In a radio interview on Monday with Fox News’ Geraldo Rivera, President Trump rejected the idea of statehood for Puerto Rico as long as San Juan’s Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz stays in office. Cruz has been a critic of the Trump Administration’s response to Hurricanes Maria and Irma last year.
“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,” Trump said in the interview.
Trump’s remarks imply that he could be open to the idea of statehood for Puerto Rico once there is a change in the island’s leadership. He cited the mayor’s poor and inefficient allocation of resources post-Maria as evidence of the island’s incompetent leadership.
“[When] you have good leadership,” Trump explained, statehood for Puerto Rico could be “something they talk about.”
He added, however, that “[w]ith people like that involved in Puerto Rico, I would be an absolute no” to statehood.
Statehood advocate Gov. Ricardo Rossello has criticized Trump’s comments suggesting that they had belittled statehood efforts because of political differences and disrespected over 3 million Americans living on the island.
In response to Trump’s sentiments toward statehood, San Juan mayor claimed his administration will look for any excuse to avoid responsibility for its negligent hurricane recovery efforts last year.
Puerto Rican Resident Commissioner Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon,(R-PR) responded to President Trump’s statement in a tweet reading, “Equality 4 Puerto Ricans shouldn’t be held up by one bad mayor who’s leaving office in 2020 & do not represent the people who voted twice for statehood.”
The Republican Party’s 2016 platform and politicians in Florida, such as Gov. Rick Scott (R), Sen. Bill Nelson (D) and Rep. Ron DeSantis (R), have declared support for Puerto Rican statehood.
Bipartisan legislation to admit Puerto Rico into the Union was introduced in June, but its fate remains doubtful as the current congressional session comes to a close.