A coordinated strategy against drug trafficking in Puerto Rico

https://www.elnuevodia.com/english/editorial/a-coordinated-strategy-against-drug-trafficking

A coordinated strategy against drug trafficking

The report by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) refers to the big challenges government face in confronting the persistent threat of drug trafficking, as well as money laundering schemes associated with this illegal activity that attacks the security of the United States and its allies. According to this report,  Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands face additional security risks for citizens due to criminality linked to the distribution and consumption of drugs. The document points out that, to fight drug trafficking, coordination between the U.S. and international agencies is especially critical in the Caribbean region, due to geography and difficulties local authorities face in combating it.   The document reaffirms the strategic importance of interdiction efforts from Puerto Rico, which could involve assigning more federal security personnel to the island and other Caribbean jurisdictions. It also suggests that the Police and other local law enforcement agencies should work closer together to strengthen the fight against drug trafficking.   On June 10, off the coast of Vieques, authorities seized more than $2 million in cash dropped in suitcases from a ship that could not be intercepted by a federal patrol, which shows the magnitude of drug trafficking in Puerto Rico, identified as a transshipment point for cocaine heading to the United States.   Federal authorities acknowledge in the report that the limited monitoring points in many Caribbean jurisdictions represent deficiencies in curbing these activities. They mention that political instability in countries like Venezuela is a stumbling block to intercepting drug shipments originated in South América and shipped to the north mostly by fast boats. Collaboration between federal and local authorities against drug trafficking is not new. In the 1990s, Puerto Rican police officers joined frequent operations designed by the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) when the island was listed in the High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program. These initiatives gradually decreased. However, the new ONDCP report seems to suggest that information sharing strategies with state authorities and the use of new technology to fight this evil will increase. This must become true. In Puerto Rico, according to official reports, the police stop up to 20 percent of drug shipments to the United States. The portion that remains here has a dire effect on the island, where 90 percent of the murders are associated with fights over the sale or consumption of controlled substances. Most homicide victims are working-age people. Their deaths, like those of hundreds of young people who die each year from overdoses of heroin, cocaine, or other drugs, keep families in constant pain. Drug trafficking makes our streets increasingly unsafe, they become frequent scenarios for shootings between drug gangs that end up killing innocent people. This situation urges to ensure the arrest and prosecution of the shooters so that impunity does not remain as a sad message of the failure to guarantee public safety. By fully cooperating with these new federal efforts against controlled substances distribution, Puerto Rican authorities will take indispensable steps to promote a better quality of life and social harmony for the island´s residents.

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Governor Wanda’s Lies – A long list in detail

The automated translation from Spanish has many errors, but you can still get the idea that Governor Wanda has a long list of lying.

https://www.elnuevodia.com/opinion/la-tilde-de-mabel/las-mentiras-de-wanda

Mabel M. Figueroa Pérez

LA TILDE DE MABEL

By Mabel M. Figueroa Pérez

💬18

Wanda’s Lies

Word: Lying

Meaning: deliberately saying the opposite of what is known, believed or thought to be true in order to deceive someone.

Etymology: comes from Latin liei.

“The punishment of the liar is not to be believed, even if I tell the truth”– Aristotle.

Wanda Vazquez’s stumbles, contradictions and improvisations since she became governor because of stumbles of chance and not at the will of the Puerto Rican electorate, fall short of what has been the constant in the 11 months of her administration: lies.

At this point in his public life, his credibility is virtually zero. Just look at the comments on social media for everything you post to realize that very few already believe you. When a ruler gets into a bubble of flatterers and isolates himself from his reality, little can be expected. That is the great evil that many of the tenants of the Palace of St. Catherine suffer.

Why don’t people believe Wanda? Well, it’s very simple, they don’t believe her because the lies have been so much that the exhaustion sucked out the confidence that was given to her in the wake of chaos that left the shrug out of his former boss Ricardo Rosselló almost a year ago.

“The only truth is reality”– Aristotle.

If you sit down and watch that nefarious record calmly, understand why so many don’t believe you anymore.

The last chapter with the dismissal of the former Secretary of Justice, Dennise Longo, and the reference to the Office of the Independent Special Prosecutor (OFEI) against the governor and who finished processing before leaving, has put the figure of Wanda in extreme danger because it is peppered with a potential crime of obstruction of justice. That, only time and evidence will confirm it.

And now, the “resignation” of Longo’s replacement, who was the one who sent for the delivery of the referrals to OFEI, far from closing the chapter opens it even more.

“Just as the eyes of bats are obfuscated in daylight, in the same way to the intelligence of our soul is obfuscated by the obvious things” – Aristotle.

Sit down for a while and see why they call Wanda a liar and liar. Her motto is that her government is one of law and order, that she is due to “my people of Puerto Rico” and that that is her “campaign machine”… See.

Although the country was in shock at the disappearance of wagons with supplies that did not surrender to the victims of Hurricane Maria, Wanda, then justice secretary, refused to investigate it when some appeared on a private estate. That earned him a public rebuke from Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz and the country’s near-unanimous condemnation.

Then, on July 26, 2018 it was revealed that in the scandalous Whatsapp chat she had had an exchange with the then secretary of the Governorate, Raúl Maldonado, in which she tells her that it was better not to give way in Justice to a report on the cars because so “does not put me in a position to investigate and issue expressions”.

“You can’t untie a knot without knowing how it’s done”– Aristotle.

