Manifestantes

Demonstrator outside La Fortaleza, Puerto Rican Government House. (Gabriel López Albarrán)

WASHINGTON (AP) —The Trump administration is delaying the release of more than $8 billion in funds to help Puerto Rico prepare for the next natural disaster, citing political unrest and financial irregularities in the U.S. territory.

The funds are part of $16 billion approved by Congress for mitigation projects, such as hardening electrical grids, in states and territories receiving presidential disaster declarations from 2015 to 2017.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development is detailing rules for nine states to get the funds first. They are Texas, Louisiana, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, California, Missouri and Georgia.

HUD Secretary Ben Carson says their recovery "should not be held back due to alleged corruption, fiscal irregularities and financial mismanagement occurring in Puerto Rico." The U.S. Virgin Islands would be grouped with Puerto Rico.

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