Jurisdiction Over the Agreement that Would Control the San Juan Docks in a Limbo

The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) is evaluating different alternatives to obtain more information about the agreement between two of the main companies that operate at the Puerto Nuevo, San Juan, cargo pier. However, the chairman of the federal entity, Michael A. Khouri, warned Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced that if, as it seems, the transaction is actually a merger of companies or a purchase of assets, the FMC may not have the authority to stop the agreement between Luis Ayala Colón (LAC), the company responsible for loading and unloading international ships at the Puerto Nuevo pier, and Puerto Rico Terminals, a subsidiary of Tote Maritime, the second-largest company that operates the domestic cargo terminals in the Port of San Juan. The FMC’s concern over service being affected and that freight costs to and from Puerto Rico would be increased was expressed by Khouri in a letter he sent to Vázquez on Oct. 1. The “Commission will insist on enhanced monitoring with extensive disclosure of business and marketplace information.

Mitigation Plans for Coastal Municipalities Do Not Include Dealing with Sargassum

Although the algae represent a health and economic problem for citizens and the tourism industry, concern over it still does not show on the radar of municipalities and agencies as an issue to be addressed. The awareness that the governments of coastal municipalities and the central government have about sargassum and the challenges that this marine species present to communities, ecosystems and businesses has not been enough to integrate how it will be managed in the mitigation plans prepared by the Puerto Rico Planning Board (JP in Spanish), and the 78 municipalities. After hurricanes Irma and María in September 2017, the Central Office of Recovery, Reconstruction and Resiliency, known as COR3, asked the JP to update each municipality’s mitigation plans. For that task, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approved an allocation to the JP of $3,128,916, which was increased in July 2019 to $5,396,144. With hose funds the JP hired   Atkins Caribe, LLC as an external consultant to update the municipal mitigation plans.

A Guide to Understanding the Bureaucracy of “Recovery” in Puerto Rico

When the wind slowed down on September 20, 2017, Puerto Ricans went outside their homes, walked through their neighborhoods, made their way through the rubble and began to account for their losses. Estimates in dollars and cents of what Hurricane María destroyed would take a while. A generalized sense of uncertainty and doom was everywhere. A day later, while then governor Ricardo Rosselló assessed the conditions in which the island was left, Cándida González, a linguist, went to see what remained of the house that her first son’s father had built more than 30 years ago, and found it destroyed. On the eastern part of the island, Josué Ruiz, a university student and part-time employee, was traveling from his father-in-law’s house in Las Piedras to Punta Santiago, in Humacao, on the eastern side of the island where he lives with his wife, Natalie Torres, and their three children.

The pillage of public funds in Puerto Rico going on behind the chat

Elías Sánchez, Carlos Bermúdez and Edwin Miranda have generated millions through their businesses and have decided much of what has happened in the government in terms of hiring, firing and public projection since Rosselló-Nevares took office in January 2017, the sources agree. In Sánchez’s case, there are also inappropriate and illegal interventions with cabinet secretaries.

The 889 Pages of the Telegram Chat between Rosselló Nevares and His Closest Aides

Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló Nevares and his closest advisers, or “brothers” as he refers to them, did political campaign work during regular hours and used public resources, shows a Telegram group chat in which members discussed, among other things, how to control the political narrative through the island’s social media and press. The 889 pages conversation, which went on from late 2018 to Jan. 20, 2019, also reveal a fixation on political polls, some of which were manipulated to advance the public image of Gov. Rosselló Nevares and his administration. Chat members, moreover, made numerous sexual and misogynistic jokes, mocked journalists, activist groups and politicians of all parties, namely San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz and fiscal control board officials such as its chairman, José Carrión, and its executive director, Natalie Jaresko, among many others. These are only some of the conclusions that emerge from 889 pages of a Telegram group chat, parts of which were leaked last month.

Communities have waited for a decade for CDBG-DR funds projects

It was raining almost non-stop for 11 days over Puerto Rico’s southern and southwestern towns. A surge of water flooded near 50 residences in the Parcelas Pole Ojea in Llanos Costa neighborhood, in Cabo Rojo. This was in 2008. But the flood mitigation project for which the U.S. Department of Housing allocated $3,093,000 through the CDBG-DR funds, has not yet been completed in 2019. Elba Ledesma, a dressmaker whose house is next to the baseball park, still keeps the pictures that show that the water reached her waist and covered her car up to the windows.

Historical heritage threatened by post-María recovery process

She was sitting on the stairs of what had been her residence for almost four decades holding a photo album of the impressive historic mansion built in 1910 on the grounds of the Central Aguirre Sugar Mill in Salinas. Now there is only debris and some walls. There is no roof, no trace of the kitchen nor the living room. Some windows protect the main corridor. There is no furniture either.

The lobbyists who promoted Opportunity Zones for Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico’s Resident Commissioner in Washington, Jenniffer González, is like the godmother of the Opportunity Zones in U.S. Congress. She claims as her achievement that the island was included in said investors’ exemption program, which is part of President Donald Trump’s tax reform. While states can only designate 25% of their census areas below the poverty level as an Opportunity Zone, “almost 94%” of Puerto Rico was designated as that category, according to the Commissioner. González was not alone in her endeavor. There were other players in Congress promoting the Opportunity Zones for the island.