Tag Archives: Puerto Rico

As Rosselló Resigns, Renewed Protests Demand ‘Real and Radical Change’ Instead of Continued Austerity and Corruption

“We didn’t demand the resignation of a corrupted government, for having another equally corrupted. We are demanding a real alternative.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-3-2019

Stepping down after mass protests over alleged corruption and leaked messages in which he denigrated women and LGBTQ people, Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Rossello appointed his secretary of state to succeed him—but elation over the success of the recent protests gave way to more demonstrations against the new governor.

Hundreds of Puerto Ricans marched to the governor’s mansion Friday night, decrying the appointment of Gov. Pedro Pierluisi as an illegitimate continuation of Rossello’s policies. Continue reading

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Police Fire Tear Gas and Rubber Bullets at Protesters Demanding Puerto Rico Gov. Rosselló Resign

“We are rising up because we deserve better.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-18-2019

Photo: @beowulf_cr/Twitter

Police deployed tear gas and fired rubber bullets at protesters in Puerto Rico’s capital city of San Juan late Wednesday on the fifth consecutive day of mass demonstrations to demand the resignation of Gov. Ricardo Rosselló.

The Miami Herald reported from the scene as hundreds of protesters and police faced off on the colonial streets outside La Fortaleza—the governor’s mansion—in the neighborhood of Old San Juan. Continue reading

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‘Simple Laws of Economics’ Doom Remaining US Coal Plants as Solar and Wind Are Now Cheaper for American Households

“America has officially entered the ‘coal cost crossover.'”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 3-25-2019

A new study based on data from the Energy Information Agency found that coal plants are now far more expensive to run than wind and solar power projects. (Photo: reynermedia/flickr/cc)

In propping up the coal industry, the Trump administration is not only contributing to dangerous pollution, fossil fuel emissions, and the climate crisis, it is also now clinging to a far more expensive energy production model than renewable energy offers.

That’s according to a new report from renewable energy analysis firm Energy Innovation, showing that about three-quarters of power produced by the nation’s remaining coal plants is more expensive for American households than renewables including wind, solar, and hydro power. Continue reading

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Trump Reportedly Wants to Cut Off Federal Relief Funds to Puerto Rico Despite Post-Maria Devastation

The president claims, with no evidence, that local officials want to use recovery money to pay down the U.S. territory’s sizeable debt

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 11-12-2018

President Donald Trump reportedly wants to cut off federal relief funding to Puerto Rico even though much of the island is still devastated by Hurricane Maria, which hit the isalnd in September of 2017. (Chris Grogan/Air Force Magazine/Flickr)

Although it has been more than a year since Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico, in parts of the U.S. territory, “it’s like the hurricane hit yesterday“—yet President Donald Trump wants to cut off recovery money, according to Axios, “because he claims, without evidence, that the island’s government is using federal disaster relief money to pay off debt.”

The unfounded claims about federal funds being misappropriated come from Trump’s misreading of an October Wall Street Journal article, multiple unnamed sources told Axios‘ Jonathan Swan. Continue reading

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Poverty Rampant, Puerto Rico Destroyed, Single Payer “Too Expensive,” and Flint Still Doesn’t Have Clean Water. But You Can Have Space Force!

Trump channels Jim Crow era in announcing more militarized space

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-18-2018

Photo: Nerdiest

President Donald Trump made the demand for more weapons sound not only ridiculous but also implicitly racist on Monday when he announced a new branch of the military—Space Force.

Speaking at a White House meeting of the National Space Council, Trump declared, “My administration is reclaiming America’s heritage as the world’s greatest space-faring nation,” and said he urged his “administration to embrace the budding commercial space industry.” Continue reading

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San Juan Mayor Says Trump’s “Total Neglect’ of Puerto Rico Must Be Called Out

“The United Nations says that when people are denied the access to basic human services—like electric power, like water, like food, like appropriate medical care—it is like a violation of human rights.”

Rally for Puerto Rico hurricane relief at the Capitol. Screenshot: YouTube

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-4-2018

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz tore into the Trump administration’s response to the ongoing catastrophe on Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria and denounced the president’s “total neglect.”

Her comments to MSNBC on Sunday follow a Harvard study estimating that the death toll as a result of the storm was in the range of 793 to 8,498 and deeming the original official estimate of 64 excess deaths “a substantial underestimate.” Continue reading

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Police Unleash ‘Brutal Attacks’ on Austerity Protesters in Storm-Ravaged Puerto Rico

While “inhumane and strikingly antidemocratic” budget cuts are imposed on the U.S. territory, outrage after law enforcement used tear gas and rubber bullets to break up May Day demonstrations

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-2-2018

Police in Puerto Rico use tear gas on a May Day protester on May 1, 2018. (Photo: @JessedHagopian/Twitter)

Police in Puerto Rico deployed tear gas and fired rubber bullets to shut down May Day protests as thousands of people took to the streets of the U.S. territory, which is still battling the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria—and a debt crisis that preceded the storm.

While people worldwide demonstrated Tuesday to demand improved labor conditions on International Workers Day, Puerto Ricans also turned out to protest the Trump administration’s failed response to the humanitarian crisis that followed the hurricane as well as austerity measures imposed by the federal government both before and after the storm struck last September. Continue reading

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Instability Mounts in Puerto Rico Amid Privatization Efforts and Power Authority’s Cash Shortfall

“If this is not disaster economics and this is not setting the stage for commercialization of services that are there to promote equality, I don’t know what is.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 2-19-2018

Many rural areas in Puerto Rico remain without power, and San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz said Monday that privatization has directly resulted in delays to restoration. (Photo: Western Area Power/Flickr/cc)

As nearly 250,000 Puerto Ricans remain without power five months after Hurricane Maria struck the island territory—the longest blackout in U.S. history—the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) said Sunday it will reduce its operating reserve to save money, as the island’s government moves toward privatizing the authority.

