Carmen Yulin Cruz: Fearless in Disaster
“Dammit, this is not a good news story. This is a ‘people are dying’ story. It’s a life or death story.”
With that impassioned call to arms, Carmen Yulin Cruz, the firebrand mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico leapt onto the national stage.
Cruz was emphatic about the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria and the paltry relief efforts helmed by FEMA and other U.S. agencies.
Cruz won respect for her unadulterated and real-time assessment of the situation on the ground in Puerto Rico. Rightly labeling the disaster a humanitarian crisis, she has been an insistent and unapologetic voice demanding the federal government protect the people of Puerto Rico.
When Trump remarked that Cruz had gotten marching orders from the Democrats to be nasty to him, the mayor clapped back, “Maybe he’s used to women who have to be told what to do. That’s not who we are here in San Juan,”
Born and raised in San Juan, the charismatic 54 year-old has been a leader since high school. She ran track, earned academic honors and was president of the student council. She graduated magna cum laude from Boston University and earned a master’s degree from Carnegie Mellon. After stints at Scotiabank and the U.S. Treasury Department, she returned to Puerto Rico in 1992.
Cruz soon jumped into politics as an advisor to a former mayor of San Juan. She was later elected to Puerto Rico’s House of Representatives, and in 2012 she took on and defeated San Juan’s incumbent mayor.