San Juan Mayor Highlights Importance of Honesty in Public Communications

Carmen Yulín Cruz visited GSPM class to thank students and share lessons from the ongoing crisis caused by Hurricane Maria.

Image of Carmen Yulín Cruz
San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz talked to and posed for pictures with GSPM students. (William Atkins/GW Today)
November 02, 2017

Carmen Yulín Cruz visited GSPM class to thank students and share lessons from the ongoing crisis caused by Hurricane Maria.

Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz of San Juan, Puerto Rico, joined students from the George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management Tuesday to give an update on recovery efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

Ms. Cruz visited Professor Lawrence Purnell’s class to thank students for their contributions to hurricane relief and to share leadership lessons from the storm that destroyed her hometown and thrust her into the national political spotlight. 

“Public communications is a conversation that is integral to democracy,” she said. “If you are going to communicate something, communicate the truth.”

In the aftermath of the hurricane, which left the island virtually without power and supplies, Ms. Cruz said the gravity of the situation was not being communicated to the American people. Her appearance on cable news wearing a shirt reading “Help us, we are dying,” helped to spark additional conversations about the plight of Puerto Ricans after the storm.

“Your job as future PR professionals is to make sure that those who don’t have a voice are heard,” Ms. Cruz said.

Students in the course, “Strategic Public Relations Principles and Practices,” praised the mayor for her honesty and said her efforts on behalf of San Juan were inspiring. The visit was facilitated by GSPM student Jesus Flores Diaz, a family friend of Ms. Cruz who often assists her during trips to Washington, D.C.

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