Governor blames 'colonialism' for US's poor Puerto Rico hurricane response

White House: 'Significant Progress' on Puerto Rico Year After Hurricane

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - Clapping and raising their hands to the sky, hundreds of people clad in white gathered at an 18th-century fort in the Puerto Rican capital on Thursday to remember the thousands who died in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria as the USA territory struggles to recover one year after the Category 4 storm hit. And because Puerto Rico's infrastructure and financial standing was already in need of help before Maria, the natural and government-led disasters that followed have turned a delicate situation into an untenable one.

Rossell, who has been reluctant to contradict the President in the past over his handling of the hurricane, previously disputed Trump's statement on the revised death toll, telling CBS News, "Neither the people of Puerto Rico nor the victims deserve their pain to be questioned".

"If the Puerto Rican people don't realize that the American federal government does not care about them and does not care about their well-being - if this doesn't show them that then I don't know what else will", Torres said.

Ilanys Hernandez, who now lives in Bridgeport, was born in Barceloneta, Puerto Rico.

In a series of personal accounts of the storm and its aftermath from island residents, compiled by the Times, Puerto Ricans repeatedly reported second-class treatment, illustrating that huge gap in support for natural disasters on the mainland like Harvey and last week's Hurricane Florence, and the response to Maria offshore.

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello said this week that the government is suing insurance companies that it says have not responded quickly enough to damage claims from the storm. "Our hands are folded in prayer and outstretched with love".

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Maria devastated the US commonwealth, and Rossello has said the island's government initially underestimated the death toll, putting it at 64.

The White House made no mention of the controversy over the death toll from the storm.

The storm knocked out power and communications to virtually all of Puerto Rico's 3.2 million residents, while destroying the homes of thousands.

But Trump rejected the figure, saying on Twitter a week ago, "3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico", also referencing Hurricane Irma that delivered a glancing blow to the island a year ago.

"When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths". In August, a study by George Washington University lifted that to almost 3,000. That's not the only emotion people went through - at times, they were also angry. "The best tribute we can give these people, these brothers that we've lost, is to build a better Puerto Rico for their sons, their grandsons and their families".

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