[OP-ED]: Trump’s Visit to Puerto Rico: A Bull in a China Shop
An enlightened ruler he is not, although president Trump firmly believes he is God’s gift to the world. Then again, we already knew that, which is why the fact that his visit to Puerto Rico on Tuesday was an unmitigated disaster was not a surprise.
By now everybody knows the occupant of the White House --who secretary of state Ray Tillerson has called a moron-- is an uncouth, insensitive, racist individual who despises women, gays, blacks and Latinos. And Spanish-speaking, suspiciously dark-skinned Puerto Ricans, although U.S. citizens by birth since 1918, are no different from other Latino immigrants for Trump and his cohort of bigots and money grabbers.
Yet, one has to give Trump some credit: It’s not easy to offend everybody in just five hours, the length of time he spent in the storm ravaged island. From implying that the loss of 34 lives and the terrible destruction left by hurricane Maria was not “a real catastrophe like Katrina,” complaining about Puerto Rico “throwing our budget out of whack,” to bizarrely tossing rolls of paper towel to people gathered in a church in Guaynabo, Trump behaved like the proverbial bull in a china shop.
“The entire situation of Puerto Rico, distilled in one photo-op: The condescending attitude of the rulers; the compliance of the colonized; the theatrics; the insult on top of the injury; the giddy, star-struck vassals. Yep. All still there.”
That was the reaction of Karina Casiano, a talented Puerto Rican theatre actress and director to the infamous paper towel tossing by Trump in Puerto Rico on Tuesday, and the shameful acceptance, and even celebration, of such insulting theatrics not only by the people gathered at the church, but by Gov. “Ricky” Roselló himself. Watching the governor of Puerto Rico’s wan smiles every time the dismissive colonial master patted him as if he were a docile dog, was perhaps the most humiliating part of Trump’s insulting performance.
Yet, a tireless self-promoter, Trump declared his administration’s response to the crisis “a miracle.”
“The job that’s been done here is really nothing short of a miracle,” he told reporters about the recovery, although while he was making his grandiose statement power was down for 95% of customers, less than half of Puerto Ricans had running water, and there was a shortage of food and supplies affecting even hospitals.
Displaying an appalling lack of empathy and concern for the tragedy affecting Puerto Ricans, a smiling Trump told reporters the visit was “really nice. It was a great visit.”
Demeaning, insulting, imperial-like as Trump’s attitude was, the real problem for Puerto Rico goes beyond him and the group of rabid bigots he has surrounded himself with. No matter if you call it a commonwealth or a estado libre asociado, a colony by any other name is still a colony. And as long as Puerto Rico is not an independent nation, its people will remain second class citizens, to be used as cannon fodder and captive consumers by the colonizers – and little more.
As has become crystal clear after hurricanes Irma and Maria killed at least 34 people and dealt a terrible blow to the island’s already moribund economy, in times of disaster there is only condescension from the masters and blame and exploitation for the colony.
After all is said and done, independence is the only future for beautiful Borinquen.