She wasn’t a governor yet, and she was already carrying that weight. With Rosselló’s departure she repeatedly said that she was not interested in being governor and was a lie. She played the chess of the chips and embraced the position that constitutionally belonged to her because there was no secretary of state. In the end, she was sworn in on August 2, 2019, and from then on, the indictments and intuertes have been an integral part of her government.

She said he wouldn’t move to The Fortress, but he did it weeks later after he said it. She lied.

She began to win over people with the openness to the dialogue he entered into, but the honeymoon lasted very little. Days after swearing, she revealed that the struggle for stand-up was not her priority and thus earned the almost unanimous rejection of the PNP leadership because it was a campaign promise and because it is the ideal for which they exist as a collective. When the water room was filled, she collected candles and after having reiterated that she was not interested in running for a political post, it turned out to be another lie because she did and with it she then embraced the struggle for the standity. Wanda lied to the penises.

Earthquakes came in the southwest area and improvisation began to fill the earth’s jolts. It seemed that we were adrift and the climbing of decews resumed his flight.

The Ponce warehouse scandal, which is part of Longo’s referrals to OFEI, was the big debut. First she said she didn’t know. She then admitted that everyone knew it after the ousted commissioner of the Emergency Management and Disaster Management Negotiated Carlos Acevedo ensured that she and her Secretary of State, Elmer Román, were indeed aware of the existence of that warehouse with supplies under lock and key and that both had departed from the operational plan response protocol for disastrous events that the two had signed. She lied again.

In the midst of the tragedy, she posted a video on his social media using the victims and their pain to do politics. She said that what she sought was to show empathy and that no one had to interpret it, as if she were a halo of light and her government an example of transparency. That was February 7, 2020. The simpleness of reporting how it had been subsidized became another scandal. She said no funds were used from The Fortress and her campaign manager, Jorge Dávila, which was not a political announcement, which was a “wild” video. Everyone knows it’s not because of its production quality. Three days later, the State Election Commission confirmed that they were not asked for permission for a proselytizing announcement, as required in election year. They ended up saying it had been a “personal expression in their accounts.” Wanda lied again.

On September 27, 2019, she gave the go-ahead to the Tax Oversight Board’s pension reduction plan, and in addition to the fact that, although she had said there would be no hike in electricity service, she went to the Capitol to require legislators to approve the ESA plan that led to tariff increases. Lawmakers stood firm not to give way and had to withdraw. She used everything, including that if it wasn’t for her, they wouldn’t have a chance to win another election. It was recorded and the country listened to it. Wanda lied again.

On January 19, 2019, she launched the Secretaries of Housing and Family, Fernando Gil and Glorimar Andújar. First she said it had been because they evasively answered her questions about Ponce’s warehouse and the plan to distribute supplies to the victims. It was later learned that she dismissed Andújar because she had removed the head of the Family Socio-Economic Development Administration, Surima Quiñones, on the knowledge that she used the supplies to be affected to advance political agendas. Wanda lied again.

Two days after the homeowner’s dismissal, Wanda turns another setback and says he threw it out, not because of the Ponce warehouse as she had said, but because she had put the federal CDBG funds that the U.S. government had not yet disbursed. Wanda lied again.

On March 6, 2019, the governor asked the press not to talk to her about the warehouse anymore and did not assume her responsibility as governor, which is what it does by use and custom. Now that scandal is the linchpin of new references to OFEI.

“You can’t be and not be something at the same time and under the same look”– Aristotle.

Then came the COVID-19 pandemic and the lies surfaced from the beginning.

Wanda announced that Bayamón Regional Hospital would be used as a base to deal with critical cases. It was last March 19 and 12 days later it was revealed that it was fake, that they could not rely on a hospital with only 20 beds. On April 3, it was reported that all hospitals would receive cases. Wanda lied again.

The scandal of buying quick evidence from Apex company spread like gunpowder. Wanda quoted a press conference with everything and documents, as she did to try to justify Longo’s dismissal, and called the search that would then start the House of Representatives as a political and non-genuine court. The country saw day after day how everything fell by its weight with the revelations of the witnesses quoted. The investigation culminated in referrals to state and federal authorities. Wanda lied again.

She said they’d track down the passengers arriving on the island, but that didn’t happen. On March 13, Wanda said that the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Negotiated was in charge of passenger tracking and was immediately denied by federal agency spokesman Jeffrey Quiñones. Wanda lied to us. That is why on the famous Iberia flight that arrived on the island nothing was done with those who arrived. He then made sure that the crawl was carried out by the company Telemedik, which is the one that supplementarys the information of those arriving at the airport. It was April 29th last and on the same day, the company revealed that this was false. Wanda’s government lied again.

“Doubt is the principle of wisdom”— Aristotle.

The state message he provided credited Rosselló’s projects and the billions of federal dollars that the resident commissioner, Jenniffer González, managed to engage in negotiations with the Donald Trump administration. They don’t even know how to lie when they circulated an “invitation” to Gonzalez to the protocol acts of 4 July last, in which they even misled his last name. Ugly, ugly, ugly left. Wanda lied again.

The lies spread like tentacles in the area of education and school inspections. The data jumped and nothing was clear.

The commissioner of the Emergency and Disaster Management Negotiated, General José Burgos, resigned on Tuesday and expressed his doing so in the political environment that did not allow him to do his duty. Despite that writing, as if we lacked neurons, the governor said it was for strict personal reasons. Wanda said another falsehood.

And now she faces a referral, an event in which the justice secretary she appointed and who already left after Rivera Schatz’s warning, Wandymar Burgos, had the audacity to stop the process of delivering six boxes of evidence to OFEI last Friday.

