Puerto Rican-American singer Marc Anthony criticised the president’s handling of natural disasters and the coronavirus pandemic on the island in a new advert from the Lincoln Project, a group of anti-Trump Republicans.
“Our island and our people have suffered from natural disasters, Covid, and a wrecked economy,” Mr Anthony says. “We have also suffered from another disaster, a president who treats Puerto Ricans with insults and contempt, who withholds aid and laughs at our suffering,” he adds, with the advert playing clips of Donald Trump tossing paper towels to Puerto Ricans like he’s shooting a basketball and claiming he’s the “best thing that ever happened to Puerto Rico.”
Hurricane Maria killed as many as 4,000 people in the US territory in 2017 and left the island without a fully functioning electrical grid for nearly a year. Since then protesters and leaders like San Juan’s mayor Carmel Yulín Cruz and Puerto Rico’s former governor Ricardo Roselló have criticised how the president responded to these crises.
Mr Anthony echoed their critiques in official ads for the Biden campaign in September.
Both campaigns are pushing to win over Puerto Ricans, even though those who live on the island itself exist in a quasi-colonial status where they are US citizens but can’t vote in presidential elections and don’t have true congressional representation.
The hope is to reach Puerto Ricans in the island’s diaspora communities in places like Florida, a key swing state where 37 per cent of voting-age Hispanics are Puerto Ricans. Puerto Rico’s governor endorsed President Trump earlier this month.