The most recent edition of Univision’s Sunday political affairs show Al Punto featured an interview with the governor of Puerto Rico on the eve of the first anniversary of Hurricane María’s catastrophic landfall upon the island territory. Host Jorge Ramos took the opportunity to further politicize the aftermath of the hurricane and push a hyperpartisan narrative.
Watch as Ramos attempts to goad Rosselló into a public feud with President Donald Trump over the administration’s response to the hurricane, and over the findings of the GWU study that estimates nearly 3,000 fatalities as a result of the hurricane:
JORGE RAMOS, SENIOR ANCHOR, UNIVISION: Governor, I’ve got a minute left and I’d like to ask you the following: Do you regret that press conference in San Juan where President Donald Trump asked how many fatalities there were and you told him 16? Many feel, Governor, that you took a very submissive attitude towards President Donald Trump, and that you should’ve demanded much more from him. Do you regret what happened at that press conference?
GOV. RICARDO ROSSELLÓ (D-PR): I understand, Jorge, that there are people with differing points of view. My job as governor is to receive the resources that allow me to serve our people, and particularly so after this devastation. This was the information that we had back then. Subsequent to that, obviously, we saw that this was an inadequate protocol and my job, then, is to identify those errors and to be able to remedy them. I will move forward in a spirit of dialogue with the federal government. I will continue pointing out those things that are good, but I will also continue…
ROSSELLO: ...to establish what is bad, Jorge, and I believe that this gives me a different credibility. Because in this environment, sometimes, using Puerto Rico as a political football, you either try to articulate everything as being good or everything as being bad. (This is) important, and I’ll close with this, Jorge, it is important to establish that there is a difference here because we are second-class citizens. We appreciate all those that are utilizing Puerto Rico, (or rather) that have Puerto Rico in their thoughts. If they want to resolve the problem at its root then they have to eradicate the colony in Puerto Rico, and they have to validate the democratic desire of the people of Puerto Rico to transition into becoming a state of the Union. Otherwise, we’ll see what we are seeing now. Second-class treatment, different treatment between Texas, Florida, and what the response was in Puerto Rico. It’s time for the United States to take a step forward, to eradicate the colonies and thus we will all prosper.
RAMOS: Governor, thank you for talking to us.
ROSSELLO: Thank you very much, Jorge.
There are those who believe that by taking a diplomatic approach towards the president, Rossello is somehow guilty of being weak and submissive. The “submissive” angle is one that Ramos has been hammering throughout his interviews with representatives of the island’s government, and it should be noted that when Ramos says, “many feel”, those “many” are mostly Rep. Luis Gutiérrez, whose smear of the U.S. military aired later in the broadcast, and the radical mayor of San Juan Carmen Yulín Cruz, who leveraged the aftermath of Hurricane Maria into her crowning as the left-media’s liberal darling. Ramos, in effect, carries their water by conveying that sentiment.
Rosselló returns the favor by pivoting from Ramos’ loaded question to an impassioned argument for statehood, and a rebuke against those who would politicize the grief and tragedy of a catastrophic hurricane.
There are some who want to goad the governor into a public fight against President Trump. Rossello, to his credit, has resisted those efforts so far, instead focusing his energies on the work that Puerto Rico faces going forward. In the best interests of that recovery, it would be helpful if everyone else did the same.