Wanda says she threw Longo out because she was supposed to participate in a meeting about a federal prosecutor around the Department of Health while her mother, Concepción Quiñones de Longo, was still working there. Longo said that was false and explained that that meeting was never held, that she has everything in order and that she is aware that she did not commit any illegal or unethical act.

And to complete the governor, she said on the radio that those who have interviewed told her that the prosecutors in the case say there’s nothing there. This is very serious. Social media has been filled with surveys about who’s telling the truth. Why don’t you believe Wanda? There’s her record.

“Knowing is remembering”– Aristotle.

 

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More names confirmed in referrals case in latest Puerto Rican scandal with Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced’s PNP administration under investigation

https://www.elnuevodia.com/english/news/story/more-names-confirmed-in-referrals-case

More names confirmed in referrals case

There are other officials also included in the investigation Justice delivered to Special Independent Prosecutor´s Office

jueves, 9 de julio de 2020 – 12:35 p.m.

Nelson Cruz (David Villafane/Staff)

Senator Nelson Cruz Santiago, former Commissioner of Emergency Management and Disaster Administration José R. Burgos and former Administrator of Family Socioeconomic Development (ADSEF, Spanish Acronym) Surima Quiñones Suárez are among those referred by the Justice Department to the Special Independent Prosecutor Panel (PFEI, Spanish Acronym), sources confirmed to El Nuevo Día.

They join Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced, against whom Justice recommended the appointment of a Special Independent Prosecutor in one of the six investigations referred to the agency tasked with prosecuting high-level officials in Puerto Rico.

Senator Evelyn Vázquez, pointed as one of the people investigated by Justice, said yesterday that she has not received any notice from the Special Independent Prosecutor´s Office. On Tuesday, Justice, not the PFEI, sent the referred officials a letter notifying them of the interagency process. Sources agree that she and her husband, Peter Muller, are included in the referrals.

According to sources close to the cases, there was a total of 17 referrals signed, and 14 of those recommended to appoint a special independent prosecutor. Some of those involved could have received more than one letter, as was the case with the governor.

In the case of Burgos, the facts investigated leading to the referral are still unknown, which was confirmed to this newspaper, by three sources close to the former official.

La Fortaleza announced Burgos’ resignation Tuesday, in the statement, Vázquez Garced regrets the departure of the official, which she attributed to personal matters. However, the same document cites the official’s resignation letter stating that “the current political environment does not allow me to carry out my duties in the manner I had committed and proposed.”

The rest of those involved, however, are linked to an alleged scheme in which they distributed aid to the victims of the January earthquakes this year following partisan considerations.

Senator Cruz Santiago, meanwhile, admitted he received the letter notifying him that they had recommended the appointment of an independent special prosecutor, a matter that left him puzzled because, until Tuesday, he thought he was a witness and not a suspect.

He indicated that he is currently waiting for the PFEI’s determination to accept or reject Justice’s recommendation to assign him a special prosecutor, a matter which according to PFEI President Nydia Cotto Vives, could take days or weeks, depending on the complexity of the files they are still receiving from Justice.

“I have the same (letter) they sent the governor, according to what she posted on Twitter. So far, I only know that the governor and I have received letters. They say there are 16 people in the referrals, but I don’t know. If it is about aid distribution, I understand that there is no violation (of the law), although I don’t know what´s in those files. But regarding what I know about the facts, there is no violation,” said Cruz Santiago.

The senator said that the prosecutors interviewed him but never read him his rights.

Meanwhile, Surima Quiñones Suárez’s lawyer, Frank Torres Viada, confirmed the referral against his client in the mishandling of aid during the earthquakes.

“(Surima Quiñones) received a notice from the Department of Justice essentially informing her that the Division of Public Integrity and Comptroller’s Affairs made a referral to the PFEI recommending the appointment of a special prosecutor to further investigate allegations about the distribution of food through the program under the ADSEF,” the attorney said.

Family Secretary Eddie A. García Fuentes announced May 12 that he was firing Suárez Quiñones after the agency’s internal investigation revealed irregularities in the distribution of food purchased with The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) funds.

Although administrative investigators found no evidence that Quiñones Suárez gave instructions to withhold supplies to be distributed by New Progressive Party (NPP) figures, they did indicate that Sen. Vázquez had “full knowledge” of the logistics and “appeared to have the authority to give instructions. It can be concluded that Quiñones Suárez allowed Sen. Vázquez to intervene in the form and manner the food would be distributed,” reads the report prepared by attorneys Ernie Caban and Ismael Ortiz.

Until yesterday, neither Justice nor the PFEI had publicly informed who the people involved in these cases were, a matter that breaks with the usual standard between the two entities to handle these processes.

It is known, however, that the Justice Department’s investigation arose from a letter Rafael “Tatito” Hernández, spokesman of House Popular minority, sent to that agency last January.

He recommended the Justice Department to evaluate possible violations to the Penal Code, specifically Article 252 on the illegal use of public works or services, and Article 261 on undue influence.

In his letter, he mentioned that Glorimar Andújar, former head of the Family Department, said she was fired by the governor for suspending Quiñones Suárez after learning of the alleged scheme to distribute supplies applying partisan considerations.

On Friday, now former Justice Secretary Dennise Longo Quiñones signed six referrals that were delivered to the PFEI. Two of the referrals were against the governor and were completed by Longo Quiñones just before she left office at the request of Vázquez Garced.

The governor alleged Tuesday that Longo Quiñones’ departure was for intervening in a federal investigation involving the official’s mother, and said the investigation against her is “rigged,” a matter denied by Longo Quiñones.

