Lin-Manuel Miranda pushes back on criticism over congressional delegation's Puerto Rico trip

Lin-Manuel Miranda pushes back on criticism over congressional delegation's Puerto Rico trip
© Rafael Bernal

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- "Hamilton" star and writer Lin-Manuel Miranda on Monday praised a delegation of congressional Democrats for traveling to Puerto Rico, despite criticism over their trip's timing during a partial government shutdown.

"I'm very proud to work with the Latino Victory Fund because you're here to work, despite what anyone might claim," said Miranda during a speech at the progressive organization's summit. 

"I know you all saw the blue tarps when your plane landed in Puerto Rico," Miranda told the members of Congress in the audience, referring to temporary roof coverings provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to homes that lost their roofs after Hurricane Maria hit in September 2017.

A group of 36 Democrat lawmakers traveled to the Caribbean territory to attend dual conventions held in San Juan by Bold PAC, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) campaign arm, and the Latino Victory Fund (LVF), which is dedicated to expanding Latino political participation.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpForget the spin: Five unrefuted Mueller Report revelations Lara Trump: Merkel admitting migrants 'one of the worst things that ever happened to Germany' Financial satisfaction hits record high: survey MORE tweeted a "Fox & Friends" headline Monday that read, “Dems in Puerto Rico as Shutdown hits day 24.”

But Miranda said the territory needs the attention from members of Congress.

"We brought 'Hamilton' here to bring a spotlight to Puerto Rico," said Miranda.

Miranda said Friday's opening night in San Juan, a run featuring the show's original Broadway cast, re-energized his hopes for the future of the island.

"I get more energy from Puerto Rico than I will ever need in my life," said Miranda.

Miranda also recounted his experience to bring his hit musical to the island where he spent summers with relatives as a child.

"We announced we were bringing Hamilton to Puerto Rico, but in reality we had no idea if we could bring Hamilton to Puerto Rico," Miranda said, recalling the days after Hurricane Maria devastated the island in 2017. Puerto Rico was essentially cut off from all outside communication for several days, isolating those on the island from their friends and family stateside.

"And then Hurricane Maria happened, and it threw everything into doubt. I don't mean like our plans, I mean life itself," he said.

Miranda added he was impressed by the efforts of people on the island to make do under difficult circumstances.

"You will not meet a more resilient people on the face of this Earth than the people who live on this island, but they shouldn't have to be this resilient," said Miranda.