After President Trump disputed the official government death toll in Puerto Rico left by Hurricane Maria, Boston Red Sox Manager Alex Cora called the remarks “disrespectful” and said it was frustrating that accounts of devastation on the island continue to be debated.
Trump on Thursday tweeted that he believed between six and 18 people died as a result of the storm that struck the island as a Category 4 hurricane. A study commissioned by the government of Puerto Rico and conducted by George Washington University released Thursday put the death count at 2,975. Trump in his tweets blamed Democrats for inflating the numbers.
“To be tweeting about 3,000 people . . . it’s actually disrespectful for my country,” said Cora (via ESPN), a Puerto Rico native whose family was on the island as the storm hit. “We see it that way. I know probably he doesn’t feel that way. And like I said, ‘Hey, man, thank you for helping us.’ He went down there, he did what he did.
“I hate talking about politics and all that, but I think this is more than politics. This is about a country that really suffered. We still . . . you see the hurricanes forming now. Everybody’s panicking. It’s not easy. One thing’s for sure, and I told [the media] before, one thing I’m proud, we’re standing up on our own two feet. Like, do we need help? Yeah, we do. We know that.”
George Washington University said in a statement that it stands by its study. The previous official death toll on the island was 64 until researchers shared their report with the Puerto Rican government.
“Our results show that Hurricane Maria was a very deadly storm, one that affected the entire island but hit the poor and the elderly the hardest,” the statement read. “We are confident that the number — 2,975 — is the most accurate and unbiased estimate of excess mortality to date.”
Cora led a delegation of Red Sox players and staff to the island to distribute aid in the aftermath of the storm. The Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Indians played two games in San Juan in April. Events surrounding the games helped raise money for recovery efforts.
“I hate that people make it a political issue,” Cora said. “This is about human beings. The people that went through this, they know what happened.”
“We’re not where we were. But we will be there, and it’s just a matter of time,” he added. “But you know, it’s a little bit, kind of like, frustrating that the topic keeps coming and coming and coming. What’s the point, honestly? And I respect him. He’s the president of the United States. But I don’t agree with a lot of stuff that he says about us.”
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