Reporters Osman Pérez and Benjamín Torres Gotay collaborated in this story.

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Justice secretary, Wandymar Burgos, who lasted only 1 week, resigns as Puerto Rico turmoil deepens

The people of Puerto Rico anxiously await the results of the latest political drama.  Who else is on the chopping block?  Will this lead to the resignation of the Governor, Wanda Vázquez?

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/ap/article-8507091/Justice-secretary-resigns-Puerto-Rico-turmoil-deepens.html

Justice secretary resigns as Puerto Rico turmoil deepens

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) – Puerto Rico´s political turmoil deepened Thursday as the island´s newest justice secretary resigned in the wake of an investigation targeting the U.S. territory´s governor, who remains under scrutiny.

Wandymar Burgos, who took over the position a week ago, said the prudent thing to do was step down.

“I have my head held up my high,” she said in a letter. “All my actions have been motivated by my ethical and upstanding work style.”

The resignation comes a day after several top legislators who are members of the governor´s party threatened to vote against her nomination and demanded she resign, given her actions in recent days.

Burgos on Monday identified herself as the person who recalled six files about to be delivered to Puerto Rico´s Special Independent Prosecutor´s Panel for further investigation. One of the files names Gov. Wanda Vázquez, according to Dennise Longo, the island´s previous justice secretary who recommended that the case involving the alleged mismanagement of disaster supplies be further investigated. Longo was asked to resign on Friday.

Vázquez has denied she made that request out of alleged retribution, instead accusing Longo of improperly intervening in an unrelated federal investigation into alleged Medicaid fraud. Vázquez also said the investigation targeting her is rigged and vengeful and comes as she prepares for her party´s Aug. 9 gubernatorial primary. Vázquez had defended Burgos´ actions, saying that while they might seem unusual, they weren´t wrong or illegal.

FILE - In this July 29, 2015 file photo, the Puerto Rican flag flies in front of Puerto Rico's Capitol as in San Juan, Puerto Rico. A federal control board that oversees Puerto Rico's finances approved on Wednesday, July 1, 2020, a new budget that largely suspends austerity measures and government cuts for one year as the U.S. territory struggles to recover from hurricanes, earthquakes and the pandemic. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo, File)

FILE – In this July 29, 2015 file photo, the Puerto Rican flag flies in front of Puerto Rico’s Capitol as in San Juan, Puerto Rico. A federal control board that oversees Puerto Rico’s finances approved on Wednesday, July 1, 2020, a new budget that largely suspends austerity measures and government cuts for one year as the U.S. territory struggles to recover from hurricanes, earthquakes and the pandemic. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo, File)

 

However, Nydia Cotto, president of the Special Independent Prosecutor´s Panel, told The Associated Press that the agency had never seen that happen before.

Burgos said earlier this week that she requested the six files be returned to the island´s Department of Justice because she had just found out about them and needed to know what they were about.

Her explanation was questioned by legislators, including Puerto Rico Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz.

“It may have been inadvertent, or inexperience, or out of good faith, or whatever the reason, but the simple fact of suggesting that the files going toward the panel be returned at the very least raises doubts about the reasons behind it,” he told radio station Z-93 on Wednesday.

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Gun shipment to Trinidad and Tobago seized in Puerto Rico

http://www.guardian.co.tt/news/gun-shipment-to-tt-seized-in-puerto-rico-6.2.1152226.8399467ea6

Gun shipment to T&T seized in Puerto Rico

Tue Jul 07 2020
The guns and ammunition seized by members of the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in Puerto Rico which were bound for Trinidad and Tobago last week.

The guns and ammunition seized by members of the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in Puerto Rico which were bound for Trinidad and Tobago last week.

Courtesy US Customs and Border Protection

Rhondor Dowlat-Rostant

A cache of semi-automatic weapons and pistol magazines destined for T&T was discovered stashed away in a toolbox, by officials of the United States Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) last Wednesday in Puerto Rico.

According to a release posted on the USCBP website on Monday, the toolbox was sent via air courier from Tennessee to Port of Spain, Trinidad. The toolbox contained six semi-automatic pistols and nine pistol magazines.

Carlos Nieves, Port Director in Mayaguez-Aguadilla, in the release, noted that “The exportation of firearms requires a license in compliance with US Export Control regulations”.

“CBP officers enforce US import and export regulations to ensure that products entering the supply chain respect international trade agreements.”

The release added that on July 1, CBP officers inspected outbound parcels at the Rafael Hernandez International Airport and was alerted by a USCBP K-9 to a box manifested as “Gift Shipment” with $100 customs value declared.

“A more intrusive inspection revealed that the toolbox had six semiautomatic pistols and nine pistol magazines,” it stated.

“Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) took custody of the weapons for further investigation,” it added.

Police sources told Guardian Media that usually when findings such as this occur the Interpol is called in for tracing of addresses both of the recipient and sender.

However, when asked about the latest discovery and if he was contacted on it, Commissioner of Police, Gary Griffith, did not confirm or deny.

Recently, during a media conference Griffith, however, disclosed that according to intelligence received illegal arms and ammunition have been penetrating T&T’s borders through legal ports of entries. He added that because of such intelligence his officers are needed to carry out thorough inspections of containers and barrels before leaving the respective ports.

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) administers U.S. laws, regulations and policies governing the export and re-export of commodities, software, and technology (collectively “items”) falling under the jurisdiction of the Export Administration Regulations (EAR).

