Dozens of autos slowly approached President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida on Saturday afternoon, blasting reggaeton and salsa as they drove by. They honked their horns and waved Puerto Rican flags draped from their automobile home windows and trunks. They had been on their option to a rally just a few miles away to mark the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria.
Regardless of the scorching sizzling solar, tons of of activists confirmed up on the Meyer Amphitheater in West Palm Seaside. Buses filled with protesters got here from so far as Miami and Orlando. The group was energetic. Individuals unfold out on the grass and walked round carrying posters that learn “Respeta Mi Gente” (Respect My Individuals) and “Justice for Puerto Rico.” To 1 aspect of the stage, an enormous blowup balloon of Trump depicted as a child had been inflated. Crowds waited in line to take pictures by which they gave the orange balloon the center finger.
Occasion organizers inspired these in attendance to vote within the midterm elections in November. Anybody with a microphone was always telling folks to vote, to register to vote, and to unfold consciousness about voting.
“We’re honouring the lives that had been misplaced,” stated Marcos Vilar, the president and govt director of Alianza for Progress, one of many occasion organizers. “We’re recognizing all of the those that had been displaced and reside right here in South Florida, central Florida and all through the state.”
Vilar believes that though Puerto Ricans are residents, the present administration’s response to the aftermath of Hurricane Maria has confirmed that Puerto Ricans should not handled equally.
Practically three,000 folks have died on account of Hurricane Maria, in keeping with a research carried out by the Milken Institute Faculty of Public Well being at George Washington College. The president has repeatedly rebuked the dying toll. Final week he tweeted that researchers had inflated the numbers “like magic” saying the quantity was “FIFTY TIMES LAST ORIGINAL NUMBER -NO WAY!”
Trump was not at Mar-a-Lago through the occasion.
Florida Democratic Sen. Invoice Nelson, who was in attendance, referred to as the present scenario in Puerto Rico “inexcusable” and characterised Trump’s feedback as offensive. “How way more insults do (Puerto Ricans) need to take after being handled like they’ve?” he requested.
WATCH: ‘We stand with Puerto Rico’: Donald Trump praises his governments efforts in aftermath of Hurricane Maria
He additionally criticized the Federal Emergency Administration Company’s reduction efforts, saying that their remedy of Puerto Ricans has been “cold-hearted” and that the company should do extra to supply displaced folks with momentary housing help.
Nelson is locked in a decent re-election race with Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who should go away workplace due to time period limits. The massive Puerto Rican vote in Florida is seen as a vital bloc within the state. Scott has visited Puerto Rico quite a few instances for the reason that hurricane.
Dayavet Velez, 17, stated that her residence in Adjuntas, a small municipality tucked away within the mountains of central Puerto Rico, had been destroyed by Hurricane Maria. She and her household have been residing in central Florida for almost a 12 months. “We got here right here as a result of we misplaced every thing there,” she stated.
Velez stated that when Trump visited Puerto Rico, he didn’t see the total devastation that Maria had prompted, he noticed solely a distorted actuality. He didn’t go to the areas that had been most affected by the storm.
Regardless of the hardships she and her household have confronted, the highschool senior stays hopeful.
“We’re not going to be torn down,” she stated. “We’re going to face up for ourselves … we’re going to be sturdy … we’re going to progress right here.”