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Mayor of Vieques requests activation of the National Guard to transport urgent cargo

March 11, 2021

The mayor of Vieques, José "Junito" Corcino Acevedo, this morning asked Governor Pedro Pierluisi to activate the Puerto Rico National Guard with the purpose of using military barges to supplement the transportation of cargo to the island municipality that currently only has one cargo boat, which has a reduced load capacity.

“We understand that it is essential to immediately increase cargo transportation to the island municipality of Vieques. For this, it is necessary to activate the Puerto Rico National Guard, which has maritime cargo transportation platforms available at its operations center located in the old Roosevelt Roads naval base, in the municipality of Ceiba. That is why, through this letter, I express our request that you issue an executive order for the National Guard to design an aggressive plan of action with the purpose of beginning the use of its provisional cargo barges during the next few hours," the mayor stated.

“The reason for this letter is to request your help to assist our residents at this very difficult time, where products and fuel are scarce due to the breakdown of the El Isleño vessel, which has capacity for about 22 vehicles, including cargo and fuel trucks. . With El Isleño temporarily out of service, the Maritime Transportation Authority (ATM) has used the Mr. Mason vessel, which barely has capacity for about 16 vehicles and does not have the necessary requirements to transport the cargo that our people need to maintain their needs up to date ”, reads part of the letter sent by the mayor of Vieques.

This situation, according to the mayor, has unleashed a crass lack of many provisions, basic necessities, gasoline, liquefied gas and even medical equipment.

"We Viequenses can no longer be without a stable and robust flow of cargo," he added.

Tourist Drowns in Condado Beach

February 7, 2021,

A tourist couple was swept away this afternoon by the strong waves behind the Hotel la Concha, in the Condado, and after being rescued the man was pronounced dead in the Presbyterian Hospital.

Preliminary reports suggest that the continental couple traveled to Puerto Rico for their honeymoon.

The tragic event occurred around 4:13 in the afternoon.

In another incident, Police reported that at 4:20 Sunday afternoon a bather drowned on Las Tortugas beach, in Dorado

Coast Guard, U.S. Border Patrol seize $1.9 million in cocaine, apprehend 2 smugglers in Isabela, Puerto Rico

January 28, 2021

AGUADILLA, Puerto Rico – A Coast Guard aircrew combined efforts with U.S. Border Patrol agents during a drug smuggling event Saturday that resulted in the seizure of 157 pounds (71 Kilos) of cocaine and the arrest of two suspected smugglers from the Dominican Republic near Villa Montana in Isabela, Puerto Rico.

The estimated wholesale value of the seized cocaine is $1.9 million.

The joint collaboration is the result of ongoing Caribbean Border Interagency Group CBIG multiagency efforts in their common goal of securing the borders of Puerto Rico against illegal threats.

“We continue to disrupt and apprehend smugglers that attempt to smuggle people and narcotics across our borders,” indicated Xavier Morales, Chief Patrol Agent for the Ramey Sector. ”

“Once our crew located the vessel, U.S. Border Patrol responded quickly to seize the suspects and narcotics. Our partnership is integral to protecting our shores and keeping our community safe,” said Lt. Karl Alejandre, Coast Guard Air Station Miami HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft commander.

While on a routine patrol Saturday night, the crew of a Coast Guard aircraft detected a suspect 21-foot go-fast vessel, approximately four nautical miles northwest of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. Coast Guard watchstanders in Sector San Juan alerted the U.S. Border Patrol from Ramey Sector and placed the Coast Guard aircrew in direct communication with responding Border Patrol units ashore. While maintaining aerial surveillance of the vessel, the Coast Guard aircrew vectored-in the Border Patrol units to the location where the suspected smugglers made landfall. Shortly thereafter, the Border Patrol agents, which included a K-9 unit, apprehended the two men and seized 58 packages of cocaine.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement - Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI) assumed custody the contraband and the suspected smugglers for investigation and prosecution

Man Charged With Illegal Importation Of Over 50 Machinegun Conversion Devices From China To Puerto Rico

January 13, 2020

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – A federal grand jury returned a five-count indictment charging Lucas E. Izagas Figueroa with illegal importation of firearms, conspiracy to import and possess illegally imported firearms, illegal possession of machineguns, smuggling goods into the United States, and conspiracy to smuggle goods into the United States, announced W. Stephen Muldrow, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) was in charge of the investigation.

According to the indictment, between June 2017 and November 2019, defendant Lucas E. Izagas Figueroa, aiding and abetting others, imported into the United States from China over 50 devices designed exclusively to convert a semi-automatic weapon into a machinegun. According to the indictment, the seller fraudulently described the items with names such as ‘Nylon Fiber Mag” and “Hardware Accessories.” In reality, those items were machinegun conversion devices with a Glock logo

 

Puerto Rico swears in new Governor, Pedro Perlusi

Jan. 2, 2020

In his message, he recognized the particularity of his government, which he will exercise together with a Legislature dominated by the Popular Democratic Party and in which there are new communities such as the Citizen Victory Movement and the Dignity Project.

Thus, he declared that the "enemies" of his government are factors such as Covid-19 and the issue of status, which he presented as an inequality to be resolved.

“We had a diverse vote and I need you all. That will shape my attitude and renew my vision and I will always focus on seeking what unites us as a people, ”he said from the podium on the north side of the Capitol. “Each and every one of us wants the best for Puerto Rico. We want to raise it, rebuild it, move it forward. We all love our country and want to see it grow, even if we show it differently. We all want the government to respond and demand respect and consideration. "

Before arriving at the Capitol, Pierluisi took the official swearing in before Oronoz at the headquarters of the Supreme Court in Puerta de Tierra.

Among the guests were former governors Luis Fortuño, Alejandro García Padilla and Aníbal Acevedo Vilá. There was also the resident commissioner Jenniffer González and the new legislative leadership who was also sworn in in the morning in the Chamber and Senate.

The activity was marked by the music of the Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Ángel “Cuco” Pena.

 

One Dead and Four Injured After Shooting in Monte Hatillo Housing Community

December 12, 2020

A man died while two women, a minor and another individual were injured in the middle of a shooting reported early Saturday Morning in building 13 of the Monte Hatillo residential complex, in Río Piedras.

The deceased person, whose identity has not been disclosed, received several bullet wounds that caused his death on the spot.

Details of how the events occurred, as well as the identity of the injured, are also unknown at this time.

 

AMO Interdicts 2 Vessels Seizing 888 Pounds of Cocaine and Arrest 5 Individuals in Cabo Rojo and Fajardo

December 8, 2020

AGUADILLA, Puerto Rico – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air and Marine Operations (AMO) agents interdicted Monday night 888 pounds (403 kilos) of cocaine during two separate incidents that occurred near Cabo Rojo, in the southwest of the island, and near Fajardo, in the northeast. Five men, two US citizens, two from the Dominican Republic and one Colombian were arrested. The estimated value of the seized narcotics is $ 10.8 million.

“Our vigilance and patrolling operations cover the whole archipelago of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands,” stated Johnny Morales, Director, Air and Marine Operations for the Caribbean Air and Marine Branch. “We leverage our advanced aeronautical and maritime capabilities to detect and interdict them throughout our coastal borders.”

On the evening of Dec. 6, an AMO Marine Patrol Aircraft (MPA) crew detected a 25 to 30 feet single engine “yola” type vessel, with 3 persons visible on board, navigating towards the southwestern coast of Puerto Rico.

The Marine Patrol Aircraft crew maintained surveillance contacting a CBP AMO Marine Unit that intercepted the vessel five nautical miles southwest of the Cabo Rojo Light House. Three aliens were found onboard, one claiming to be a Colombian national and two claiming to be from the Dominican Republic. Agents also found fourteen bales containing approximately 367.8 kilograms of cocaine.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) assumed custody of the contraband and the individuals for investigation and prosecution.

Also on Dec. 6, an AMO Coastal Interceptor Vessel (CIV) crew while on patrol detected a vessel navigating without lights near Lobos Island and Cayo Icacos. The crew of interceptor vessel activated its blue lights, navigation lights, and sirens for which the vessel failed to heave, immediately making a hard turn.

Individuals in the vessel started to jettison bags into the water during pursuit. Upon finally the vessel stop, agents immediately boarded the vessel and controlled the two individuals onboard the vessel.

 

18 yr-old Missing in San Juan

Agents from the Disappeared Persons Division of the Criminal Investigation Corps (CIC) of San Juan are looking for an 18-year-old girl who disappeared last night from the Villa España residential estate in San Juan.

Greyshlian Marie Vargas Meléndez, was reported missing by her mother Gretchen M. Meléndez Álvarez. Vargas Meléndez was described as having a brown complexion, five feet and one inch tall, weighing about 110 pounds, with brown eyes and brown hair.