USCBP works with the BIS to implement and enforce the EAR, which regulates the export, re-export, and transfer (in-country) of items with commercial uses that can also be used in conventional arms, weapons of mass destruction, terrorist activities, or human rights abuses, and less sensitive military items.

With more than 60,000 employees, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, USCBP, is one of the world’s largest law enforcement organisations and is charged with keeping terrorists and their weapons out of the U.S. while facilitating lawful international travel and trade.

As the United States’ first unified border entity, USCBP takes a comprehensive approach to border management and control, combining customs, immigration, border security, and agricultural protection into one coordinated and supportive activity.

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Puerto Rico residents go without water every 24 hours in drought during pandemic. Why are the citizens having to face this issue all over again?

This is not a new problem.  There was widespread water rationing in 2015 with TWO days of no water, then ONE day of water.   Where is the leadership in dredging the reservoirs so that they can hold more water?  This should have been resolved years ago.   Too much corruption and political favoritism instead of focusing on solving problems that improve daily life issues for the citizens of Puerto Rico.  Problems like this in terms of basic life issues being mismanaged encourages more people to move to the states where water rationing is extremely rare.  What happened to the slogan, “Puerto Rico does it better?”   If the government can’t get the water issue correct, an island SURROUNDED BY WATER, then that speaks negatively to the administration and governance by politicians.

We need strong, wise leadership to fix the basic issues:

1 Reliable clean water without frequent outages or rationing.  Get our reservoirs dredged and reduce the reported 60% water leakage rate.  60% is losing more than the people are using!

2 Reliable electricity without frequent outages

3 Effective DMV/DTOP services, not having to wait in line all day for routine services that take less than 1 hour in the states.  When will PR have online renewal of driver’s licenses?

4 Reliable roads, not filled with potholes or excessively sunken grates.  UPR Mayaguez produces an abundance of engineers yet vehicles in PR all too often have to drive over numerous sunken grates that are not more flush with the road, and into or around potholes.  This creates accidents and needless wear and tear on the car, forcing people to spend more on car repairs due to low quality, problematic roads.

5 Improve the public schools in educating our children instead of having so many schools with students who have horrible test scores.

6 End the Jones Act which is an indirect hidden tax by inflating the price of products shipped to PR

7  Encourage policies that create good high paying jobs instead of pushing more people onto welfare.  Make it easier for employers to open and run their businesses by streamlining processes and regulations.  Whether PR becomes a state, remains a territory, or gains full independence, a successful population is more self-sufficient and independent, not surviving on generational handouts.  Without good job opportunities, people will continue moving to the states.  Encourage and incentivize entrepreneurs, business owners, and investors who create these jobs.

https://abcnews.go.com/International/puerto-rico-residents-water-24-hours-amid-drought/story?id=71546489

Puerto Rico residents go without water every 24 hours in drought during pandemic

Some are concerned intermittent water makes it hard to follow safety guidelines.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Puerto Rico is not only enduring a health crisis but also a worsening drought, forcing tens of thousands to go without running water every 24 hours.

For nearly a week now, more than 140,000 residents, including some in the island’s capital of San Juan, have been experiencing an intermittent water supply. On Monday, Puerto Rico’s Governor Wanda Vázquez declared a state of emergency in the wake of the drought.

The drought warning is especially dire during the coronavirus pandemic as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is encouraging everyone to wash their hands frequently to stop the spread of COVID-19 as cases continue to surge across the United States.

Jessica A. González Sampayo, a 26-year-old resident of Hato Rey, in San Juan, told ABC News that she believes the outages pose an additional threat in the wake of a health crisis and makes it even more difficult to follow safety guidelines. She said that her ability to clean her home and shower are extremely limited considering the lack of water.

“It’s been really hard and frustrating .. because we’re in a pandemic. I understand we’re in a drought, but damn,” Sampayo told ABC News.

Considering Puerto Rico’s utilities company has urged residents not to stockpile water, Sampayo said that purchasing water at the store is also limited.

Sampayo works full time at a nonprofit organization and said that she has to adjust her bustling work schedule to align with her running water. When the water does come back on, it’s inconsistent and often returns hours after the designated time frame, she said.

“The day that you’re supposed to have the 24 hours, you really don’t have the 24 hours, which is stupid. I really don’t understand,” Sampayo said.

Sampayo, who has one roommate, said that although she’s grateful that her family — who lives nearby — is still healthy in wake of the pandemic, she is still concerned about her 93-year-old grandmother, who is at high-risk of infection and her mother, who has diabetes.

“You can’t wash your hands as much as you want … it’s crazy, and it’s horrible,” Sampayo said.

Puerto Rico has over 2,100 coronavirus confirmed cases, 6,500 possible infections and at least 159 deaths, according to the island’s health department. And while Gov. Vázquez, who was one the first governors across the country to issue a stay-at-home order and has been praised by experts for her potentially life-saving decisions, Puerto Rico has still become one of the hardest hit regions economically across the nation.

Adding to the devastation: The island has been rocked by over 9,000 tremors within the last six months, according to a meteorologist’s summary. This includes two strong earthquakes that shook Puerto Rico last Friday. The quakes — including a series in January that left several buildings damaged and thousands homeless — all come as the island continues to reel from the impact of deadly Hurricane Maria that hit in 2017.

