US President, Donald Trump, today defended the benefits that Latinos have received from his economic measures and avoided any reference to immigration or his policy towards Latin America during the second hosting of his administration to celebrate the Hispanic Heritage Month.
Four days after questioning on Twitter that almost 3,000 people died as a result of Hurricane Maria that hit Puerto Rico a year ago, Trump also made an apparent attempt to overcome this controversy, but failed to rectify his claims about the death toll.
"I want to thank Luis for his partnership with our agencies during the unprecedented disaster that you saw what happened (in Puerto Rico)," Trump said referring to Puerto Rican Vice Governor, Luis Gerardo Rivera Marín, present at the ceremony held at the White House.
"It's been an incredible, tough situation. But we fought, and we are winning that one big. And we stand with Puerto Rico and we are helping them rebuild stronger and better than ever before," the president said.
Trump did not directly mention Hurricane Maria and did not mention the controversy caused by his tweets last Thursday, when he denied that the storm caused almost 3,000 deaths and accused the Democrats of manipulating that data.
The death toll of 2,975 dead, calculated by the George Washington University and accepted as an official data by the Government of Puerto Rico, makes Hurricane Maria one of the worst tragedies due to a natural disaster in the history of the United States, over 1,880 people who died in New Orleans hit by Katrina.
Beyond his brief reference to Puerto Rico, Trump turned his speech on the celebration of the Hispanic Heritage Month, which is celebrated from September 15 to October 15, in a defense of the alleged economic benefits that Latinos in the US have received thanks to his policies.
That strategy had worked for him last March, when he gave the first speech of his mandate to a Hispanic organization, the conservative business group The Latino Coalition, and Trump chose to repeat the formula and avoid controversial issues, such as his promise to build a wall in the border with Mexico.
"We have the best economy in the history of our country (...), and the Hispanic unemployment rate has recently reached an all-time historic low in the history of our country," he said.
The president also highlighted the decline in the poverty rate for Hispanics, and predicted that Democrats will not be able to "beat that in an election," because "they're not going to do better."
"These are very hard numbers to beat. I better win the Hispanics next time," he said, referring to the 2016 elections, where his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, won 66% of the Latino vote.
Before a similar audience of some 200 businesspeople, diplomats and politicians who sometimes shouted "Long live Trump!", The president asked two Latino businessmen to take the stage to defend the impact that his tax cuts and other policies have had in their business.
Unlike in his speech last year, Trump made no reference to his policy regarding Venezuela, Cuba or Mexico, and only included a vague remark on immigration at the end of the speech.
"Today we also remember that America is home to people from many backgrounds, with many different stories. But we are all one people. We are all part of one great American family. And we are all in this together, saluting one flag, singing one anthem and pledging allegiance to one nation under God," he said.
The ceremony was also attended by Vice President Mike Pence and two of the highest-ranking Hispanics on the Trump team: Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta and US Treasurer Jovita Carranza.