Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez responded to a right-wing talk show host who accused her on Tuesday of leaving her grandmother in “squalid” conditions in Puerto Rico.
The back-and-forth began with a tweet from the New York Democrat on Wednesday which highlighted the desperate conditions many Puerto Ricans remain in following the 2017 landfall of Hurricane Maria, which devastated the island territory.
The tweet included a picture of a sparsely furnished home belonging to Ms Ocasio-Cortez’s grandmother, who she said had recently fallen ill, prompting a visit by the congresswoman.
“Hurricane María relief hasn’t arrived. Trump blocked relief $ for [Puerto Rico]. People are being forced to flee ancestral homes, & developers are taking them,” she tweeted.
The statement provoked a response from The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh, who wrote: “Shameful that you live in luxury while allowing your own grandmother to suffer in these squalid conditions.”
Shameful that you live in luxury while allowing your own grandmother to suffer in these squalid conditions
— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) June 2, 2021
Ms Ocasio-Cortez fired back minutes later, writing that Mr Walsh didn’t “even have a concept for the role that 1st-gen, first-born daughters play in their families”.
“My abuela is okay. But instead of only caring for mine & letting others suffer, I’m calling attention to the systemic injustices you seem totally fine w/ in having a US colony,” she continued.
You don’t even have a concept for the role that 1st-gen, first-born daughters play in their families.
My abuela is okay. But instead of only caring for mine & letting others suffer, I’m calling attention to the systemic injustices you seem totally fine w/ in having a US colony. https://t.co/QN0ZVoyDt2
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) June 2, 2021
The Trump administration’s response to Maria was widely criticized in the months immediately following the hurricane’s destructive landfall, and continued to be a source of controversy for the former president throughout his term in office.
As recently as April a report from the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of the Inspector General found that roughly $20 billion in federal aid to the island was delayed by unnecessary bureaucratic obstacles, and much of it remains undelivered today.
In 2020, a former official with the Department of Homeland Security told MSNBC that then-President Trump inquired whether the U.S. could “swap Puerto Rico for Greenland because, in his words, Puerto Rico was dirty and the people were poor”.