 

Posted in incompetence and mismanagement, Puerto Rico necessary improvements, utility issues - power, water, phone, internet, solar, etc | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tell Congress that Puerto Ricans want nationhood, not statehood

 

https://thehill.com/opinion/international/506029-tell-congress-that-puerto-ricans-want-nationhood-not-statehood

Tell Congress that Puerto Ricans want nationhood, not statehood

Tell Congress that Puerto Ricans want nationhood, not statehood
© Getty Images

For Puerto Ricans who support self-determination, it is truly mind-blowing that some Democrats have the audacity to offer statehood as a solution on the question of Puerto Rico’s political status. At a time when Congress cannot come to grips with its responsibility to decolonize Puerto Rico — let alone guarantee a process of negotiation — support for statehood becomes suspicious at best, seeming way too much like political opportunism. The disconnect between the Puerto Rican reality and pro-statehood declarations is dismaying.

Ill-informed support for statehood is based on several myths:

Puerto Ricans are Americans: False. The Puerto Rican national identity remains an ethnic identification of peoples without a national citizenship of their own who live in a territory they call “their country.” This does not obscure the reality that Puerto Rico constitutes a nation, which has had a colonial relation with the United States since 1898. Ambiguities were created by Public Law 600 and by the portrayal in 1953 at the United Nations of the Commonwealth as “a compact” between both nations. As the Harvard Law Review clearly stated in 2017: “Puerto Rico’s heart is not American. It is Puerto Rican.”

Puerto Ricans in the U.S. have struggled for civil rights, but the political, societal and constitutional reality of Puerto Rico is altogether another issue. You cannot erase a nationhood by overlooking its existence and assume that “Puerto Ricans are Americans.” Such statements constitute a classic strategy of assimilation that negates Puerto Rico’s right to exist.

Most Puerto Ricans support statehood: False. Puerto Ricans have rejected statehood in five plebiscites held since 1968. The 2017 plebiscite was boycotted by all anti-statehood Puerto Rican parties, resulting in statehood receiving 97 percent support, with only 23 percent of registered voters’ participation. The 2012 plebiscite, so far the only one held the same day as local elections, was boycotted by one of the major political parties, resulting in an avalanche of blank votes, pro-independence and pro-Free Association, which outnumbered pro-statehood votes. Statehood persistently has lost support since the 1993 plebiscite (788,296 votes in 1993; 728,157 votes in 1998; 834,191 in 2012, and 502,801 in 2017). 

While in power, pro-statehood administrations have corrupted the Puerto Rican government to the point of its collapse, making this faction incapable of leading any future political project. In summer 2019, the pro-statehood governor Ricardo Rossello was ousted

Civil rights in the U.S. are not being addressed by making Puerto Rico a state. As an unincorporated territory, Puerto Rico has a different constitutional reality, and its urgency is not related to civil rights but rather to our human right to decolonization. Since 1998, the only political option gaining support is Free Association, a negotiated compact in which both countries become freely associated.

Puerto Rico is not a country: False. The Foraker Act, the first law passed in Congress concerning Puerto Rico, stated that Puerto Ricans “shall be deemed and held to be citizens of Porto (sic) Rico.” Fifty years later, Public Law 600 recognized Puerto Ricans as “peoples.” In 1953, in a push to get international recognition for the Commonwealth as a pact between the U.S. and Puerto Rico “forming a political association, which respects the individuality and the cultural characteristics of Puerto Rico [and] maintains the spiritual bonds between Puerto Rico and Latin America,” the United States pursued Resolution 748 at the U.N. General Assembly, allowing the U.S. to cease delivering annual reports on Puerto Rico’s colonial status.

Our nationhood has withstood all attempts to be assimilated. Puerto Ricans refer to Puerto Rico as “el País” (the country). Puerto Ricans are a nation, and its people are in Puerto Rico and in its global diaspora. We are not American expats living in Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico is a domestic issue: Partially true. Puerto Rico is a domestic issue as much as it is an international issue. The U.S. took over Puerto Rico through invasion, bilateral negotiation, and a peace protocol, normalizing the relationship through Supreme Court decisions known as the Insular Cases. The U.S. scored a diplomatic victory with U.N. approval of Resolution 748. Even though Puerto Ricans at the time already were U.S. citizens, and even if the country’s political fate was thought to have been sealed, Puerto Rico today again faces the important issue of sovereignty.

Furthermore, the persistent federal mismanagement of the humanitarian crisis following the 2017 hurricanes will continue to be an international issue, as economic, political and social conditions deteriorate. Puerto Rico is a pending international issue with multilateral repercussions.

Puerto Rico has no option but statehood: False. Puerto Rico’s status question can be resolved with strong bipartisan commitment. Inspired by its anti-colonial foundational spirit, guided by its experience with the freely associated republics in the Pacific, and in compliance with international law, the United States has available political options that Puerto Ricans would be ready to discuss. In fact, many Puerto Rican professionals agree that negotiating a compact of Free Association with the United States is the correct mechanism for finding a reasonable political solution to this issue.

Congress will serve the cause of Puerto Rico and the United States by understanding and accepting that Puerto Rico needs decolonization, through a process of dialogue and negotiation. Statehood goes against U.S. political and economic interests, and actually never has been on the negotiating table. Sovereignty serves the interests of both countries, and currently is Puerto Rico’s only feasible solution for decolonization and economic development.

Julio Ortiz Luquis, Ph.D., is a policy consultant on international relations and professor of global politics, Latin American studies and Latinx politics for City University of New York and Pace University. 

Javier A. Hernández is a Puerto Rican writer, diaspora activist, small business owner and former federal officer based in New Jersey. He is the author of “PREXIT: Forging Puerto Rico’s Path to Sovereignty.” 

FROM THE COMMENTS:

Spain lost a war to us, but definitely got the better end of the deal by dumping PR on us.

