US President Donald Trump on Friday announced that the United States will send 13 billion dollars in emergency relief to Puerto Rico, a Caribbean island and US territory that was devastated by a hurricane three years ago.
“Today my administration is making the largest emergency relief award in history to rebuild Puerto Rico’s electrical grid and educational system,” Trump announced during a press conference.
“We’re awarding 13 billion dollars to permanently repair and replace thousands of miles of transmission and redistribution lines that should have been done many years ago.”
Critics of the president have questioned why this emergency relief was not delivered to the island sooner and accused Trump of releasing the aid for political purposes.
Trump had previously opposed disaster relief for Puerto Rico, arguing that Congress had given the US territory too much money compared to states like Florida and Texas.
In the run-up to the November 3 presidential election, Trump and the Democratic nominee for president, former vice president Joe Biden, are both courting voters in the important swing state of Florida, where a substantial number of Puerto Ricans live.
Trump, however, told reporters that it had taken time to get the relief approved due to a lack of political will in Washington.
He also promised to revive the island’s pharmaceutical manufacturing industry. “We’re building it up as a great medical pharmaceutical manufacturing area,” Trump said.