Jeff Pearlman

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The invisible Puerto Rico death toll and the invisible president

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Christian Fuentes is a Puerto Rico native and resident who serves as a social media associate for MLB/Las Mayores. Here, he reacts to Donald Trump’s recent Tweets insisting the island’s death toll is nothing more than a political hoax. You can follow Christian on Twitter here.

It’s been almost a full year since Hurricane María passed by Puerto Rico and left the island in ruins. The wound of that hit has not fully healed. At this time, people are beginning to reminisce about where they were, how they passed the time during and after the storm, and how bad it was.

And on this unfortunate anniversary, Puerto Ricans found out the true colors of the ever-dubious Commander in Grief that is Donald Trump.

By now, you’ve all seen the Tweet that Trump put out where he rejects that 3,000 people died as a result of the hurricane and labeled it as a hoax. For most of the day, I, personally, wasn’t able to find the words to describe how I feel about that. One way to put it, is as a friend of mine said: “I’ve eye-rolled myself into a whole other dimension”. Finally, my prevailing though is just …”How?” How is it possible for a man, even as despicable as Trump is, to disregard ACTUAL LOSS OF LIFE? Everything is “fake” or a “hoax”. TELL THAT TO THE DEAD … and to the living who have to deal with such painful losses of loved ones.

It’s unreal to think that a man who constantly bloviates ad nauseam about “putting the interests of Americans first” and he quickly dismisses the deaths of 3,000 people who were American citizens. It was already bad enough that his visit to the island last year was a laughingstock after he decided to throw paper towel rolls at the crowd. It was also bad enough that he keeps saying that his response to our emergency was “a success,” while downplaying the awful damage that Puerto Rico suffered. Now we have the knowledge that POTUS lives up to his vile bravado by rejecting a mass death toll.

Even worse than Trump making those remarks is anyone who defends it. Whether you agree with his beliefs or not, there is no way a decent person can just brush off 3,000 deaths. This isn’t a political issue. It’s a LIFE issue. It’s a HUMAN issue.

As a Puerto Rican, I’m ashamed and downright embarrassed by how bad the response has been. Trump and the Puerto Rican Government BOTCHED this. It has come to light recently that there were truckloads of food, water, and other necessities that were kept apart from people and never used. People died of hunger. I mean, we even got our Lt. Governor going on CNN and dodging (multiple times) the question of whether he agreed with Trump’s statement of the PR response being successful. Unreal. That’s what Trump wants: for people to kneel before him and take hits for him by showing spineless loyalty.

The people down here are outraged at everything I mentioned. Tough to blame us for it. Puerto Ricans have been able to move on by their own blood, sweat, and tears. There’s a lot of resilience going on down here. No thanks to our Government and no thanks to Donald Trump.

  • Paul C

    I am amazed that The Donald even knew PR was part of the US and Borriquens are US Citizens, even though he didn’t act like it. It’s a fair bet that most of his base doesn’t. Based on his silence regarding Califonia’s devastating fires, it’s a safe bet that he wishes California WASN’T part of the U.S.

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Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

— Seth Davis, author of Wooden: A Coach's Life