Will LUMA Keep Its Prize?

On the other side of Ponce de León Ave., across from the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority’s (PREPA) headquarters in San Juan, Canadian executive Wayne Stensby sees the spray-painted messages against the company he runs: “Out with LUMA.” “No to privatization.”

The statements try to cover the posters that LUMA posted on an abandoned building in the Santurce neighborhood to counter its detractors: “Learn the facts.” “Know the truth.”

The company is running an aggressive advertising campaign in the media and on streets and avenues where PREPA employees flow. It won the contract to manage cables, poles, and the rest of the critical electricity transmission and distribution infrastructure in Puerto Rico

The Center for Investigative Journalism (CPI, in Spanish) discovered that while LUMA was competing to be picked, one of the companies in its consortium, Texas-based Quanta Services, lobbied before Congress and the Donald Trump White House on issues related to federal funds and power infrastructure repairs affected by Hurricanes Harvey and María, as well as to “PREPA”, as described in a general and imprecise manner in the reports to Congress. In 2019 and 2020, after the hurricanes that hit the Caribbean and the southeastern United States, Quanta Services made a strong lobbying bid before the federal government. The $120,000 it had invested in lobbyists in 2016, doubled to nearly $280,000 in 2019, according to congressional data compiled by Open Secrets. The CPI confronted Stensby with the fact that the request for proposals (RFP) to manage the power grid indicates that participants cannot lobby simultaneously on the same contract.

¿Se quedará LUMA con el botín?

Al cruzar la Avenida Ponce de León, frente a la oficina central de la Autoridad de Energía Eléctrica (AEE) en San Juan, el canadiense Wayne Stensby ve los mensajes con pintura de spray en oposición a la empresa que dirige: “Fuera LUMA”. “No a la privatización”. Las consignas intentan tachar los afiches que pegó LUMA en un edificio abandonado en el barrio de Santurce para contrarrestar a sus detractores: “Conoce los datos”. “Conoce la verdad”. La empresa lleva a cabo una agresiva campaña publicitaria en medios de circulación general y en las calles y avenidas por donde caminan los empleados de la AEE.

The Reasons for the Limited Number of Molecular Tests in Puerto Rico

Finding molecular tests that confirm a COVID-19 diagnosis in Puerto Rico is currently quite challenging, and the government restricts who has access to them. One of the reasons is the lack of materials such as reagents, the chemicals necessary to detect the coronavirus. “All reference labs have a need for reagents,” said Ilia Toledo, president of the Toledo Clinical Laboratory, one of the largest in Puerto Rico. In addition, the 200 members of the Association of Clinical Laboratories face problems getting swabs for sampling, its President Juan Rexach confirmed. The standard justification given for the lack of swabs, transport vials, and chemical reagents — all necessary to administer and process these tests — is fierce competition for these supplies throughout the U.S. and around the world.

Puerto Rico never set up an information network to gather data on COVID-19

For almost a decade, the government of Puerto Rico wasted the opportunity to put together an information network that would have provided real-time data to save lives during a pandemic, such as the one caused by COVID-19. When Secretary Lorenzo González left the position as head of the Department of Health (DH) in 2013, that project was in a very early stage. Upon returning to steer the DH in 2020, the agency was not only mired in corruption scandals and mismanagement of the response to the pandemic, but the Puerto Rico Health Information Network (PRHIN) was not operating. PRHIN would have allowed the electronic exchange of medical records among all health care providers, to better care for patients, and send real-time alerts to the DH to monitor any public health threat. The information network system, which has cost more than $ 7.7 million in federal funds, should have been ready six years ago.