CAGUAS, PUERTO RICO — The Puerto Rico that President Trump saw during his four-hour visit on Tuesday afternoon was that of Angel Pérez Otero, the mayor of #Guaynabo, a wealthy San Juan suburb known for its amenity-driven gated communities that was largely spared when Hurricane Maria hit two weeks ago.
Pérez Otero led Trump and his entourage on a walking tour of a neighborhood where high-speed winds had blown out some second-story windows and knocked over a few trees — but where life seemed to be returning to normal, thanks to assistance from the government. Neighbors stood outside their homes ready to warmly greet the president, their phones powered up and ready to snap photos.
One homeowner told Trump that he lost a couple of windows and still had not regained electricity, but was never worried about his family’s safety.
“We have a good house, thank God,” he told the president.
“That’s fantastic,” Trump said. “Well, we’re going to help you out. Have a good time.”
If the president had traveled a little deeper into the island, to the communities that sustained some of the heaviest damage, he would have witnessed a very different Puerto Rico.
Ten miles southeast of Guaynabo is the city of Caguas, nestled in a valley ringed by steep sierras and narrow mountain passes, with homes built densely on the edges of gravity-defying slopes. These hills were stripped naked by Maria’s malicious winds, leaving the trees without leaves and fruit, their bare branches contorted in painful postures. Houses that withstood tropical rain and wind for decades were blown off their foundations and destroyed by toppled vegetation. Twisted metal roofs landed in creeks all over the once-lush region.