The US turned Puerto Rico into a basket case, I am sure that if the US invades Canary Islands in less than 50 years it will turn this beautiful overseas spanish province into a welfare debt-ridden basket case also.

If PR became a independent nation, within 6 months it would rival Haiti for the biggest shathole in the Caribbean.

Yes! Puerto Rico is bankrupt with $120 billion in bond obligations and unfunded pensions. They only voted for statehood when they wanted a bailout from the federal government. Half the country lives in poverty, and any talent fled the country.

Puerto Rico is financial millstone that deserves its independence.

 

an independent PR means they can set their own labor laws/wages that will allow them to be more competitive with nearby islands

If Puerto Rico becomes a “nation”, it will become Haiti….

Nah, more of a Jamaica.

You would be surprised how long recovery takes when the utility grid and surface transportation networks have been destroyed.
Of course, having Puerto Rico’s grossly inept corrupt government doesn’t help much.

 

 

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Violence Breaks Out As Puerto Rico’s Unemployment System Breaks Down

Why waste $217,204.11 or $7000 per day to rent the convention center when San Juan’s mayor offered 3 other facilities to use for free?  Why waste taxpayer money?

Violence Breaks Out As Puerto Rico’s Unemployment System Breaks Down

Violence Breaks Out As Puerto Rico’s Unemployment System Breaks Down

Unemployment Violence Puerto Rico Drop-in and in-person services are available in Centro de Convenciones in Miramar, where they’re at the expense of long lines every day.Image Courtesy of Pablo Ortiz

The stabbing of a man and threats to employees have forced the department to change its claim-filing process amid its secretary’s resignation.

San Juan — The Puerto Rico Department of Labor and Human Resources (DTRH by its Spanish initials) announced Tuesday a change of logistics in the filing of unemployment benefits after several violent events were reported, as frustration among people trying to file for unemployment benefits arises.

These incidents are the most recent setbacks faced by the agency in providing disbursements to the unemployed. The situation has escalated with the resignation of the Department of Labor Secretary Briseida Torres early Tuesday afternoon due to “personal reasons,” according to Primera Hora newspaper.

Governor Wanda Vázquez, named lawyer, Carlos Rivera Santiago, in the position, Tuesday afternoon.

On Monday, a man reportedly threatened to kill employees at the DTRH headquarters when he went to claim his unemployment money. At the Miramar facility, police tended to moments of tension during the afternoon, when people found out they would not be served after waiting long hours in line. On Friday, a father and son stabbed a man when he accidentally hit their car in the drop-in service line.

On June 1, the agency expanded its services to the Centro de Convenciones in Miramar, taking into account how its headquarters in Hato Rey could not handle the large volume of applicants. Drop-in and in-person services are available there at the expense of long lines every day.

On Tuesday, the DTRH announced a new system where people will be served by appointment in the Centro de Convenciones facility.

Torres explained Tuesday morning people who have to drop in documents can still do so, while those seeking other services must make an appointment.

“The demand for direct services is evident, and with the easing of operations at both private and government levels, it is time for our offices to begin serving the public in an orderly manner and guarantee the safety and health of visitors and employees. In order to do this, people with pending matters will be summoned initially by telephone using the date of their initial claim as the main reference, so that matters pending the longest can be resolved first,” said Torres.

The response to the emergency has been much criticized, as thousands of people haven’t been able to claim unemployment benefits, according to reports.

The malfunctioning of the agency’s online and telephone services has forced people to file claims in person despite social-distancing restrictions.

According to DTRH reports, 257,358 people have received regular unemployment benefits and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PUEC) for a total of $1,170,113,953.10. This reimbursement was made from April 1 through June 4.

The applications of thousands of people were declared ineligible to receive unemployment benefits. DTRH referred those cases to PUEC compensation. On May 12, the agency reported that 52,156 applications were ineligible.

There are several reasons for people to become ineligible. For example, according to the records of some of them, they are receiving the money of their vacation or paid time off from their previous employer.

That’s the case of Christian Carrasquillo who told El Vocero, he tried many times by phone to prove he spent all his vacation days but was not able to communicate or get a response from the DTRH.

“I told them that I have vacation hours reflected in the system – which have not yet been removed and is still in force — and now I have to simply send them the evidence of how long my vacation lasted and so they can help me,” said Carrasquillo, who hasn’t received a check since April.

On Sunday, some applicants waited overnight in violation of the curfew to get one of the 300 turns parceled out for daily service.

From Bad to Worse

According to the economic consulting firm, Inteligencia Económica, the pandemic will have an economic impact of $10,000 million in the island. = $10 Billion

This situation will worsen the recession in which the island has been for a decade. Another exodus is expected after hurricane Maria’s cause the first in 2017 and the recent earthquakes another one in January.

Inteligencia Económica estimates 300,000 Puerto Ricans would leave the island between 2020 to 2022, in spite of the pre-coronavirus economic crisis.

Controversial Rent

The high cost of renting the Centro de Convenciones — used as the drop-in temporary headquarters for the DTRH — has generated discomfort within Puerto Rico’s citizens in light of the economic situation of the island.

According to the Metro newspaper, the DTRH pays more than $7,000 daily for the use of the facility.

The Labor Department will pay a total of $217,204.11 for the use of the Centro in June, as established in a contract.

Last Thursday, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz said during a press conference she offered three locations for the DTRH to use free of charge.

