Puerto Rico march in DC protests slow hurricane relief effort

Washington’s National Mall became a protester's stage for Puerto Rico.

ByABC News
November 19, 2017, 5:42 PM

— -- Protesters marched on Washington's National Mall on Sunday morning to draw attention to the situation in hurricane-stricken Puerto Rico.

The Unity for Puerto Rico March featured politicians as well as boldface names, including Lin-Manuel Miranda, whose agenda was to turn a spotlight on the devastated island territory, and work to update the 1920 law called the Jones Act, which mandates that only American ships may distribute goods among domestic ports.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez of Illinois said Puerto Rico had been neglected, which he called "one of the gravest injustices that I have seen" since he came to Washington as a congressman.

Then he took shots directly at President Trump.

The president recently unveiled a hurricane aid package that secures $44 billion in aid, a figure that many lawmakers said was too low.

He criticized Trump for failing to serve his country in the military, like so many Puerto Ricans do.

"We have a president of the United States who on four occasion ... said, 'My foot hurts, I cannot serve,'" he said. "But he was able to take those feet to every golf course all over the world and walk on them."

The congressman was referring to how Trump received four student deferments from serving in the Vietnam War.

During the presidential campaign, Trump told ABC News chief global affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz that during the war he "had a minor medical deferment for feet, for a bone spur of the foot, which was minor."

Gutierrez went on to say how Trump has no right to disparage Puerto Ricans, who he said are being shortchanged in relief shipments of food, supplies and medicine.

"Well, let me just say to the president of the United States each and every time an airplane showed up in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, you filled it with Puerto Ricans and they said 'Presente!'" he said.

Sunday's march included protesters young and old who proudly raised the island territory's red, white and blue flag while snaking through the U.S. capital, singing and chanting in unison: "What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!" "Who's in the house? Puerto Rico's in the house!" and "The Jones Act has got to go."

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