If you know the young woman's whereabouts, contact agent Rafael Ortiz Piñeiro, from the CIC of San Juan, at 787-793-1234 extensions 2202/2217, at 787-343-2020

Passenger Arriving At San Juan Airport Refused to Follow Proper health Protocols

November 29, 2020

An attack was reported last night in the arrivals area of ​​Terminal B at the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, in Carolina. According to the news report, the complainant said that a man identified as Adrien Williams did not follow his instructions regarding the use of the mask and providing his personal data.

Williams then attacked the complainant in the face and an employee of the Health Department proceeded to make a civil arrest against the aggressor.

Williams refused medical assistance. 

San Juan judge orders Electorial Commission to release the lists of all absentee or early voting to political parties commissioners

Judge Rebeca de León Ríos of the San Juan Court of First Instance, ordered the State Elections Commission (CEE) to deliver to the Movimiento Victoria Ciudadana (MVC) and the electoral commissioners of the different political parties the lists of voters who they voted in the absentee and early voting modalities "immediately the briefcases for each of the electoral precincts are opened."

“The appeal of mandamus has been declared. Consequently, the EEC is ordered, through its president Francisco Rosado Colomer, to fulfill its ministerial duty to deliver to the plaintiff and to each electoral commissioner of the political parties, the lists of the voters who voted in all the voting modalities. absent and immediately advance, the briefcases for each of the electoral precincts are opened, at the beginning of the general scrutiny process ”, reads the order.

The magistrate points out that it is a fact admitted by all the parties that the lists in dispute were requested by the plaintiff from the EEC and have not been delivered. The existence of the lists is also a fact admitted by the president of the Commission and by the PNP Commissioner. At the hearing held on November 17, 2020, they made it clear by stating that the lists are found in the briefcases of each precinct ”, reads the sentence.

She adds that “it is clear that the EEC has to provide the representatives of the parties with the requested lists so that they can determine if the voters voted early, absent, in an easily accessible voting place or at home, and reject any active case that appears in the lists. ”.

She indicates that the use of these lists as a collation tool during the General Scrutiny is evident and arises from the manual approved by the plenary session of the Commission barely seven days ago.

“Therefore, the duty of the Commission to produce the lists is obvious. In accordance with the regulatory provisions that govern the General Scrutiny, it is clear that the lists are essential to the process and, their delivery after the General Scrutiny, as argued by the representatives of the President of the Commission and the PNP Commissioner, would result in an exercise of futility. and contrary to the transparency that the scrutiny process requires so that its legitimacy is safeguarded, ”the ruling indicates.

Puerto Rico Puts Stricter COVID Resrtrictions, Activates National Guard to Enforce Curfew

November 13, 2020

Given the high number of increase in Covid-19 infections, Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced announced a "more restrictive" executive order that reduces the economic openings of the past months, in search of controlling the pandemic.

The governor announced the activation of the Puerto Rico National Guard  to offer support to the Police Bureau in the implementation of the curfew.

The new order will go into effect on Monday, November 16, and will be in effect until December 11. The order that was due to expire today will be in effect until Sunday, to allow businesses and other sectors to take measures to implement the changes.

The governor indicated that the current risk level is in Orange, so the curfew will remain from 10:00 pm to 5:00 am.

Now, establishments such as restaurants, dealerships and churches will be able to operate up to 30% of their capacity. This represents a 25% reduction when compared to the previous executive order.

Casinos, gyms and common pools will open at 30%. Meanwhile, hammocks, cafes, bars and discos will continue to be closed.

Restaurants and businesses must have a poster in their establishments with the number of customers that may enter, considering the 30% of established capacity.

No crowds will be allowed on the beaches. "If we did not know how to take advantage of that opportunity, I have to take more restrictive measures." The common recreational areas in condominiums will remain closed and sports training must be individual.

She added that the fines for not using masks will continue in force.

The last time the governor held a press conference on the Covid-19 curfew was in September, when she announced a more flexible order and annulled the executive order that created the medical and economic 'task force'.

 

5 Dominican Nationals Arrested, $13.5 Million Dollars Seized Near Cabo Rojo

CABO ROJO, PR - Agents of the Maritime Unit of the United Forces of Rapid Action (FURA) last night confiscated 13 bales with a weight of 418 kilos of cocaine valued at $ 13.4 million and arrested the five crew members of Dominican nationality.

The suspects jumped into the water to about five nautical miles east of Punta Arenas.

The intervention took place at around 10:30 pm and the agents continued their search for the boat this morning.

An individual is believed to have fled after throwing the bundles and the five crew members into the sea.

The detainees were taken into custody of the Border Patrol, the federal agency that assumed jurisdiction of the seizure.

Brakes of truck involed in PR Highway 52 were in good condition: investigators

The brakes of the truck that hit 12 vehicles on the puerto rico's  Luis A. Ferré highway last Friday were in good condition, according to an examination by experts.

The accident left 12 people injured, three of them seriously and one with the amputation of a leg.

The test carried out yesterday is contrary to the version given by the driver Rafael Enrique Cotto Martínez, 26, that his brakes had failed.

The investigation which is in the hands of Highway Patrol agents indicates that Cotto Martínez was traveling on Friday morning in the direction of South to North wearing a drag loaded with wet sand at a higher speed, which caused him to lose control of the steering wheel of the 1999 Mack 600 truck.

The crash occurred at kilometer 2.5, near the exit to PR-199 and caused the lanes to be closed for about eight hours.

 

 

Puerto Ricans out in full force to vote inspite of the coronavirus pandemic

November 3, 2020

SAN JUAN — Puerto Rico continues to deal with a high30 percent surge in Covid-19 cases, but residents are pushing through the election process, which started more than a week ago with the organization and counting of mailed-in absentee ballots and early votes.

 Because Puerto Rico’s Election Day is a holiday, early voting is not widespread but due to the pandemic, mail-in voting was expanded, creating logistical issues.

While Puerto Rico has had three main parties for decades, with others popping in and out of the electoral stage, the overwhelming majority of the electorate had oscillated between the Popular Democratic Party (PDP), which has Charlie Delgado as its gubernatorial candidate, and the New Progressive Party (NPP), whose gubernatorial hopeful is Pedro Pierluisi.

 Pierluisi and Delgado consistently trade the top spot as vote-getters in the recent polls.

some polls increasingly show the so-called minority parties attracting a larger number of followers, especially the Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP by its Spanish acronym), with Juan Dalmau at its help, while Movimiento Victoria Ciudadana (MVC, or Citizens’ Victory Movement) is led by Alexandra Lúgaro.

Also on the ballot is another new party, Proyecto Dignidad, whose founder, Dr. César Vázquez, is also vying to become governor, while Eliezer Molina is running as an independent candidate. Aside from the regular state, legislative and municipal ballots, the 2020 election also includes a yes-or-no plebiscite on whether Puerto Rico should be annexed as a state.

FEMA Grants $26.2 Million Injection for Palo Seco and Other Facilities in PR

October 29, 2020.

SAN JUAN – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in coordination with the Puerto Rico Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience, or COR3, obligated more than $26.2 million in funds to the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) under the Agency’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.

The funds are for the engineering and design phase to install a new combined cycle generation plant at the Palo Seco Energy Plant and to acquire 11 gas turbines to be installed in five additional PREPA facilities, the agency announced Wednesday.

“Mitigation is essential for the successful recovery of the island and for facing disasters in the future. These funds help to lessen the effects of natural events that affect our communities,” said Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinator for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, José Baquero Tirado.

With a total of over $13.5 million, the design of this generation plant at Palo Seco “will help reduce economic losses by cutting down the recovery time after power outages,” FEMA said. Currently, this facility located in Toa Baja has an operational capacity of approximately 343 megawatts. The work to be completed is expected to increase the capacity to more than 700 megawatts, “which will benefit 1.5 million customers across the island.”

Meanwhile, $12.7 million is earmarked for the design of 11 gas turbines to be installed at PREPA plants in Vega Baja, Daguao, Yabucoa, Jobos and Palo Seco. These turbines will improve the redundancy and resiliency of the existing electrical grid during emergencies.

"This engineering and design phase allows PREPA to begin the first projects that will lead to a more resilient electrical system against atmospheric events on the island. We continue to work together with our peers to achieve the funding obligations, and more importantly the execution of these for the benefit of our clients,” commented PREPA’s Acting Executive Director, Efran Paredes Maisonet.

After this initial design phase, additional funding for construction costs may become available for both projects, the agency said.

“FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grants Program (HMGP) goal is to ensure that the opportunity to take critical mitigation measures to reduce the risk of loss of life and property from future disasters is not lost during the reconstruction process following a disaster,” the release reads.

To date, HMGP has funded over $52 million for Puerto Rico’s resiliency after hurricanes Irma and María.

