In Puerto Rico, Julián Castro draws contrast to Trump on ‘respect’ for the island

By Suzanne Gamboa

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Two days after jumping into the 2020 presidential race, Julián Castro made the lingering misery of hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico the focus of the first stop of his campaign.

His visit, along with other events that drew 30 members of Congress to the island — the largest delegation to visit the island — and the presence of award-winning entertainer Lin-Manuel Miranda for performances of “Hamilton” threw the spotlight on Puerto Rico and what hasn’t been done since the U.S. territory was ravaged by Hurricane Maria in September 19, 2016.

“I want all the people of Puerto Rico to know that you count, that we respect you. I want them to know that we are thinking about them as they recover from Hurricane Maria,” Castro said at the political “summit” held by Latino Victory Fund, a political action committee, or PAC, that financially backs Latino candidates for election to political office.

Addressing the reports that the administration is considering diverting funds allocated to Puerto Rico’s recovery for the wall, Castro said it was “completely objectionable, immoral and should never happen.”

Castro was straightforward in describing his intentions for the trip — to contrast how the island has fared under the Trump administration versus how it would do under an administration he’d run.

“It’s a statement that we’re not going to fail the people of Puerto Rico or anybody else the way that the Trump administration has failed the people here,” Castro told NBC News after his plane landed in San Juan Sunday. “And it’s failed the people here because it doesn’t believe anybody counts, but I do.”

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