On Thursday, acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke claimed that the U.S. government's response to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria was "really a good news story in terms of our ability to reach people and the limited number of deaths that have taken place in such a devastating hurricane."
The following day, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz said on CNN's New Day, "When you're drinking from a creek, it's not a good news story. When you don't have food for a baby, it's not a good news story. When you have to pull people down from buildings — I'm sorry, that really upsets me and frustrates me. ... This is a 'people are dying' story. It's a life-or-death story."
In response to Cruz's criticism, Donald Trump tweeted that "the Mayor of San Juan, who was very complimentary only a few days ago, has now been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump." He added, "Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help. They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort."
Before her career in politics, the San Juan native studied in the U.S. mainland, attending Boston University as an undergraduate and Carnegie Mellon for her Master's. Afterward, she became a human resources director and manager for several companies and the U.S. Treasury Department, according to the Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce. She came back to Puerto Rico after that to serve as an adviser to San Juan's mayor and then to the Puerto Rico House of Representatives president. She joined the House of Representatives in 2008.
While she ran for mayor, a position she's now serving her second term in, Cruz called herself “pitirre,” The New York Times reports. That's a little bird that fights bigger birds — a label that now seems fitting.
After Hurricane Maria hit, she rescued residents at an assisted living facility herself. When asked if she was concerned it could appear like she was doing this for her image, she told The New York Times, "My job is to make life better for people, and you cannot make life better if you are in a helicopter. You can’t make life better for them if you can’t touch them."
"Sometimes you have to shake the tree in order to make things happen," she continued. "And if that has a political cost, I will take it, as long as it saves lives."