U.S. Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow Appoints Election Officer For The District Of Puerto Rico

United States Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow announced today that the Chief of the Financial Fraud & Corruption Section, Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) Seth Erbe, will lead the efforts of his Office in connection with the Justice Department’s nationwide Election Day Program for the upcoming November 3, 2020, general election. AUSA Erbe has been appointed to serve as the District Election Officer (DEO) for the District of Puerto Rico, and in that capacity is responsible for overseeing the District’s handling of complaints of election fraud and voting rights concerns in consultation with Justice Department Headquarters in Washington.

United States Attorney Muldrow said, “Every citizen must be able to vote without interference or discrimination and to have that vote counted without it being stolen because of fraud. The Department of Justice will always act appropriately to protect the integrity of the election process.”

The Department of Justice has an important role in deterring election fraud and discrimination at the polls, and combating these violations whenever and wherever they occur. The Department’s long-standing Election Day Program furthers these goals, and also seeks to ensure public confidence in the integrity of the election process by providing local points of contact within the Department for the public to report possible election fraud and voting rights violations while the polls are open through Election Day.

Federal law protects against such crimes as intimidating or bribing voters, buying and selling votes, impersonating voters, altering vote tallies, stuffing ballot boxes, and marking ballots for voters against their wishes or without their input. It also contains special protections for the rights of voters, and provides that they can vote free from acts that intimidate or harass them. For example, actions of persons designed to interrupt or intimidate voters at polling places by questioning or challenging them, or by photographing or videotaping them, under the pretext that these are actions to uncover illegal voting may violate federal voting rights law. Further, federal law protects the right of voters to mark their own ballot or to be assisted by a person of their choice (where voters need assistance because of disability or illiteracy).

The franchise is the cornerstone of American democracy. We all must ensure that those who are entitled to the franchise exercise it if they choose and that those who seek to corrupt it are brought to justice. In order to respond to complaints of election fraud or voting rights concerns during the voting period that ends on November 3, 2020, and to ensure that such complaints are directed to the appropriate authorities, United States Attorney Muldrow stated that AUSA/DEO Erbe will be on duty in this District while the polls are open. He can be reached by the public at the following telephone numbers: 787-340-1795 or 787-340-1890.

In addition, the FBI will have special agents available in each field office and resident agency throughout the country to receive allegations of election fraud and other election abuses on Election Day. The local FBI field office can be reached by the public at 787-754-6000 or 787-987-6500.

Complaints about possible violations of the federal voting rights laws can be made directly to the Civil Rights Division in Washington, DC by phone at (800) 253-3931 or by complaint form at https://civilrights.justice.gov/ .

Coast Guard transfers 4 suspected smugglers, $1.4 million in seized cocaine to federal agents in San Juan, Puerto Rico

October 24,2020

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Doyle (WPC-1133) transferred custody of four suspected smugglers and 50 kilograms of seized cocaine to Caribbean Corridor Strike Force federal agents at Sector San Juan Friday, following the interdiction of a drug smuggling go-fast vessel in the Caribbean Sea.

The interdiction was the result of multi-agency efforts in support of U.S. Southern Command's enhanced counter-narcotics operations in the Western Hemisphere, the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program and the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force (CCSF). The United States Attorney's Office for the District of Puerto Rico is leading the prosecution for this case.

The estimated wholesale value of the seized cocaine is more than $1.4 million dollars.

The performance of the Coast Guard units involved in this case along with the close collaboration of our local and federal law enforcement partners resulted in a successful interdiction,” said Cmdr. Beau Powers, Sector San Juan chief of response. “This contraband will never reach the streets due to our strong partnerships and shared resolve are crucial to safeguarding the nation’s southernmost maritime border and protecting our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Island from this threat.”

The bust occurred during the early morning hours of Oct. 17, 2020, after the aircrew of a Coast Guard HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft from Air Station Miami detected a suspicious 25-foot go-fast vessel northwest of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico.

The Coast Guard Cutter Charles David Jr. (WPC-1107) responded to the sighting and interdicted the go-fast vessel with the assistance of the cutter’s small boat. After the interdiction, the Coast Guard boarding team located and recovered one bale of suspected contraband, which tested positive for cocaine.

The crew of the cutter Charles David Jr. embarked the seized contraband and the four men from the go-fast vessel, all of whom claimed Dominican Republic nationality. The Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Doyle (WPC-1133) later embarked and transported the seized contraband and suspected smugglers to San Juan, Puerto Rico, where Caribbean Corridor Strike Force federal law enforcement agents received custody.

Puerto Rico Rico Fire Dept. Bureau Computer System Hacked

October 14, 2020

The commissioner of the Fire Department, Alberto Cruz Albarrán, revealed today that the computer systems are "compromised."

According to what has transpired, a hacker managed to control the systems, for which he requests 600 thousand dollars to release them.

"We have reported to the Police Bureau that the Fire Department's Bureau's systems are compromised after an outsider had access to it and requested money in exchange for the return of the accesses," stated Cruz Albarrán.

He indicated that the Bureau's IT staff works, in conjunction with the Department of Public Security, to correct the situation with the corresponding authorities.

"It is important to mention that the response to emergencies remains unchanged and we continue to attend to the situations that are reported," he said.

Cruz Albarrán urged any citizen who has an emergency to call 9-1-1.

Governor to sign executive order to stop violence against women

October 10, 2020

 Governor, Wanda Vázquez Garced, reported that she is in the process of evaluating the draft of an Executive Order that will be aimed at stopping violence against women.

“Violence against women is a social problem that threatens the dignity, human rights and integrity of all women; girls, adolescents, elderly women and all of them in their diversity. It is our mission to do everything in our power to clearly implement the measures to eradicate it. We recognize that violence does not distinguish between sex, race, color, sexual orientation, social, economic and religious status. However, last year, 70% of the incidences of domestic violence cases in Puerto Rico were against women. We will tackle abuse, inequality and impunity. No more! It is everyone's responsibility and a collective effort of the country ”, expressed the first executive.

Vázquez Garced assured that the Executive Order will be accompanied by an action plan that was worked out for a year in meetings with different sectors that represent women. In a press release, La Fortaleza established that "the Executive Order and the action plan are the response to the claim of these groups and organizations to reevaluate, review and update the actions that are currently being carried out by government agencies and non-governmental organizations for the protection of women in Puerto Rico ".

Likewise, they assured the order provides how the supervision and participation of women's groups and organizations will be, integrating public agencies and non-governmental organizations for the joint work of implementation of the action plan that is expected to accompany the order. It includes strategies aimed at prevention and education, as well as the compilation of statistical data that can be used for analysis of the problem, provision of resources and establish a baseline that can be used as a measure of future effectiveness.

 

Trump’s acting Solicitor General points out “the financial burden of statehood”

September 6, 2020

The debate on the political relationship between Puerto Rico and the U.S. was revived yesterday after President Donald Trump’s acting Solicitor General made some expressions before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Acting Solicitor General Attorn Jeffrey Wall said that statehood carries a “financial burden” that Puerto Rico must assume if the island wants to receive assistance such as the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program.

Wall also stated that, on the contrary, receiving such assistance under the current status represents a “unilateral” fiscal relationship.

Wall said in a certiorari petition that Congress has a legitimate interest in avoiding a unilateral fiscal relationship under which Puerto Rico shares the financial benefits but not the financial burden of statehood, and declining to include Puerto Rico in the SSI program is a reasonable way to advance that interest.

The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program is a federal program designed to help people 65 or older, blind, and disabled people, who have little or no income.

Washington Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González had asked the federal government to avoid reversing decisions in the SSI case.In written statements, she indicated the appeal is a result of the Commonwealth.

González argued that the petition to the federal justice is based on the fact that “the conditions under which we live in our territory, such as the SSI, are tied to the will of Congress. We fall into the colonial trap of the Commonwealth”.

And she added that “the Commonwealth is the barrier that separates us from equality and from fully enjoying our rights as American citizens. This petition to the federal justice strengthens our call to vote ‘Yes’ in the referendum.

 

Puerto Rico to receive $24 million to manage opioid crisis

September 2, 2020

SAN JUAN — Puerto Rico State Opioid Response (SOR by its Spanish acronym), an initiative by the Mental Health & Antiaddiction Services Administration (ASSMCA by its Spanish acronym) is receiving a $24 million federal allocation, ASSMCA Administrator Suzanne Roig Fuertes announced.

The allocation, which comes from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA English) is intended to fund the developments of projects within SOR over the next two years.

“This is undoubtedly one of the most comprehensive proposals on the subject of prevention and care that has been achieved at ASSMCA. With this new allocation of funds, we will continue developing projects that seek to raise awareness about the risk of abusing opioid medications, as well as help those who unfortunately have developed some dependence on these drugs and of course avoid the deaths from overdoses,” Roig explained.

To strengthen prevention efforts, the project includes training for nearly 1,500 first responders, including physicians, pharmacists and correctional officers. In addition, the agency will distribute Naloxone to treat immediate overdose cases. Treatment and recovery of substance abuse in the adult population will be strengthened through the integration of best practices in methadone programs, residential centers and drug courts. The ASSMCA Detox Unit will integrate the use of Naltrexone and Buprenorphine, which have shown to be effective as part of opioid abuse treatments.

