There has been a great deal of political consternation and talking points about U.S. aid, or the lack thereof, delivered to Puerto Rico. Indeed, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz Soto has been a favorite of Democrats and liberal U.S. media as a spokesperson for claims the U.S. has not done enough for the island’s people.
However, a disturbing video shows Puerto Rico’s Secretary of State showing boxes and boxes of food, water and supplies being discarded by Puerto Rican officials in dumpsters, obviously not reaching the intended residents.
The FBI had previously opened an investigation into the level of fraud and corruption within Puerto Rico’s municipal authorities and reports of widespread theft of U.S. aid by officials of the local governments. This report on FEMA aid being corrupted by these same officials does not come as a surprise; indeed, unfortunately, it is the norm – not the exception.
(Puerto Rico) FBI agents in Puerto Rico have been receiving calls from “across the island” with residents complaining local officials are “withholding” or “mishandling” critical FEMA supplies — with one island official even accused of stuffing his own car full of goods meant for the suffering populace.
The accusations come in the aftermath of deadly Hurricane Maria, which devastated the U.S. territory last month.
“The complaints we’re hearing is that mayors of local municipalities, or people associated with their offices, are giving their political supporters special treatment, goods they’re not giving to other people who need them,” FBI Special Agent Carlos Osorio told Fox News.
Osorio, an agent with the FBI in San Juan, said the bureau was investigating the allegations.
“The U.S. attorney has made it clear if anyone is caught mishandling FEMA supplies, they will be prosecuted and could end up facing anywhere from five to 20 years in prison,” Osorio said.
Some of the claims have come by phone and others have poured in over social media, but the allegations stretch across the island. Osorio told of one allegation where a party official is accused of pulling his own car around the back of a government building and driving off after loading it full of FEMA supplies.
“We’re going out and investigating these claims,” Osorio said. “We don’t know yet if they’re accurate or not…but yes we have received many similar allegations from people in many different parts of the island.”
The allegations of misconduct come amid a pitched back-and-forth between island officials and President Trump over the federal response to Maria. San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, a frequent Trump foil, reportedly accused Trump on Thursday of “genocide” for not doing more to aid in the relief efforts.
Cruz sent the accusation in a text message to Rep. Luis V. Gutirrez, D-Ill., who is of Puerto Rican heritage, The Washington Times reported. Trump on Twitter has accused Cruz of poor management. (more)