Parroquia Santa Bernadita
San Juan, Puerto Rico
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Father Pena, all of the members of this extraordinary church, a 24-hour church that knows that the light is never gone. (Laughter.) It is a great honor and joy for my wife, Karen, and I to be here at Parroquia Santa Bernadita, a place of vibrant faith that is impressing the people of Puerto Rico and the world. (Applause.)
To my fellow Americans in the room, I bring you greetings from a man who was here just two days ago, the 45th President of the United States of America who sent me to say, we are with you today. We will be with you tomorrow. We will be with you every day until Puerto Rico rebuilds and recovers bigger and better than ever before — President Donald Trump. (Applause.)
And let me express a word of appreciation on behalf of President Trump for your governor. Governor Rossello and his wonderful wife, Beatrice, who is only eight months pregnant. I told your governor in one of our recent video conferences that Puerto Rico is impressing America and impressing the world. And Governor Rossello, you and your family’s commitment, your determination, your vision for Puerto Rico is inspiring our country. And I commend you for that, and I thank you. (Applause.)
And let me assure you that Puerto Rico has a tenacious advocate in Washington, D.C. She is known as your resident commissioner, but we just call her Congresswoman Jennifer Gonzalez. She is amazing. (Applause.)
And thank you, all. Thank you for such a warm welcome today. I must tell you that the hearts of the American people have been breaking for people across these islands. Karen and I were in the U.S. Virgin Islands earlier today. And the President directed me to be with you this week to make sure that people all across Puerto Rico not just in this great city, but in places like Utuado (ph,) Arracebo (ph,) Coma Rio (ph) — all the cities and towns and promises across this land know, as President Trump said, we will get through this, and we will get through this together for everyone on Puerto Rico. (Applause.)
And on the President’s behalf, I say to you we will be here for the long haul. We will be here until all the people can say with one voice: Puerto Rico se levanta. (Applause.)
Puerto Rico is rising. It’s rising on the resilience of the good people of Puerto Rico. It’s rising on the commitment of the American people whose hands and feet are in the form of our armed forces, in the form of FEMA, and the more than 15,000 federal personnel that are on the ground. And it rises in the form of faith that your governor so eloquently described.
And it’s to that faith we repair and we say in this place of worship that first and foremost, we remember those who’ve lost loved ones in these storms. The Bible tells us that the Lord is close to the broken-hearted. And let that be our prayer for all of those who have lost loved ones and may yet learn of loss as time goes forward.
Our commitment to Puerto Rico, I trust is demonstrated by the President and the First Lady’s presence — Karen and my presence here today. But as Jennifer kindly mentioned, I’m honored to be joined by the Secretary of Transportation, Elaine Chao. (Applause.) The Acting Secretary of Health and Human Services Don Wright. (Applause.) And the still new Surgeon General of the United States, Dr. Jerome Adams, who has been in the islands for a week. (Applause.)
The President often says that in America and among the American people when one hurts, we all hurt; when one struggles, we all struggle. When one part of America cries out for help, we come together. And I believe in my heart that when the history of this time and this crisis is recorded in Puerto Rico, this will be a chapter when Americans stood by Americans and delivered on that promise. (Applause.)
With the strong leadership of Governor Rossello, federal officials were here before the storm even arrived, during the storm. I spoke to our FEMA leadership in the region who explained to me that this was a rare occasion where FEMA personnel were sheltering in place during a Category 5 hurricane, not once but twice. We’re proud of the efforts of FEMA. We’re proud of our team on the ground. Nearly a month and a half, one hurricane after another, federal emergency management personnel across this region and across the country have made all of America proud. (Applause.)
And we’re proud of the Armed Forces of the United States of America, including the National Guard of Puerto Rico. (Applause.)
It is remarkable to think of those patriots in the Puerto Rican National Guard, many of whom suffered loss in their homes, in their communities, but still answered the governor’s call, stepped forward to come alongside neighbors and friends in their hour of need.
With the strong leadership of Governor Rossello, strong support of local officials at every level, and the support of those nearly 15,000 federal officials and armed forces, I’m pleased to report to you at this present we’ve delivered 7 million meals, 6 million liters of water. We are — we have a presence here of 14 Navy and Coast Guard ships, the USNS Comfort has arrived. And we have been making steady progress — steady progress opening roads and opening commerce and restoring basic infrastructure. But we have a long way to go.
President Trump and I know this; our entire team does. The people of Puerto Rico can be assured that we will be with you every step of the way. We will see this challenge through. While we’ve made progress, commercial flights resumed; 75 percent of gas stations up and running; electricity to around 50 hospitals and dialysis centers. We know there is so much work to do. But I stand before you today with confidence that this work will be done because I have faith. I have faith in the leadership of Puerto Rico, of Governor Rossello, of all of your leadership at the local level and those that represent you in Washington, D.C., and those that serve you in uniform at every level.
I have faith in all the American citizens across Puerto Rico who have come alongside neighbors and friends in acts of kindness and charity. I have faith in President Trump’s leadership, his determination to stand by Puerto Rico in this challenging time. And I have faith that all of the American people stand today committed to see Puerto Rico through because we are all unidos por Puerto Rico. (Applause.)
And lastly, as Father Pena mentioned, I have that other kind of faith. I have faith that He in who the people of Puerto Rico have placed their trust for generations past is still with us today as our refuge and our strength, and that as Puerto Rico and its people do as you’ve done throughout your history, as you continue to build on that rock, that the rains may come down, the winds will blow and beat against the house, but the house will not fall because it’s built upon the rock. (Applause.)
And on that rock of faith, we know Puerto Rico will rise again. The U.S. Virgin Islands will rise again, as President Trump loves to say, bigger and better than ever before.
And so let me say with confidence, with your continued generosity to your neighbors, with the strong leadership of Puerto Rico at every level, with the dedication of American officials from our armed forces to FEMA, the generosity of Americans who at this very hour are finding ways to help and contribute to the renewal of this region, and with the leadership of President Donald Trump in the White House, and with God’s help, I know in my heart of hearts Cochi (ph) will sing loudly once again. (Applause.) And the best days for Puerto Rico and for all of America are yet to come.
Thank you. God bless all of you. God bless Puerto Rico and may God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)