San Juan mayor attacked by Trump is a Boston University graduate

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz as she distributed solar lamps in the city's La Perla neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.
San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz as she distributed solar lamps in the city's La Perla neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. (Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo/Washington Post)

The San Juan mayor who found herself under attack by President Trump on Saturday spent time in Boston, graduating from Boston University as a political science major in 1984.

Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz spent years living in the continental United States, where she graduated magna cum laude from Boston University and received a master’s degree from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, according to online biographies.

Since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, she has become a familiar face on news broadcasts, pleading for help from the United States. On Saturday, those pleas drew ire from Trump.

‘‘Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help,’’ the president said in a series of tweets dispatched from his golf club in New Jersey.


In another tweet, Trump accused Cruz of turning on him at the urging of Democrats.

“The Mayor of San Juan, who was very complimentary only a few days ago, has now been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump,” he wrote.

The tweets came a day after Cruz appealed for help during a news conference in which she accused the Trump administration of dragging its feet after Hurricane Maria.

‘‘We are dying, and you are killing us with the inefficiency,’’ Cruz said Friday, her voice breaking with rage. ‘‘I am begging, begging anyone that can hear us, to save us from dying.’’

On Saturday morning, Cruz appeared to respond to Trump’s attack by posting images to Twitter of people working on relief efforts in Puerto Rico.

“The goal is one: saving lives. This is the time to show our ‘true colors.’ We cannot be distracted by anything else,” she wrote.

Residents of the island, a US territory that is home to more than 3 million American citizens, have struggled without electricity, drinking water, food, and medical supplies since Hurricane Maria tore across the island on Sept. 20.


Trump is scheduled to visit Puerto Rico on Tuesday and has pledged to spare no effort to help the island recover from the hurricane’s ruinous aftermath. In recent days, his administration has stepped up efforts to combat the perception that it failed to grasp the magnitude of Maria’s destruction and gave more attention to Florida, Louisiana, and Texas, which were hit by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Administration officials have held numerous press conferences describing their relief efforts and Trump has mentioned Puerto Rico at nearly every public event.

Thousands more Puerto Ricans have received water and rationed food as an aid bottleneck has begun to ease.

Telecommunications are back for about 30 percent of the island, nearly half of the supermarkets have reopened at least for reduced hours and about 60 percent of the gas stations are pumping. But many remain desperate for necessities, most urgently water, long after the hurricane.

Leaders across Massachusetts have vowed to assist Puerto Rico.

On Saturday, The Puerto Rican Festival of Massachusetts launched a two-day relief drive at Florian Hall in Dorchester. The effort continues Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. when volunteers will collect donations for the storm-ravaged island.

Newton Mayor Setti Warren said he spoke with Cruz by satellite phone on Friday.

“She was impassioned and determined to try to get help for a very desperate situation,” Warren said Saturday in a telephone interview. “She really described a dire scenario.”


Cruz asked for help getting toiletries and basic supplies to San Juan residents, Warren said.

He called Trump’s criticisms “inappropriate and wrong.”

“We need to be focused on getting them the help that is needed,” Warren said.

Earlier in the week, government officials in Newton began publicizing charities that are supporting relief efforts in Puerto Rico.

Warren said the humanitarian crisis there is personal because his maternal grandfather, Edelmiro Lopez, came from the Ponce section of the island.

Also Friday, Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh and the Boston Foundation announced the Massachusetts United for Puerto Rico Fund. The fund-raiser will support relief and reconstruction efforts and assist people coming to Massachusetts to escape the destruction in Puerto Rico, officials said.

Massachusetts has the fifth-largest population of Puerto Ricans in the continental United States, the announcement said. In Boston, 32,226 residents identify as Puerto Rican, officials said.

Globe correspondent Andrew Grant contributed. Associated Press material was used in this report. John Hilliard can be reached at

Laura Crimaldi can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @lauracrimaldi.