Puerto Ricans seem to love a good protest. However, if the governor was unaware of, and not responsible for the hidden cache of relief supplies, why should she resign?
Puerto Rico protesters call for governor to resign after mob finds hidden relief supplies
Protesters in Puerto Rico called for Gov. Wanda Vazquez to resign Monday after stores of relief supplies were found unused in a locked warehouse over the weekend as the island reels from a powerful earthquake.
Dozens gathered outside La Fortaleza, Puerto Rico’s governor’s mansion, banging on frying pans, denouncing Vazquez and holding signs with messages including “Government, Absent, Criminal, Negligent.”
“I have never come out to protest but this caused me so much anger and indignation,” protester Rubi Oliveras told El Vocero newspaper. “How is it possible that you say you care about the country and yet you let so many people die while hiding these supplies?”
News of the unused emergency supplies spread on social media Saturday when a local blogger posted a Facebook video of angry residents storming the facility, which housed water, cots and other relief supplies dating back to Hurricane Maria in 2017.
Ponce Mayor Maria Melendez said she was outraged by the discovery.
“I spent several days requesting cots and water,” said Melendez. “They sent me to Cabo Rojo for the cots and to San Juan for the water. If I had known that those supplies were there I would have demanded that they be taken out immediately.”
Vazquez claimed she was also in the dark about the stash of supplies and fired three top government officials over the weekend — the director of emergency management and the commissioners of the housing and family departments.
But protesters said they were holding her responsible.
“The country is outraged by all the events in which the government has failed us, especially what happened to the warehouse in Ponce with all the stores that must be there,” Justin Jesus Santiago told the newspaper El Nuevo Dia.
Resident Lopez Rivera told El Vocero that “the government has never been prepared for any crisis.”
“The same with Maria, the same with the earthquake,” Rivera said. “They are always looking out for themselves. I doubt that the governor is ready to manage a crisis like this one.”
Last week’s 6.4-magnitude earthquake killed at least one person and caused an estimated $200 million in damage, sending more than 7,000 people to emergency shelters.
The island is also still not fully recovered from Maria, a Category 5 hurricane that hit the island in September 2017, killing more than 3,000 people and leaving much of the island in ruins.