Chef Jose Andres has some choice words for President Donald Trump.
The president on Thursday rejected the official death toll from hurricanes that slammed Puerto Rico last fall. Without evidence, he blamed Democrats for grossly inflating the tally.
Andres, who traveled to Puerto Rico to help those on the island shortly after Hurricane Maria hit, told CNBC on Thursday, “This is insane.”
“Nobody should be proud,” he said on “Power Lunch.”
“We should be honoring those people, those men and women, that died. What is astonishing to me is that a year later we are still talking about this,” he added.
Trump made his comments Thursday morning on Twitter, saying “3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico.”
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In August, the Puerto Rican government raised the official death count dramatically to 2,975, after maintaining for months that only 64 people had died as a result of Hurricanes Maria and Irma.
Andres said this should have been known a long time ago.
“If we knew officially that there were so many deaths, the full weight of the federal government will be there in Puerto Rico making sure that we will help those American people in the Caribbean,” he said.
The chef, who has 31 restaurants in North America and the Caribbean, arrived on Puerto Rico five days after Hurricane Maria hit and quickly set up shop to get food to those affected. He worked with World Central Kitchen and 20,000 volunteers, staying roughly three months and serving about 3 million meals.
“If I was able to know how many meals I was serving every day, if I knew how many volunteers I had, if I knew how many kitchens I had, … if a little NGO [non-governmental organization] that was not supposed to be there was able to know all of that, how is it possible the federal government and the government of Puerto Rico were clueless on the real number of deaths? Those questions need to be answered.”
Earlier in the day, he slammed Trump on Twitter.
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Andres has now written a memoir about his time in Puerto Rico, called “We Fed an Island.” He received the James Beard Humanitarian of the Year award for his work in Puerto Rico and has been twice named in Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People.”
— CNBC’s Kevin Breuninger and AJ Vielma contributed to this report.
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