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Pence faces outraged Puerto Ricans in Florida

Miami, Jan 17 (IANS) While addressing a “Latinos For Trump” event in Florida, US Vice President Mike Pence faced outraged Puerto Ricans who called on the government to alleviate the devastation caused by hurricanes and earthquakes on the Caribbean island.

The endorsement of the “Latinos For Trump” coalition, which organized the event in Kissimmee – a city with a high concentration of the Puerto Rican community displaced by natural disasters, stood in contrast to the new group “Latinos Against Trump” and Puerto Rican community leaders who denounced the federal government’s “neglect” before the media on Thursday, reports Efe news.

Puerto Ricans urged Pence to disburse the federal resources already approved for the recovery of the island after Hurricanes Maria and Irma in 2017, to eliminate the Cabotage Law to reduce the cost of importing products, and to “cancel” the million-dollar fiscal debt.

Millie Santiago, one of the founders of the caucus Pa’lante Por Más (Forward For More), told Efe news that the 3.5 million Puerto Ricans don’t feel the support of the Trump administration.

“They are ignoring and causing more damage and pain to our families than the disasters do,” she said.

But the Vice President told the crowd that the government will stand by Puerto Ricans until their island has recovered, and announced the signing of a disaster declaration by Trump.

The Latin-American community against Trump criticized everything from the neglect of the crisis in Puerto Rico to the difficulties faced by Latinos in Florida in terms of health and environmental safety, housing and employment.

However, in his half-hour speech in which he also exalted religious freedom and “Latino values”, Pence highlighted Trump’s military, commercial and labour achievements, including keeping unemployment among Hispanics at under 5 percent for 20 consecutive months.

Pence asked “Latinos For Trump” to repeat the victory that the real estate magnate won in 2016 in Florida, a state that beat Democrat Hillary Clinton.

The Puerto Ricans in Florida, who already exceed their compatriots in New York with more than 1.3 million, figure as an influential electorate in a swing state that could give victory to either party.

–IANS

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