GOP tries to silence San Juan mayor by hastily canceling hearing on Puerto Rico death count


San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz was scheduled to give public testimony in Washington on the Trump administration's handling of Hurricane Maria. But the GOP abruptly canceled the hearing, with no explanation and no mention of rescheduling.

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz arrived in Washington, D.C., to give public testimony at a hearing on the federal government's responses to recent natural disasters, including Hurricane Maria, which devastated Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

But Republicans on the House Committee on Homeland Security abruptly scrubbed the event, gave no explanation for the last-minute maneuver, and did not announce a rescheduled date.

Cruz has been one of Donald Trump’s fiercest critics following his administration’s slow-motion, disastrous, and callously neglectful response to Hurricane Maria. In return, Trump and the right wing have treated her and the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico abominably.


The hasty cancellation comes as questions mount about the rebuilding effort for 3 million American citizens. Specifically, controversy swirls around the post-storm death toll, which might actually be near 1,000 causalities — not several dozen, as the Trump administration claims.

Also sure to come up at a hearing would be pointed questions about the no-bid contract that was awarded Whitefish Energy to help restore power to the island — a tiny firm linked to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. The dubious contract has since been canceled.

After being told the hearing was canceled, Cruz asked pointedly of Republicans, "I'm just wondering, what are they afraid of?"

Democratic members of Congress were also furious with the cancelation.

"It is inexcusable that the Republicans have delayed this hearing for the third time with no rational reason in a blatant attempt to silence the Mayor and shield the Trump Administration from another bad news story," said Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, ranking member of the House Committee on Homeland Security.

"It is clear that House Republicans and the Administration fear the Mayor and her telling her story," he added.

And New York Rep. Nydia Velazquez declared it was "shameful" that the GOP would cancel the hearing "to protect [Trump and FEMA] from criticism."

The hearing was intended to get answers from FEMA Administrator Brock Long about the federal government's response and recovery efforts for numerous recent natural disasters, including hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, as well as the wildfires in California and other parts of the West.

Long himself has recently echoed the administration’s lack of respect toward the San Juan leader: "We filtered out the mayor a long time ago," he announced, adding that they "don’t have time for the political noise."

And the White House's disdain for Cruz has been readily apparent.

"I think that it is sad that the mayor of San Juan chose to make that a political statement instead of a time of focusing on the relief efforts," White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said earlier this month, after Cruz besseched Trump to help the island.

Meanwhile, the island of American citizens staggers under the weight of the storm and the criminally negligent response from the Trump administration.

"Puerto Rico remains without an effective emergency response more than a month after Hurricane Maria devastated the island," a group of United Nations human rights experts warned this week.

"We can’t fail to note the dissimilar urgency and priority given to the emergency response in Puerto Rico, compared to the US states affected by hurricanes in recent months," they stressed.

Apparently, Republicans in Congress are incapable of feeling either empathy or shame in regard to the suffering in Puerto Rico, and are perfectly willing to turn their backs on a woman doing everything she can to save the lives of her people.