Between 1999 and 2017, some 399,000 people died from an opioid overdose in the United States, making it one of the leading causes of death nationwide. In Puerto Rico, 2018 saw 100 fatal overdoses, while in 2019 that number rose to 188.

In addition, ASSMCA will strengthen the process of testing the population diagnosed with HIV and the vaccination of thousands of patients at risk of hepatitis. Also, alliances with community-based organizations and municipalities that have proven to run successful programs have also begun to be created.

The Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP), developed by ASSMCA through the Act 70 of 2017, established an electronic drug monitoring system, as well as sanctions and penalties resulting from improper handling of prescription medication. The PDMP allows for tracking the prescription of narcotics, helps in the identification of addiction problems and facilitates clinical decision making, Roig explained.

Similarly, a program to collect controlled drugs will be implemented in 50 island municipalities in collaboration with pharmacies, and certain municipalities will receive funding to develop projects aimed at the prevention of opioid overdose and will impact hundreds of inmates in their process of transitioning to the outside world.

“It is pertinent to thank the Federal Government for approval of this proposal. In tune with the priorities of Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced, our goal is to continue taking affirmative actions to educate about the dangerousness of these drugs and discourage their consumption and avoid the increase in deaths from opioid overdoses,” Roig concluded.

Senate Closed After Several Legislators Test Positive for Covid-19

August 20, 2020

Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz today issued an administrative order decreeing a closure of administrative work until September 7, after having reported positive cases to Covid-19 in the Legislature and including employees of some legislative offices.

"This includes the suspension of work in all legislative and administrative offices, commissions and the respective government affairs offices throughout the island," reads the document issued today by the senatorial leader.

The recess, as stated, will be to the employees and officials of the Senate without charge to any license. "However, this will not apply to hourly Senate employees or contractors," he adds.

In addition, it empowers Senate employees and officials - who are instructed by a supervisor to continue operating - to do so remotely. Each supervisor will have to request prior authorization from the Secretary of Administration so that the employee can work remotely.

"No employee, official or contractor may rejoin the work of the Senate of Puerto Rico without medical certification, in the event that, during or after the administrative closure, it has been classified as a suspicious case through medical certification or that, in effect , has been diagnosed with Covid-19, "Rivera Schatz said in the order.

The document was sent this morning to the senators and supervisors of the different areas of the Senate. This refers to the information that has emerged that several officials of the Legislative Assembly have yielded a positive result to the Covid-19 test.

Puerto Rico Elections Commission Receives Bomb Threat

August 19, 2020

Authorities in San Juan Received a letter last night that was addressed to the State Elections Commission and it threatens to shoot inside the San Juan main headquarters.

The letter arrived in an envelope mixed with other correspondence and began with foul language. It a section of the letter the anonymous person wrote, "you can be sure we are going to shoot into the  windows of the building and we are going to put a bomb in it."

Authorities are trying to determine the origin of the letter.

Coast Guard repatriates 18 migrants to the Dominican Republic, following the interdiction of an illegal voyage off Cabo Rojo Puerto Rico

August 13, 2020

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The Coast Guard repatriated 18 migrants to the Dominican Republic between Saturday and Tuesday, following the interdiction of an illegal migrant voyage off the coast of Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico.

The interdiction is the result of ongoing multiagency efforts in support of Operation Caribbean Guard and the Caribbean Border Interagency Group CBIG.

 “Those who take part in an illegal migrant voyage to cross the Mona Passage risk losing their lives, and it's truly saddening and unfortunate when we find minors taking part in these voyages,” said Cmdr. Beau Powers, Sector San Juan chief of response. “To the parents, friends and loved ones of anyone looking to take part in an illegal voyage, implore that they not take to the sea, the dangers are just to great. These unseaworthy and often grossly overloaded makeshift vessels could easily capsize or sink without notice giving the migrants a very slim to almost no chance of survival.”

While on a routine patrol of the Mona Passage early Friday morning, the crew of a Customs and Border Protection marine enforcement aircraft detected an illegal migrant voyage, just off the coast of Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico. The Coast Guard Cutter Richard Dixon (WPC-1113) and a Puerto Rico Joint Forces of Rapid Action marine unit responded to interdict the suspect vessel. Shortly thereafter, the crew of the Puerto Rico Police stopped the 25-foot makeshift boat that was transporting 13 adult men, four women and a 17-year-old male minor. The crew of cutter Richard Dixon safely embarked the migrants from the makeshift vessel.

Once aboard a Coast Guard cutter, all migrants received food, water, shelter and basic medical attention. Throughout the interdiction, Coast Guard crewmembers were equipped with personal protective equipment to minimize potential exposure to any possible case of COVID-19. There were no migrants reported to have any COVID-19 related symptoms.

Landslides & Floods Continue on Puerto Rico's West Coast City of Mayaguez Following Tropical Storm Isaias

July 30, 2020

Landslides and floods as a result of the storm Isaías continue to be reported in the on the West Coast of Puerto Rico

One of the landslides was reported on Highway 349, which gives access to the Bella Vista Hospital and the Residential Center for Educational Opportunities of Mayagüez (CROEM), also known as the Cerro La Mesa community.

Likewise, several communities near the Yagüez River are under water following the heavy rains that the city has experienced since 5:00 in the morning.

“As I had already anticipated, the Yagüez River today came out of its channel again. I have been calling on the State since 2007 for the threatening situation for nearby communities, ”denounced the mayor of Mayagüez, José Guillermo Rodríguez, while indicating that he is collecting information on damages and other details, to have a preliminary detail on procedures regarding the mobilization of victims.

He stressed that the Guanajibo River, which is another of the main body of water in the western region - which distrubutes water to other rivers and streams also caused severe floods.

“The flood has already gone down but several sectors remain flooded. They are sensitive areas that 95% belong to the state and have not been served for decades, "said the mayor.

Also, he stated that the Municipal Police has had to intervene to guide several people who have been spectators on the adjacent bridges where floods have been reported. "We have indicated that there is no need for them to be on the street," he concluded.

 

Blackout leaves more than 100 thousand subscribers without light

July 28, 2020

The Electric Power Authority reported that there was an over load, due to the exit from operation of EcoEl Eléctrica.

The Utier president, Ángel Figueroa Jaramillo, indicated that with the departure of EcoEl Eléctrica there is a deficiency of 500 megawatts and that more than 100,000 subscribers are out of service.

"So far there are 111,095 subscribers without service. Operations are being carried out before the exit of the private EcoEl Eléctrica plant. Work is underway to recover the service as soon as possible," said Figueroa Jaramillo.

Subscribers from Arecibo, Aguadilla, Naranjito, Guaynabo, Guayanilla, Yauco, Gurabo, Hatillo, Cabo Rojo, Barceloneta, San Germán and Juana Díaz, among others, have reported being without electricity.

This event occurs at a time when Puerto Rico is under warning of a tropical storm due to the proximity of a system that could bring winds of 40 miles per hour and up to 10 inches of rain.

Confusion Reigns Among Passengers Arriving in Puerto Rico

July 15, 2020

As of today, every passenger arriving at the island's airports on a flight from the United States or any international destination is considered a person with reasonable suspicion of having been exposed to the coronavirus (Covid-19).

Therefore, passengers must arrive on the Island with a negative Covid-19 result from a molecular test carried out within 72 hours before arrival, or else they must remain in quarantine for a period of 14 days. or for the duration of the stay in Puerto Rico, whichever is shorter.

Upon arrival on the Island,  a man who was on a flight from Philadelphia, said he was not informed that he had to fill out a traveler's statement and that he also did not know about the portals into which his information could be entered. He added that he was also not oriented on the plane.

At 10:00 am, the Health Secretary, Lorenzo González Feliciano, did not have data on how many passengers had entered the airport at the moment, how many had brought the negative result of the molecular test and how many had gone to quarantine.

.When asked by a journalist about how effective the tracking of the passenger arriving in Puerto Rico will be, the official replied: “It is a representative sample of the total number of visitors, which will be monitored rationally. You cannot monitor 100% of the people who are going to arrive, but we are going to make a representative sample of the population that arrives in Puerto Rico, which will be monitored through the Sara Alert process. ”

 

Just hours before a new phase of economic opening comes into effect, Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced issued a new executive order 2020-52 to establish new rules for travelers arriving at airports in the midst of the emergency by Covid-19.

Coast Guard rescues child from inflatable raft swept to sea by current off beach in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico

June 24, 2020

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The crew of a Coast Guard Boat Station San Juan 33-foot Special Purpose Craft – Law Enforcement rescued a young girl, between four to six-years-old, from an inflatable plastic raft Monday afternoon, over half a mile off the beach near “Isla de Cabras” in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico.

