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By Mark Sumner
On Monday evening, Donald Trump finally got around to mentioning Puerto Rico for the first time since Hurricane Maria finished passing over the island. And what he delivered was a level of cruelty usually reserved for four-year-olds holding a magnifying glass above ants.
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Texas & Florida are doing great but Puerto Rico, which was already suffering from broken infrastructure & massive debt, is in deep trouble..
Trump followed this initial tweet with a couple of followups. They did not make things better.
"It's old electrical grid, which was in terrible shape, was devastated. Much of the island was destroyed, with billions of dollars owed to Wall Street and the banks which, sadly, must be dealt with. Food, water, and medical are top priorities -- and doing well. #FEMA"
Donald Trump finally deigned to notice three and a half million Americans in Puerto Rico. Americans without power, without shelter, and -- despite Trump's afterthought -- without clean water, without adequate food or medical care. Americans living in the shattered ruins of their homes unable to even communicate with loved ones to let them know they're still alive. And he blamed them.
"It took Donald Trump five full days to respond to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria on the lives of 3.5 million Americans in Puerto Rico, and when he finally did so his comments on Twitter were so devoid of empathy it threatened to spark a new controversy."
It was the first comment Trump has made on Puerto Rico since hours before Maria made landfall as a category four hurricane pummelling the island and destroying its entire power network with winds of up to 155mph (250km/h). On that occasion he told the people of Puerto Rico: "We are with you."
But for many Puerto Ricans the reality five days after the hurricane struck is that the US president has not been with them.