An Airbnb boutique hotel: Opportunity Zones arrive in Old San Juan

The walk is led by Adrian Beales, an Australian sales director for Lifeafar, a company that offers real estate investment options for people from abroad. Behind him is a group of 20 investors. They left El Convento hotel on Cristo Street in Old San Juan after the second day of the 2019 Lifeafar Investors Conference: three days of talks — from April 23-25 — about the advantages of investing in Puerto Rico. At 4:30 p.m. they go down Luna Street toward San Francisco Street under a clear sky. Upon reaching Plaza Colón, they form a semicircle, some of them cover their face from the sun and contemplate building 405.

[FACT CHECK] Ricardo Rosselló: “Puerto Rico’s Economic Activity Index grew by 3% for the first time in 12 years.”

Gov. Ricardo Rosselló-Nevares said in his State of the Commonwealth address that “For the first time in 12 years, Puerto Rico’s Economic Activity Index grew 3%.”

La Fortaleza referred the inquiry to corroborate the data and for questions related to Rosselló-Nevares’ statement to the Economic Development Bank (EDB), after warning that the governor “offers the figures reported by his agency heads.”

EDB Economist Gladys Medina-Claudio said Puerto Rico’s Economic Activity Index did not show a monthly interannual growth of 3% since February 2004, nor did it reflect year-over-year growth of more than 3% since 1999. To reach that interannual rate, the value of a month of the year in question is compared with the value of the same month of the prior year. “It was not until 2018 that the values surpassed 3%. Now [in 2019] it reached 3.2%,” said Medina-Claudio. However, when asked how the 3.2% increase was calculated, the EDB economist answered that an average for 2018 was used and compared with the 2017 average.

Economic development scarce for P.R.’s micro and small entrepreneurs

“To avoid a headache,” Wilfredo Cubero hired a professional authorized by the Permit Management Office (PMO) to get the Use Permit for his business Piu Bello Gelato, located in Plaza del Sol mall in Bayamón. His biggest setback at the moment is that he still does not have the sanitary license required for all food businesses, because a Health Department inspector has yet to visit his place to do the mandatory inspection. Cubero submitted the application for the sanitary license on Oct. 23, 2018 and it was not until five months later that a Health Department inspector reached out to him for the inspection. At that time, the inspection could not be done because the area where the business is located in the shopping center was closed for remodeling.

Out-of-control Water Extraction in Haiti

While the State does nothing to solve access to drinking water for more than 1.5 million Haitians in the metropolitan area of ​​Port-au-Prince, private companies extract water from the main aquifer that supplies the region free of charge and uncontrollably. It’s water that does not pass through quality controls and is then sold to citizens at an inaccessible cost to many. This main source of drinking water, Cul-de-Sac, is contaminated. In Haiti, misgovernment, the lack of economic resources and abuse by companies come together in a fatal combination for a large part of the population that — for the most part lacks sanitary services or drinking water — becomes part of the vicious cycle of exploitation of the resource at a time when climate change extends the drought periods in the Caribbean, a joint investigation by the Center for Investigative Journalism and Le Nouvelliste revealed. The number of those lacking access to drinking water in the entire country is almost 6 million, which represents more than 40% of the population.

Poor Management of Water Sources Aggravates Impact of the Drought in the Caribbean

In the region, the smaller islands have limited freshwater natural resources and some use expensive and polluting desalination plants. Although the larger islands have abundant rivers and aquifers, their reserves have diminished. In addition, the rise of the sea level, associated with climate change, exposes aquifers to contamination due to saline intrusion.

HUD’s Inspector General is Auditing Part of the Disaster Funds for Puerto Rico

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of the Inspector General (HUD’s OIG) confirmed it is auditing the Community Development Block Grant–Disaster Recovery (CDBG–DR) Program funds granted to Puerto Rico after Hurricanes Irma and María. HUD Spokesman Darryl Madden told the Center for Investigative Journalism (CPI, for its initials in Spanish) that he could not offer more details because the process has just begun. Puerto Rico Housing Department Secretary, Fernando Gil-Enseñat, told the CPI that the audit began March 6 and it will oversee regular CDBG funds, as well as CDBG-DR funds. Housing Department Spokeswoman Leticia Jover, said so far, “about $1 billion in CDBG-DR funds have been alloted and they are in the competitive process,” or requests for proposals (RFP). No disbursements of CDBG-DR funds have been made yet for the different programs established in the Action Plan, she said.

Damage by coal ash to the southern aquifer cannot be undone

The most recent groundwater analysis shows that in little over a year, the chemicals detected in the aquifer under the mountain of coal ash at AES plant in Guayama — such as selenium, lithium and molybdenum — exceeded the maximum allowed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency by four to 14 times. The consumption of these three elements has been associated with skin inflammation, acute pain, vomiting, weakness, liver dysfunction and death from poisoning, according to the U.S. Department of Health’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. During the same period the concentration of heavy metals such as arsenic, multiplied by five   almost reaching the level of toxicity established by the EPA, while others, such as lead and cadmium, also showed significant increases. Considered by the World Health Organization (WHO) as one of the 10 most alarming chemical threats to public health, arsenic in water has carcinogenic effects, according to the WHO International Center for Cancer Research. Even in low doses, it can cause irritation to the stomach, lungs and intestines, and in the long term, growth problems, neurotoxicity, diabetes and pulmonary and cardiovascular diseases.