Coast Guard watchstanders in Sector San Juan received a call at 3:49 p.m. Monday from a 911 Emergency operator, who reported that the child was being swept out to sea near the “Palo Seco” power plant in Toa Baja. Watchstanders directed the launch of a Coast Guard 33-foot SPC-LE boat crew from Boat Station San Juan to search for the child. Watchstanders also issued an Urgent Marine Information Broadcast advising boaters in the area to be on the lookout.

Within 12 minutes of getting underway, The Coast Guard boat crew was on scene. With the assistance of Sector San Juan watchstanders, the boat crew was patched into a phone call with Samuel Cruz Valcárcel, a Good Samaritan bystander at the beach, who was able to communicate directly with the boat crew and vector them in closer to the location of the raft. Moments later, the Boat Station San Juan crew located the girl drifting away from shore on her inflatable raft. The Coast Guard crew came alongside the raft and safely recovered the girl, they provided her with a blanket to make her warm and comfortable aboard.

united states coast guard News Release U.S. Coast Guard 7th District Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands Contact: Coast Guard Puerto Rico PA Office Office: 787-729-2381 After Hours: 787-510-7923 7th District Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands online newsroom Coast Guard rescues child from inflatable raft swept to sea by current off beach in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico The crew of a Coast Guard Boat Station San Juan 33-foot Special Purpose Craft – Law Enforcement rescued a young girl, between four to six-years-old, from an inflatable plastic raft the afternoon of June 22, 2020, approximately half a mile off the beach near “Isla de Cabras” in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Diego Chenoweth) The crew of a Coast Guard Boat Station San Juan 33-foot Special Purpose Craft – Law Enforcement rescued a young girl, between four to six-years-old, from an inflatable plastic raft the afternoon of June 22, 2020, approximately half a mile off the beach near “Isla de Cabras” in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico. (U.S. Coast Guard photo). Editor's note: Please click on images for high resolution versions SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The crew of a Coast Guard Boat Station San Juan 33-foot Special Purpose Craft – Law Enforcement rescued a young girl, between four to six-years-old, from an inflatable plastic raft Monday afternoon, over half a mile off the beach near “Isla de Cabras” in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico. Coast Guard watchstanders in Sector San Juan received a call at 3:49 p.m. Monday from a 911 Emergency operator, who reported that the child was being swept out to sea near the “Palo Seco” power plant in Toa Baja. Watchstanders directed the launch of a Coast Guard 33-foot SPC-LE boat crew from Boat Station San Juan to search for the child. Watchstanders also issued an Urgent Marine Information Broadcast advising boaters in the area to be on the lookout. Within 12 minutes of getting underway, The Coast Guard boat crew was on scene. With the assistance of Sector San Juan watchstanders, the boat crew was patched into a phone call with Samuel Cruz Valcárcel, a Good Samaritan bystander at the beach, who was able to communicate directly with the boat crew and vector them in closer to the location of the raft. Moments later, the Boat Station San Juan crew located the girl drifting away from shore on her inflatable raft. The Coast Guard crew came alongside the raft and safely recovered the girl, they provided her with a blanket to make her warm and comfortable aboard. “This brave little girl was very fortunate to survive this ordeal, she did a great job of staying on her raft that was not a lifesaving device and could have easily tipped over at any moment, she was also wearing a life jacket.” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Jesse Wilde, Coast Guard Boat Station San Juan coxswain for the case. “Despite the situation she was in good spirits, we’ll never forget her smile once she realized she was safe. I am proud of the entire crew and of our watchstanders, our training, experience and the coordination with a Good Samaritan at the beach allowed us to quickly locate this young child and bring her to safety.”

Sector San Juan watchstanders coordinated the transfer of the child to local responding emergency authorities ashore. The Coast Guard boat crew rendezvoused with a responder aboard watercraft from the Vega Baja Municipal Office of Emergency Management, who received and transported the child ashore. The child was outfitted with an additional life jacket for the transit and she was received by Emergency Medical Service personnel, who reportedly transported her to a local hospital as a precaution for further evaluation.

Wanda Vázquez signs law to hold a “statehood yes or no” plebiscite on November 3

May 16, 2020

The governor Wanda Vázquez Garced signed today, Saturday, a new law that gives way to the celebration of a plebiscite “statehood yes or no” for Puerto Rico on November 3.

The first executive made the announcement accompanied by the legislative presidents, members of the Legislative Assembly and figures such as former Governor Carlos Romero Barceló.

Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González was not present at the signing of the law. However, he expressed, through written declarations, that the island is going through a moment of “urgency” to “achieve equality with the rest of the states.”

Fajardo Opens Cemeteries for Mother's Day

May 9, 2020.

The two cemeteries of Fajardo are already open to the public for the celebration of Mother's Day, as reported today by the town's mayor, José Aníbal Meléndez Méndez.

The town has two cemeteries. One located on Calle Igualdad and the other in the Florencio neighborhood. Meléndez Méndez said that both have personnel and protective equipment to safely attend to visitors and prevent the spread of Covid-19.

As specified by the mayor, cemeteries will be open to the public from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm.

He said there is additional police surveillance and that the temperature of the people at the entrance to the cemeteries is taken. In addition, all visitors must wear a mask.

Likewise, the protocol establishes that visits last between 15 and 30 minutes per family and four members of each family are allowed to enter, in turn. It also establishes that the social distance of six feet must be maintained between people, except between members who live under the same roof.

 

Cocaine Seized in Fajardo Valued at $ 4.7 Million

May 8, 2020

Agents from Air and Marine Operations, Customs and Border Protection, along with the Puerto Rico Police and National Security Investigations (HSI) seized 419 pounds of cocaine early Thursday morning.

Narcotics have an estimated street value of $ 4.75 million. In addition, two men were arrested.

“This is a good example of how Air and Marine Operations conduct dynamic operations, take advantage of its many capabilities, and work closely with its partner law enforcement agencies when the need arises. This shows how Air and Marine Operations, Customs and Border Protection serve the public, "said Executive Director for the Southeast region, John Priddy.

Detainees Ebrain Orta-Serrano and Francisco Correa-Marcado will make an initial appearance before United States Magistrate Judge Marshal Morgan in a criminal complaint charging them with possession of a controlled substance with the intent to distribute, in violation of federal law.

On May 6, 2020, a Puerto Rico Army National Guard helicopter flying in support of AMO's Fajardo Maritime Unit detected suspicious activities near the coast of the Maternillo neighborhood of Fajardo.

Agents began an investigation into a residence suspected of smuggling narcotics. A police canine positively alerted to the narcotic odor around a vehicle parked in front of the residence.

The agents petitioned the United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico for a search warrant and arrested the two defendants.

National Security Investigations Agents (HSI) from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service are in charge of investigating the case. Assistant United States Attorney Kelly Zenon is in charge of the prosecution.

 

Federal Health allocates $ 8.5 million to Puerto Rico to expand coronavirus detection tests

May 7, 2020

The United States Department of Health announced today that 22 Puerto Rico health centers will split $ 8.5 million to help finance the acquisition and supply of coronavirus screening tests.

The Mountain Comprehensive Health Center will receive the highest total, $ 1.01 million, followed by the Puerto Rico Health Council, which will obtain another $ 815,839. The municipality of San Juan has been assigned $ 110,749.

Alex Azar, Secretary of Health of the United States, said today that the funds allocated to health centers on the island arise from an allocation of $ 583 million for 1,385 health centers in the 50 states, Washington DC and the territories.

The funds stem from the April 24 law that added $ 484 billion to the Cares economic stimulus statute. The law of April 24, among other things, ordered the creation of a strategy "to research, develop, validate, manufacture, buy, manage and expand the capacity for COVID-19 tests."

"Widespread testing is a critical step in reopening the United States, and health centers are vital to making testing easily accessible, especially for underserved and minority populations," said Azar.

The secretary said that the centers can be key in the process of tracing contacts of a person who has tested positive for the virus.

Governor Signs New Executive Order on Curfew Extension

May 1, 2020

Governor Wanda Vázquez today signed the new executive order that extends the curfew - from 7:00 pm to 5:00 am - until May 25.

The new order establishes the guidelines by which the country will be governed until the end of the month, to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

From May 11, sectors such as mortgage financial services, real estate brokers, notaries and other professional offerings of lawyers, engineers and accountants will reopen.

In the case of pharmacies and gasoline stations, the first executive maintained that they will be able to operate regularly seven days a week, at the established hours. This will include lottery sales and inspection centers, although the moratorium on labels continues.

In addition, it gave the green light to the opening of the construction sector will give way to the opening of hardware stores, premises for maintenance, repair, inspection and sale of vehicle parts, but only from Monday to Friday between 9:00 am and 5: 00 pm.

Puerto Rico’s Top 3 Banks Issue $748M in PPP Loans

SAN JUAN — Oriental Bank issued more than $140 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans to some 900 small and midsize enterprises (SMEs) in Puerto Rico before the program ran out of money last week, bank officials said Monday.ril 21, 2020.

