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Cuomo again condemns Trump for Puerto Rico recovery efforts

Governor Cuomo's office

Finishing his fifth trip to Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria struck the island last September, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a new agricultural trade agreement – and had some harsh words for President Donald Trump.

Cuomo said through a trade deal that has grown to $1 million, New York apples, cabbages and onions are being shipped to Puerto Rico and the state is getting watermelon, mangoes and pumpkins.

The governor spent a couple of days helping to rebuild some of the 70,000 homes that were destroyed, along with student volunteers from the City and State University systems. And he continued his condemnation of Trump, saying the president has neglected Puerto Rico in the 10 months since the storm.

He said the government of Puerto Rico asked for $94 billion in aid, but so far has received just $5 billion in loans.

“That is disgraceful,” Cuomo said. 

Cuomo said he’s written a letter to the president, asking Trump to revisit the island, saying that he would even accompany the president there. He criticized the president’s visit to the island in 2017, where Trump handed out some supplies.

“Come back to Puerto Rico. Apologize for the mistake, say that you will make it right, provide funding for the reconstruction effort and provide help for the struggling economy. Puerto Rico never needed paper towels, Mr. President,” Cuomo said. “They needed funding assistance to rebuild the economy. People needed roofs on their homes. They needed clean water. They didn't need paper towels. Come back and fix the wrong.”

Cuomo says major damaging storms also hit Texas and Florida last fall, and, unlike Puerto Rico, they got the help from the federal government they needed.

The governor said he plans to increase the number of students who can join the ongoing rebuilding program on the island.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of public radio stations in New York state. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.