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Puerto Rico Faces Worst COVID Spike in 3 Months, as published 7-6-20

Puerto Rico Faces Worst COVID Spike in 3 Months

Puerto Rico Faces Worst COVID Spike in 3 Months

Virus Outbreak Puerto Rico Last weekend, during the July 4 holiday, beaches, malls, and restaurants were crowded. Many people chose outdoor activities despite recommendations.Image via AP Photo/Carlos Giusti


Juan Carlos Reyes, epidemiologist, and member of the local coronavirus Medical Task Force said in an interview with WSKN-AM that the reopening of the island happened too soon after the coronavirus emergency which started in mid-March. Many businesses reopened almost three weeks ago.

“I understand that the reopening was hasty. We in the task force had specified which spaces were not recommended for reopening,” said Reyes.

The epidemiologist reminisced how the task force did not support the reopening of movie theaters, restaurants, and churches.

Reyes said the increase in cases had been noticed prior to this past weekend. An average of 27 cases was reported daily, Reyes specified.

“As of today, the number has exploded to approximately 200 cases. Clearly, we are having another spike. After the scenario this weekend, we will see more changes in about a week and a half,” he said.

Daniel Colón-Ramos, professor of cellular neuroscience at Yale University, said the situation is worrisome, as this is the most significant uptick in numbers since the lockdown started on May 16. He argues that instead of a spike, this could be considered an upward trajectory in numbers.

Scientist Danilo Pérez Rivera, from the Puerto Rico Coalición de Sabiduría Coronavirus (COSACO by its Spanish initials), coincides with Colón-Ramos’ approach. As he sees it, the island is having real pandemic activity at the moment, on a trajectory for a second spike.

“This is just the beginning. The July 4 holiday just ended. People could have been affected this weekend by those who may have been infected before and are finding out now. The panorama for the island is not good,” Pérez warned.

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UPDATED: This Map Shows Where and Who Coronavirus Has Hit the Hardest This Week in PR, as published July 5, 2020

The bigger more congested areas have the most cases, as is typical throughout most of the world.

UPDATED: This Map Shows Where and Who Coronavirus Has Hit the Hardest This Week in PR

UPDATED: This Map Shows Where and Who Coronavirus Has Hit the Hardest This Week in PR

Puerto-Rico-Map_PR1-June5-2 On the local dashboard reporting pandemic data, there are 89 people hospitalized due to the virus. Nine patients are in intensive care.  Graphic via Desirée Tapia for The Americano

Local scientists question the accuracy of a John Hopkins report that places the island at the top of a ranking of positive COVID-19 test rates for the entire U.S.

SAN JUAN — In a recent John Hopkins University report, Puerto Rico came out at the top of a chart of states and jurisdictions with above-recommended rates of positive test results for COVID-19.

According to the report, the island scored a rate of 100% in positive results for coronavirus, out of all the tests that were conducted. This percentage is far beyond Arizona’s 24.02%, which follows right after Puerto Rico in the ranking.

Puerto Rico’s scientific community is saying that the information contained in the report is inaccurate because it does not take into account some important factors.

Danilo Pérez Rivera, a scientist from Puerto Rico’s Coalición de Sabiduría Coronavirus (COSACO by its Spanish initials), points out that data aggregators like @COVID19Tracking, as well as reports from analysts, are basing their conclusions on incomplete data.

“It all comes back to the same conclusion: they’re using case data based on report dates rather than sample dates,” Pérez told The Americano.

“They’re also ignoring data from the local health department and the Puerto Rico Public Health Trust. Both are reporting on total test counts which are separate from the daily reports,” the researcher explains.

For this same reason, Pérez disagrees with an article published by The Washington Post that places the island—alongside 14 states—as one of the places experiencing the highest seven-day averages after reopening in mid-June.

As of Thursday, the Puerto Rico Health Department reported 1,767 confirmed cases and 5,841 possible cases. The death toll hasn’t changed in the past four days, with a total of 153. Of those deaths, 59 are confirmed coronavirus deaths, and 94 are deaths by symptoms similar to COVID-19 infection.

The island entered a new phase of reopening this week. Last Wednesday, places like casinos, cemeteries, and concert halls were allowed to open. Restaurants were able to offer indoor dining at 75% capacity.

The increase in hospitalizations was at a constant last week. Last Monday, there were 104 people hospitalized with COVID-19, while on Thursday there were 97.

Positive cases have also increased during the past two weeks, coinciding with a wider reopening.

Pérez highlights the importance of having more reliable data in making important decisions.

“We need better resolution in the data. For the time being, we have an active population, a number of people in the hospital right now, but it is unclear if we have a higher rate of new cases, or a slower rate of cases leaving the hospital, causing the recent variations we are observing,” he explains.

“From a purely numerical standpoint, there isn’t much a difference from where we stood since May 21,” adds Pérez.

Outbreaks in the municipalities of Ciales, Canóvanas, San Germán, and Guayanilla, presumably caused by families gatherings, which might have included people visiting from the U.S., prompted the local government to evaluate measures dealing with air travel.

Outbursts in cities with large numbers of Puerto Rican residents, mostly in Florida and Texas, are also a consideration.

On Wednesday, Governor Wanda Vázquez announced the new safety measures to be implemented from July 15 onward.

At that point, every traveler will be required to use a mask upon arrival and during their stay on the island.

It will also be compulsory for every air traveler to bring negative molecular test results from a period of no more than 72 hours before arrival on the island.

If a passenger lacks these test results, they must be tested at the airport. If the passenger tests positive, they will have to remain on quarantine for 14 days.

Visitors will be required to fill a form on the Health Department website to provide personal information and the address where they will be staying in Puerto Rico, among other details.

Mapping out the 1,767, official cases as of July 2

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