US President shifts on Puerto Rico, releases USD 13 billion aid as election nears

Vastavam web: US president Trump announced the release Friday of USD 13 billion in assistance to repair years-old hurricane damage in Puerto Rico and pledged to restore its economy, setting aside his past bitter treatment of the island and its leaders as he courts Puerto Rican voters in the US, particularly in the crucial swing state of Florida. Trump has spent much of his administration blasting Puerto Rican officials as corrupt and inept, and he has opposed spending to rebuild a power grid and other infrastructure that was wiped out by the Hurricane Maria in September 2017.

But there are more people of Puerto Rican descent on the mainland than on the island, and they could play a key role in the November 3 vote. Former Vice President Joe Biden has also sought support from Puerto Ricans, recently releasing a recovery plan for the territory and visiting central Florida. The hurricane slammed into the island with winds of 155 mph, causing an estimated USD 100 billion in damage and killing nearly 3,000 people, according to an official death toll that Trump has said was exaggerated to make him look bad.

The grant announced Friday includes nearly USD 10 billion to rebuild an electrical grid that was wiped out by the storm and resulted in the longest blackout in US history. Asked why the aid was coming now, less than 50 days before the election, Trump insisted his administration had been working on getting it done but it was held up by Democrats in Congress. In fact, they approved the funding and pushed for its release. The Trump Administration delayed, dragged its feet and resisted allocating these badly needed funds, said Vel zquez, who was born in Puerto Rico. Now, forty-six days before the election, the administration has finally seen fit to release these funds.

Source: PTI