Dave Pedley/Getty Images for SXSW
February 02, 2018 03:53 PM

Four months after the Hurricane Maria struck and destroyed large swaths of Puerto Rico, Residente (born René Pérez Joglar) is speaking out against the United States in defense of his home island. The rapper, who’s known for releasing politically charged tracks, feels that the U.S. territory receives sub par treatment from the government.

“The United States has no respect for our country, and that has to be fixed,” Residente, who rose to fame with his band Calle 13,  said in an interview with The Nation. “The failure [of the government’s response to Hurricane Maria] would have been the same whether we had Trump or Hillary or Obama as president. All of them would have failed equally, because no U.S. president in history has really cared about our situation.”

Although Puerto Rico forms part of the U.S., the Latin artist says that the island’s people feel let down and more alone than ever. “They always thought that the United States was there to help, because whenever there was a war, Puerto Ricans would come out without hesitation and join the army, et cetera,” he said. “So there’s this awareness growing on the island right now at 10 times the speed as before…Our self-esteem has to grow and we have to feel like we can do things for ourselves.”

The U.S. government faced a serious backlash for what many perceived as a slow and anemic response to Puerto Rico in the wake of the natural disaster. Remarks made by President Trump also raised the ire of locals, as well as friends and supporters of the island. In October, POTUS criticized the hurricane-ravaged island and warned the U.S. territory that federal aid workers cannot stay there “forever,” blaming the island for a financial crisis “largely of their own making” and infrastructure that was a “disaster” before the super storm struck on Sept. 20. He also memorably visited Puerto Rico and threw paper towels at a crowd of victims in a move many viewed as disrespectful.

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