This brings the total PPP loan amount issued by the island’s three largest locally based banks to $748 million.

Popular Inc.—which owns Banco Popular de Puerto Rico (BPPR), the island’s largest bank—reported last week that it had approved $398 million in PPP loans for local SMEs, while FirstBank reported the approval of some $210 million in such loans for 921 customers.

The three banks, along with Santander and Banesco and eight local credit unions, were the only local financial institutions authorized by the SBA to issue the PPP (7-A) loans, which provides SMEs with funds to pay up to two months of payroll costs amid the Covid-19 emergency curfew/lockdowns in place stateside and in Puerto Rico since last month.

The BPPR-, FirstBank- and Oriental Bank-issued loans make up almost the totality of all PPP loans approved in Puerto Rico, considering that the SBA reported as of noon Thursday, just before program funds ran out, that financial institutions in Puerto Rico had approved 2,856 PPP loans in the amount of $658.6 million. The federal agency had not updated the information as of Monday afternoon.

The average PPP loan in Puerto Rico was $230,593, in contrast to the $206,000 throughout the United States, according to last week’s SBA report.

Oriental Chief Operating Officer Ganesh Kumar said in a press release that 80 percent of its PPP loans had been issued to small companies and that the average loan came out to $50,000. The bank managed to “guarantee” 85 percent of all applications received, he said, adding that “close to 90 percent” of the loan money has been disbursed.

The PPP loans given to the more than 900 SMEs had an impact on over 25,000 employees, the Oriental COO said.

Many SMEs in Puerto Rico PPP loans to help them survive the Covid-19 pandemic crisis were left hanging this week when the SBA program’s $349 billion in funding ran out by Friday—barely two weeks after it was launched.

The local SMEs, imperiled by a month-long curfew/lockdown order that has been extended into May, are now waiting for Congress to approve a second allotment of $250 billion for the program, enacted as part of the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). The $450 billion legislation that includes added PPP funding has stalled in Congress over Republicans and Democrats bickering over funding for Covid-19 testing.

mages of the huge Asteroid 52768 revealed

April 18, 2020

New observations made from the Arecibo Observatory show preliminary radar images of "1998 OR2", a huge space rock that will approach slightly and completely safely on April 29.

"There is no risk of impact from this asteroid, since the space rock would be passing 16 times the Earth-Moon distance, but the interesting thing about this slight approach is that the asteroid's large size will allow it to be seen through telescopes,"  the Caribbean Astronomy Society (SAC) said.

The educational entity clarified that the asteroid will not be visible to the naked eye, and indicated that the closest approach occurs on April 29, 2020, around 5:56 am local time.

However, several observatories are already observing it, while anyone with a small telescope and who knows how to point it to the right place and time, will be able to see asteroid 52768 looking like an apparent star moving "very slowly," the organization said.

By April 24, the asteroid will be bright enough to be easily spotted through telescopes, so he shared illustrations and instructions to try to locate it in the sky.

This is considered a "Potentially Dangerous Asteroid", but only because it occasionally approaches less than 20 times the Earth-Moon distance, and because of its large size. Still, there is no risk since its orbit has been calculated for at least the next 200 years, and its trajectory does not represent any danger.

The radar images that will be obtained from Arecibo will allow us to better understand the shape and size of this space rock. Asteroid 52768 belongs to a class or type of space rocks called "Love" and it is anticipated that after April 2020, it would be returning to the vicinity of our planet on April 16, 2079, when it will pass 4.6 times the distance from Earth- Moon.

 

 

 

Authorities seek man for stealing mail packages

April 14, 2020

State and federal authorities are on the trail of a man suspected of stealing packages from mailboxes at the Caparra Terrace housing estate in San Juan last month.

The United States Postal Service Office of Inspectors released images of the alleged perpetrator of stealing mail packages..

"The subject of the distributed images is traveling in a gray Honda Pilot SUV. The man is described as white-skinned, with a beard and as a distinctive feature he has a tattoo on his right arm from the elbow to the hand," said the Police in press release.

"The cooperation and help of citizens are requested to identify this subject in order to find his whereabouts," he added.

People who have any information can contact the Office of Postal Inspectors at 787-622-1670 or the PR Police 787-782-9006 or 787-343-2020.

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Three Women are the Most Recent Victims of the Coronavirus in Puerto Rico

U.S. Treasury Has Yet to Issue Guidelines for Disbursing Individual Aid in Puerto Rico

April 2, 2020

SAN JUAN — Puerto Rico’s Treasury Department, known locally as Hacienda, is working on the draft of the plan it must submit to the U.S. Treasury and its Internal Revenue Service to be able to distribute individual federal aid and reimbursements to employers through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which the local officials hope can be carried out soon.

The Families First Law establishes credits to employers for what they paid as of April 1 to their employees under a new sick leave requirement, which would be disbursed through Hacienda.

Similarly, Hacienda must also issue the checks or electronically transfers the aid to individuals legislated under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act signed Friday.

“There is still no specific date, but I can tell you that the federal secretary of the Treasury himself has expressed wanting to process these disbursements within a period of three weeks,” the island’s undersecretary of Internal Revenue, Ángel Pantojas, told Caribbean Business.

The official participated in a virtual meeting with the Treasury and the IRS on Wednesday afternoon, in which representatives of other U.S. territories also participated to “follow up on the discussions that began last week” and see how the work was going.

Hacienda must present to the Treasury and the IRS an estimate of the people who could receive these grants to determine whether it is consistent with the estimates budgeted federally for the island.

However, Treasury has not yet published the guidelines that will govern the process.

The IRS determined that to validate aid recipients it will first verify:

—Whether the person filed a federal return during tax years 2017, 2018, or 2019; —if they did not file, they will resort to the information in the Social Security records;

—If the above-mentioned do not apply, a form requesting the aid must be filled.

In addition, the IRS said Social Security beneficiaries, veterans and disabled people who do not pay federal taxes must fill out the form to receive the aid.

Pantojas explained that the plan to distribute the aid to employers is ahead because the law was signed first, but that both must be ready to be presented at the same time.

CORONAVIRUS IN PR FOR APRIL 2

Number of Positive Cases:  326

Deaths: 12

Tests Carried Out: 3041

Pending Tests: 1,119

 

Coronavirus figures in Puerto Rico for Monday, March 30

March 30, 2020

The death of a 68-year-old man in the Bayamón region increased the number of people killed by COVID-19 in Puerto Rico to six, while the total number of positive cases increased to 167, as reported by the Health Department on Monday .

Compared to the information offered on Sunday, 47 new positive cases were added (a global number of 130 confirmed positives had been reported yesterday), of which 14 were processed in the Public Health Laboratory, two in the Veterans Hospital and 31 in private laboratories. According to Health, 27 of these new confirmed cases are men and 20 are women.

As part of the announcement of the death of the 68-year-old man, it was indicated that the patient had a history of travel to New York, a state that is today the center of the world's coronavirus pandemic. This sixth death joins that of two men, 68 and 42, respectively, to that of a Puerto Rican, 48, followed by a tourist from New York, 73, and an Italian tourist, 68.

As of yesterday, Sunday, according to the Health Department report, 1,898 coronavirus tests have been carried out, of which 930 have shown negative, while the result of another 794 is still awaited.

 

Puerto Rico Installs First Mobile Hospital for Covid-19 Patients in Mayagüez

March 28, 2020

The Secretary of Public Affairs of La Fortaleza, Osvaldo Soto, reported that the Puerto Rico National Guard (GNPR) began installing a mobile hospital in Mayagüez today, as part of efforts to attend to the coronavirus emergency (Covid-19) in the island.

In a virtual conference to offer an update on the response to the novel virus, Soto reported that this hospital will have a maximum capacity of up to 150 beds.

As detailed, this operation is performed in conjunction with the medical 'task force', the interagency 'task force', the private sector and the Department of Health.

"Within the emergency plan, what you want to have is an area where this region can be grouped," Soto explained. He added that it is not ruled out to install mobile hospitals in other regions, if the situation so requires.

Dr. Segundo Rodríguez, coordinator of the medical 'task force', explained that the purpose of this mobile hospital is "to help the hospital facility that will be adjacent to this camp, so that it can evict patients who are beginning to improve."

He anticipated that another mobile hospital with 150 additional beds will be installed in another municipality in the Mayagüez region.

Dr. Marcia Cruz, a member of the medical Task Force, explained that the island's health system currently has over 6,000 beds to attend to Covid-19 cases. According to the latest available inventory assessment conducted yesterday, nearly 60% of beds and "the vast majority" of intensive beds were available.

On the other hand, Soto explained that they hope to distribute another 3,000 rapid kits tests promptly in coordination with the Bureau for Emergency Management and Disaster Administration (Nmead) and the Police Bureau.

