On September 29th, San Juan Mayor, Carmen Yulín Cruz, stood in front of many news reporters as she did something completely unexpected. She spoke out.
September 20th, Hurricane Maria swallowed up the small island of Puerto Rico and left it wounded in its’ wake. Since, 45% of people on the small island have access to water, which leaves more than half of the island’s 3.4 million people without. With sixteen people already dead, Carmen Yulín Cruz made a firm plea to President Donald Trump, that he would send his unyielding support to the island.
In the five-minute video watched by thousands on Youtube, Cruz says “I have been patient, but I don’t have time for patience anymore.” She then goes on to throw the binders of FEMA files, representative of the lives in danger, onto the floor. “We are dying from the inefficiency”, she says. As she calls out the ‘President of the United States’ by name, going on to say that she is “done being polite, she is done being politically correct, she is mad as hell.”
As social media roared from the “shot heard from around the world”, President Donald Trump engaged in the conversation, tweeting: “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.” Many people spoke out against President Trump’s opinion about Cruz’s leadership.
Such gender discrimination and sex stereotypes have been made many times before. President Donald Trump is known for such degrading tactics in his comments towards Presidential Candidate, Hillary Clinton. The sexist rhetoric that says that women are “poor leaders” is false, however, is not new.
In fact, Michelle Ryan, professor of organizational psychology at Exeter University says that women are more likely to be leaders in a crisis. “Women are more likely to be appointed in times of crisis,” remarks Ryan. “That doesn’t mean they will fail but it does mean that their position will be more risky and precarious. When women lead they are very visible as there are not many of them and their failures and successes are often attributed to their gender.” To imply that Cruz is a poor leader is ridiculous. Cruz, affiliated with the Popular Democratic Party served as a member of the Puerto Rico House of Representatives from 2009 to 2013, and as mayor since 2013. Cruz earned her Bachelor of Arts in political science from Boston University, graduating Magna Cum Laude. She is celebrated by Puerto Ricans for her “boots on the ground” tactics and advocacy for gender, health, and LGBTQ+ issues.
Cruz dismissed the comments saying “the most powerful man in the world is concerned with a 5-foot-tall, 120-pound little mayor of the city of San Juan,” she said. “I don’t have time for politics,” she said. “There is a mission, and that is to save lives.”
As events and resources are beginning to unfold in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Americans should ask themselves this. Is The United States of America doing enough to help Americans and what does leadership look like to you?
If you would like to help Puerto Rico you can donate to UNICEF as they are working to assist as many Puerto Ricans as humanly possible, your donation can allow help to reach more people.
Featured photo courtesy of Flickr.com via Puerto Rican National Guard