday when Cruz was inquired about acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke’s remark that the federal reaction to Cyclone Maria was “a good newspaper article.”

Cruz went on tv wearing a black shirt with white letters that check out, “ASSIST US, WE ARE DYING.”

“If anybody out there is paying attention to us, we are passing away and you are killing us with the inadequacy and the bureaucracy,” she said.

The next day Trump required to Twitter to accuse Cruz of “poor management ability” and added, without elaborating, “They desire whatever to be done for them when it ought to be a community effort.”

Neither Cruz nor her spokespeople reacted to requests for comment Sunday. Given that Trump’s tweets she has sought to stress a message of unity for the good of Puerto Rico in her own activity on the social networks platform.

Though telegenic and media-savvy, Cruz has actually been criticized for micromanaging and for using herself down to the point where she loses her voice. She has been hospitalized a few times for asthma.

Critics have actually questioned her management style, noting that some early supporters– consisting of people who occupied essential positions– have resigned or dismissed.

She likewise took heat for providing a job to Puerto Rican self-reliance militant Oscar Lopez Rivera, whose sentence was commuted in January by then-President Barack Obama. Rivera was released from jail in Might after serving 35 years for his involvement with a group that declared more than 100 battles in the 1970s and ’80s that eliminated or incapacitated dozens on the U.S. mainland.

In public looks Cruz has a fondness for hugging individuals and often weeping throughout interviews, triggering some to praise her sincerity while others call her extremely dramatic.

In recent days she has actually preceded news cams repeatedly, provided more emotional pleas for aid and tweeted images of her helping islanders in the cyclone’s aftermath, repeatedly stressing the motto “One goal: conserving lives.”

Hector Ferrer, the president of Cruz’s celebration who had a public falling out with her this year over political differences, stated that while Cruz may be in the media spotlight, there are lots of others working hard to assist Puerto Rico recover.

“I’m going to neighborhoods to hand out water and food– without reporters and without professional photographers,” he said. “There are 78 mayors who are performing wonders with the resources they have. We have to acknowledge everyone’s work.”

However Ferrer said he respected Cruz’s efforts to help Puerto Ricans.

“The mayor runs on a various platform and is able to draw in more attention,” he said, “and I commend her for that.”

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