A federal judge denied PREPA a $1 billion loan over the weekend, saying the authority could not prove it needed the additional cash injection. The company will now reduce its reserve by 450 megawatts, saving $9 million per month but likely resulting in more power outages. Continue reading

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‘Can You Say Corruption?’ Puerto Rico Contract for Trump-Connected Raises Concerns

Tiny company financed by a major donor to the Trump campaign and the Republican Party awarded no-bid contract to rebuild energy grid

By Julia Conley, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 10-24-2017

Puerto Rico’s electricity utility, PREPA, offered a $300 million contract to a small private firm to repair its power grid. Whitefish Energy is funded by a major Trump donor. (Photo: Whitefish Energy/Twitter)

Critics raised suspicions on Tuesday over a $300 million no-bid contract that was awarded to a small, two-year-old private energy company to restore Puerto Rico’s electrical grid. The company is financed by a major donor to the Trump campaign and the Republican Party, and also has connections to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

Whitefish Energy, based in Whitefish, Montana, had only two full-time employees when Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico over a month ago, leaving about 75 percent of the island still without power.

State utilities on the U.S. mainland have helped power authorities like Puerto Rico’s recover quickly from disasters like Maria in the past through mutual aid agreements, leaving many to wonder why Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) would rely on a company that has no experience with extensive restoration projects.

“The fact that there are so many utilities with experience in this and a huge track record of helping each other out, it is at least odd why PREPA would go to Whitefish,” said Susan F. Tierney, a former Energy Department official, in an interview with the Washington Post.

As the Daily Beast reported, Federal Election Commission filings show that the founder of the private equity firm that finances Whitefish Energy donated $20,000 to a pro-Trump PAC during the 2016 election as well as more than $30,000 to the Republican National Committee.

The company is also run by a contact of Zinke’s—Andy Techmanski—who once hired the Interior Secretary’s son for a summer job. Zinke is from Whitefish, but his office told the Post that he only knows Techmanski because “everybody knows everybody” in the small town.

Whitefish has hired nearly 300 workers from across the country so far to help repair the infrastructure. According to Aaron C. Davis, investigative reporter for the Post, the company is charging PREPA hundreds of dollars per hour for their subcontractors’ work, far more than average rates.

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‘People Are Dying’ But Trump Gives Himself Perfect ’10’ for Puerto Rico Response

“The lasting image of this administration may well be Puerto Ricans having to drink contaminated water from polluted streamswhile waiting for timely, appropriate federal aid.”

Written by Julia Conley, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 10-19-2017.

Image via Twitter.

Despite an estimated one million people still living without drinking water, 80 percent of the island wihout electricity, and fresh reports that people are “dying” on the island, President Donald Trump stirred outrage on Thursday by giving himself a perfect “ten” on his response to the crisis in Puerto Rico.

“The people in Puerto Rico are dying,” said National Nurses United (NNU) vice president Cathy Kennedy, who returned Wednesday from a two-week relief trip with the union’s Registered Nurses Response Network (RNRN). “Nurses have been going out into communities, where all they ask for is water and food. And when you have to make a decision of who’s going to get the food today or the water — we shouldn’t have to do that. The United States is the richest country in the world; Puerto Rico is part of the United States.”

Yet Trump told a different story about the recovery in the Oval Office on Thursday, speaking to reporters as Puerto Rican governor Ricardo Rossello looked on.

“I would give myself a ten,” he said. “We have provided so much, so fast.”

“Trump’s callous, self-appointed grade reflects everything that is wrong with the alleged relief effort in Puerto Rico,” Bonnie Castillo, director of National Nurses United’s Registered Nurse Response Network (RNRN), told Common Dreams via email.

The nurses who returned from the relief trip, she continued, “are horrified by the massive damage, dislocation, and trauma they have witnessed. It includes one million people living in darkness, many of them in homes with roofs blown off, soaked furniture, dangerous black mold growing everywhere, lengthy waits for food and water from FEMA that often never comes, a decimated transportation system, and hazardous materials abundant.”

About one million Puerto Ricans were still without drinking water as of Thursday. According to status.pr, a website that is maintained by Puerto Rican officials with daily updates on the recovery, 80 percent of the island was still without electricity as Trump was speaking. More than half of the island’s cell phone towers are still not working and more than 4,000 people are still living in shelters.

FEMA has distributed about 23 million liters of water throughout the island—accounting for only about nine percent of Puerto Rico’s drinking water needs. Forced to drink from rivers, many on the island are being exposed to harmful bacteria and toxic chemicals.

The president put Rossello on the spot after grading himself, asking, “Did we do a great job?” The governor declined to give him a rating. He carefully thanked the administration for sending relief, while emphasizing that the island needs the same efforts that were afforded to Texas after Hurricane Harvey. “We need equal treatment, we need all the resources we can get.”

According to Castillo, “the lasting image of this administration may well be Puerto Ricans having to drink contaminated water from polluted streams, putting their health in serious danger, while waiting for timely, appropriate federal aid to millions of U.S. citizens.”

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