Dr. Cruz stated that in the coming weeks - during the curfew period - it is expected that more than a million tests of Covid-19 will arrive on the Island. Although he pointed out that the task force is not in charge of buying the samples, he indicated that they received evidence of the purchase order.

Along these lines, given the public's concern about the slowness of the tests, the doctor recognized the need for "tests, tests, tests." He stressed that he is in talks with laboratories about the possibility that the Island receives 500,000 molecular tests weekly.

Confirmed Covid-19 cases on the Island remain at 100, while the Health Department waits for the results of 792 tests. At the moment, 1631 tests have been carried out between Health, the Veterans Administration and private laboratories.

 

Puerto Rico Reports 2nd Death from the Coronavirus

March 23, 2020

A second death from Covid-19 was reported last night after a 73-year-old man died from the novel virus.

The man was a New York resident and was on vacation on the Island with his wife. He began to develop symptoms in Puerto Rico, so he was admitted to the isolation room of a hospital institution in the metropolitan region. He had recently been tested in the Public Health Laboratory of the Department of Health, testing Covid-19 positive. However, after various complications in his clinical picture, the patient died.

Likewise, the Health Department reported that positive results for Covid-19 continue to increase on the Island. Six positive tests from the Public Health Laboratory and two from the Veterans Hospital add eight new positive people to the new coronavirus in Puerto Rico. This brings the number up to 31 positives in total.

The cases of the Department of Health correspond to two men, one 43 years old from the metropolitan region and the other 88 from the Mayagüez region, as well as four women. Two of them 30 and 31 years old, respectively, from the metropolitan region, in addition to a 76-year-old woman from the Caguas region and another 58 from the Ponce region.

On the other hand, the two cases of the Veterans Hospital refer to two men, one 49 and the other 26 years old. These are added to 11 other positive results to date at the federal hospital, of which only one is a 55-year-old female; for a total of 13.

The National Guard Quarantined 45 Travelers Arriving at the Luis Muñoz Marín Airport

March 22,2020

The National Guard has quarantined 45 travelers who arrived on the island through the international airport Luis Muñoz Marín , in Carolina, La Fortaleza reported this afternoon.

According to a press release, since the military began screening at the airport last week, 61 people have been referred to the triage area and nine people have undergone the coronavirus test, yielding negative.

It was also reported that the National Guard began screening at the Ceiba airport today, thus joining the Carolina, Rio Grande and Ponce airports, where travelers' temperatures are taken.

For this management, the military corps began to count on the support of a group of medical students from Puerto Rico.

Soto also said that at the Luis Muñoz Marín airport the Fever Early Warning System (SATF) was installed, which serves to detect the temperature of people through thermographic cameras using an infrared sensor.

Earlier, the Health Department confirmed that coronavirus cases on the island number 23 , out of 275 tests carried out.

Another 183 tests returned negative and 69 are awaiting the results.

The last two reported cases are of a woman and a man of 54 and 75 years, respectively, from the Mayagüez region.

Puerto Rico Reports the First Death from the Coronavirus

March 21, 2020

The Health Department reported today, Saturday, that the 68-year-old Italian tourist who arrived in Puerto Rico on the Costa Luminosa cruise ship and tested positive for the COVI-19 coronavirus has died.

The Ashford Presbyterian Community hospital in Condado, where the patient was being held, confirmed her death in a press release sent by La Fortaleza.

"Despite the fact that he was offered all the necessary medical care, the presence of other risk elements in his condition, which we will not discuss for reasons of privacy, prevented his recovery," read the written statements.

The medical director of the institution, Dr. Rafael González, assured that, at this time, they do not have COVID-19 positive patients in the institution.

The death was reported by the hospital to Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta.

Meanwhile, health officials confirmed that the positive cases of coronavirus increased to 21 today, Saturday. Of these, 11 are from the Veterans hospital.

Puerto Rico:124 Arrested for Violations

Puerto Rico Confirms the Sixth Case of the Virus on Wednesday

March 18, 2020

The Veterans Hospital confirmed this Wednesday that it has a positive patient to test for the new coronavirus strain (COVID-19) , bringing the number of people with this disease to six in Puerto Rico.

The patient is a veteran who was discharged "based on his clinical status with instructions for quarantine and self-care at home in accordance with the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)," The Veterans Public Affairs Officer, Rafael Contreras, reported in written communication.

The official added that 38 patients have been tested for this disease. He added that the risk of transmission to other patients and staff "remains low, since the veteran is being treated in isolation by staff specially trained in the latest treatment guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and using protective equipment infection control techniques and personnel ”.

Contreras explained that after learning of this case, the administration of the Caribbean Veterans Health System he made the decision to suspend ambulatory care services and non-emergency elective procedures at the Veterans Hospital as a precautionary measure. This does not apply to the emergency area, which is still operating.

In a press conference held this afternoon, the state epidemiologist, Carmen Deseda, reported that there are 26 new cases of individuals being cared for at the Veterans Hospital . Of these, 10 have returned negative results in the test, and is still awaited by the rest of the analyzes.

 

March 18, 2020

Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced requested on Wednesday the administrator of the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA), Stephen Marshall Dickson, to suspend domestic and international flights to Puerto Rico for 14 days due to the coronavirus (COVID-19 ).

According to a La Fortaleza press release, the first executive also asked the FAA to allow the Puerto Rico government to close the airports where the Puerto Rico National Guard is not evaluating passengers.

"Until a few days ago, we had no cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus, and now, due to the arrival of tourists, both by boat and by plane, we have five positive cases. We do not want more cases in Puerto Rico, and the only way to Preventing more people infected with this virus from coming is taking greater controls regarding the arrival of travelers, "said Vázquez Garced

Likewise, the governor demanded an official response to a letter that she sent to the federal agency on March 4, in which she asked to redirect all charter flights, from jurisdictions affected by the virus to three airports : Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport , Rafael Hernández de Aguadilla Airport and Isla Grande Airport.

If the FAA agrees to the government's request, then the rest of the regional airports that do not have the presence of the National Guard would also close, according to the press spokesman for the Ports Authority, José Carmona.

The regional airports that would close are: Mercedita International Airport, in Ponce; José Aponte de la Torre Airport, in Ceiba; Antonio "Nery" Juarbe Airport, in Arecibo; Antonio Rivera Rodríguez Airport, in Vieques; Eugenio María de Hostos Airport, in Mayagüez and Benjamín Rivera Noriega Airport, in Culebra.

Likewise, the governor requested that the FAA allow the local government to prohibit all general and chartered aviation flights at all airports, except for air ambulances, law enforcement agency flights, and military flights.

The National Guard yesterday officially deployed some 280 members of its team to evaluate each of the passengers at the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus on the island.

 

Plaza Las Américas & Plaza del Caribe Close Operations

March 15, 2020

The Plaza Las Américas and Plaza del Caribe shopping centers announced that from today at 6:00 pm they will close operations until March 30.

“For us, the well-being and safety of our visitors, employees and tenants is our priority. For this reason, we support the measures implemented by the Governor related to social distancing and the closure of all businesses for a period of two weeks, " according to Jaime Fonalledas, president of both shopping centers.

Both shopping centers gave the option for banks and restaurants with access to the outside of the shopping center to remain open.

n the case of Plaza Las Américas, some Torre de Plaza offices, including those for medical services, and the Walgreens pharmacy, may operate during special hours. The management of the shopping center recommended that people contact the offices to find out the particular hours of each office, laboratory or pharmacy.

"We urge all of our visitors and employees to follow the recommendations of health experts to effectively address this emergency. We are confident that these measures will be the key to eradicating the spread of the coronavirus in Puerto Rico and allowing us to return to normal as soon as possible, "added Fonalledas.

 

Wanda Vázquez decrees curfew for all of Puerto Rico to contain the coronavirus

March 15, 2020

Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced today decreed a curfew, which will take effect this Sunday, starting at 9:00 pm, as a preventive measure to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus among the population.

At a time when four cases of the novel disease have already been confirmed on the island and at least 17 suspected cases, Vázquez Garced highlighted the need to restrict the movement of citizens and thus control the agglomeration of people.

The curfew will be in effect from 9:00 pm to 5:00 am until March 30, the president reported in a television message.

“All citizens must remain in their homes and, in this way, contribute to preventing the spread of this virus. That is everyone's responsibility, ” said Vázquez Garced.

"Given the possibility of transmission and spread of the virus even from people who do not have symptoms, we have to take all precautions not to become potential carriers," said the governor.

Only authorized people may pass through the streets for employment reasons or in cases of emergencies, he explained.

Likewise, the governor ordered the closing of shops from 6:00 pm, with the exception of establishments dedicated to the sale of food, wholesale distribution, sale of medical equipment, pharmacies, supermarkets, gas stations, banking institutions and those related to the food, medicine, medical items or fuel distribution chain .

"This closing order applies to shopping malls, cinemas, concert halls, theaters, gyms, game rooms, casinos, stipend businesses for alcoholic beverages," said Vázquez Garced.

The handling of the emergency caused by the coronavirus caused Vázquez Garced to dismiss on Friday the Secretary of Health, Rafael Rodríguez Mercado.

Government Orders Quarantine of People That May Have Been in Close Range of A Panama Doctor

March 12, 2020.

The Panamanian doctor who traveled to Puerto Rico and who returned to his country tested positive for coronavirus (Covid-19) was at a dance at the Sheraton Hotel in Miramar and on Zalsa National Day, Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced confirmed last night.

In this situation, on the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the president signed an executive order for all people who attended the salsa festival who were in the VIP ranks, in front of the platform and sitting on lines K to W of the Hiram Bithorn stadium, they must remain under distance for 14 days.

This care period is completed on March 22 or until "further notice," he announced. About 25,000 to 30,000 people attended this activity, Vázquez confirmed.

The first executive's statements emerged just hours after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus as a pandemic and minutes before the President of the United States, Donald Trump, announced strong restrictions for travelers.

Vázquez's executive order also applies to those who attended the Bailable Rumbo al Nacional last Saturday, held at the Sheraton Hotel, in the Convention District.

The 56-year-old Panamanian doctor left Panama for Miami on February 26, and on the 29th he traveled from Miami to New York, where he stayed until March 4, when he returned to Panama. The next day, he flew with four other people from Panama to Puerto Rico and they stayed in a residence located on the edge of Baldorioty de Castro Avenue, in Isla Verde.

Vázquez added that the doctor narrated that, last Sunday, although his fever and general discomfort in his body increased, he attended the National Day of Zalsa, where he stayed until 4:00 in the afternoon. “He was sitting in row M. There his symptoms worsened, feeling too feverish. He withdraws from row M, seats 6 and 7, according to his best memory. On Monday the 9th, they will board the Copa line flight, flight 142 to Panama, in the afternoon, ”added the first executive.

A person on board a cruise ship who docked at San Juan dock dies

March 10, 2020

The Port Authority was informed this afternoon of an emergency situation aboard the Celebrity Edge cruise ship, where an older adult died, apparently from natural causes, while two other passengers presented medical conditions , said office spokesman José Carmona.

The spokesman said the situation has nothing to do with the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) reported internationally.

When the ship docked at the pier at about 4:00 pm 2 people were transported to a hospital. One had renal bleeding and another had heart difficulties, Carmona said.

According to the Celebrity Edge itinerary, the ship passed yesterday at sea after sailing from Fort Lauderdale, Florida on March 8. The San Juan pier was included in the itinerary as part of the crossing.

In a press release, the executive director of Ports, Joel Pizá Batiz, said that “the cruise complied with the new guidelines announced by Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced, to notify of any death or sick person on board before arriving at the dock 4E of San Juan. In addition, the ship notified of a passenger with heart problems, and another with bleeding, which required medical care. Both death on board and the other two passengers with medical situations are common on cruise ships and are not related to the COVID-19 coronavirus . ”

Tests of Suspected Coronavirus Patients May Take Up to Friday to Arrive

March 10, 2020

The "task force" team that manages the emergency of the coronavirus reported today, Tuesday, that the four patients suspected of having COVID-19 on the island "are improving satisfactorily."

At the time, the group indicated that the tests to check if they suffer from the virus will arrive sometime between today and Friday.

This was established by the Secretary of Health, Rafael Rodríguez Mercado , who in the middle of a press conference stressed that people underwent antibiotic therapy as part of the treatment.

"Of the four patients, the Italian lady who is in a hospital is improving significantly. She is responding to antibiotic treatment. It seems she had a bacterial pneumonia. She is improving. Her husband is still in an asymptomatic condition , " said the official.

On the others, he affirmed that "the veteran presented atrial fibrillation. He was taken to Mayagüez where he is improving significantly and his antibiotic therapy began. Another patient from the metro area ... After having all the tests he tested negative. The last tests were done previous wikén ".

The first suspicious case was reported last Sunday when the Italian tourist arrived on the island aboard a cruise ship and presented a clinical picture similar to the symptoms caused by the virus originated in China

Both the female and her husband, who approached the Costa Luminosa, underwent a medical process to perform tests to confirm whether or not they possess the virus.

The third case was a cancer patient to whom the Department of Health agreed to do the tests, after they transcended a public request from the oncologist Fernando Cabanillas to administer the exams given to the clinical picture he presented.

Until this morning, the coronavirus had spread about 116,455 people worldwide. Meanwhile, the death toll from the virus exceeds 4,090.

There are 2 More Suspected Coronavirus Cases in PR

March 9, 2020

The Department of Health confirmed two new suspected cases of coronavirus (Covid-19) on the Island, which increased the total number of possible infections to four.

The Secretary of Health, Rafael Rodríguez Mercado, reported that one of the tests was performed on a cancer patient resident in Puerto Rico. The fourth test was administered to an American citizen residing in California, who was transported in a Coast Guard helicopter from a cruise ship to the Mayagüez Medical Center hospital.

Regarding the suspicious case of the Italian woman coming from a cruise ship and staying in isolation in a hospital in the capital, the official explained that, at the moment, the husband has not presented any symptoms.

“Again, we urge citizens to remain calm. It is important that we all take an active role in preventive measures to help prevent the spread of diseases, such as frequent hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, ”said Rodríguez Mercado.

On the other hand, Rodríguez Mercado reported that the new guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now allow Covid-19 tests, even if the person has no travel history

The secretary also indicated that the new guide has already been sent to all doctors, through the College of Surgeons of Puerto Rico and the Hospital Association.

In the event that the results of such tests are negative and the patient shows a picture of watery respiratory disease that requires hospitalization, the regional epidemiologist will be contacted to have the Covid-19 test performed even if the person does not have a travel history.

An Italian is the first suspected case of coronavirus in Puerto Rico

March 8, 2020

Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced confirmed today the first suspected case of the new coronavirus strain (Covid-19) in Puerto Rico, so the protocol established for the management of this infection was activated.

This is an Italian tourist who arrived on the island today on the Costa Luminosa cruise ship from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, who stopped at a pier in San Juan. The governor reported that the woman was treated at Ashford Hospital by presenting symptoms of Covid-19.

"This person, apparently, during the trajectory already near Puerto Rico, had a picture of pneumonia," said the president.

The patient is in isolation, as is her husband, who has no symptoms. Both samples were taken to identify Covid-19, which will be sent tomorrow to Atlanta.

Previously, there had been reports of cases under surveillance because they had respiratory symptoms similar to coronavirus, but it was determined that they did not meet the clinical criteria to justify being tested for Covid-19.

The World Health Organization (WHO) had confirmed 106,893 cases of Covid-19 in 103 countries and territories until today at 8:30 pm Among the cases identified, 3,639 deaths have been reported worldwide.

Today, the federal State Department issued a warning to deter people, particularly older adults and those with chronic conditions.

 

Coast Guard repatriates 29 migrants to Samaná, Dominican Republic, following 2 at-sea interdictions off Puerto Rico

March 4, 2020.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The Coast Guard repatriated 29 migrants to Samaná, Dominican Republic Monday night, following the interdiction of two illegal migrant voyages by Caribbean Border Interagency Group law enforcement crews, just off the west coast of Puerto Rico.

The interdictions are the result of ongoing efforts in support of Operation Caribbean Guard and the Caribbean Border Interagency Group (CBIG).

“The close coordination and collaboration between the Coast Guard, the Puerto Rico Police and Dominican Republic officials resulted in two successful interdictions as well as the quick and safe return of all the migrants,” said Capt. Eric P. King, Sector San Juan commander. “We remain vigilant alongside our fellow CBIG and Dominican Republic Navy partners to protect our nation’s maritime borders and stop these illegal voyages, which greatly endanger the lives of all migrants.”

During a routine patrol of the Mona Passage Saturday, the Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Doyle (WPC-1133) witnessed a suspect go-fast transiting at high speed while making erratic maneuvers off the west coast of Desecheo Island. Cutter Joseph Doyle interdicted the 26-foot go-fast vessel and embarked the four men of Dominican Republic nationality who were on board.

A Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action marine unit interdicted a second migrant vessel with Dominican Republic nationals on board Sunday morning just off the coast of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. Cutter Joseph Doyle arrived on scene shortly thereafter and embarked all 25 migrants, 20 men and five women, from the 26-foot makeshift boat due to safety of life at sea concerns.

he cutter Joseph Doyle transported the migrants to Dominican Republic waters in Samaná, where they were repatriated at sea to a Dominican Republic Navy vessel.

Doctors Receive Today Update of the Protocol in Case of Suspected Coronavirus

March 2, 2020

At a time when the confirmation of cases of people With the virus expands in the Caribbean, around 11,500 doctors, members of the College of Surgeons of Puerto Rico (CMCPR) will receive today the fifth version of the protocol that they must follow if they identify a person with coronavirus signs (COVID-19).

Dr. Víctor Ramos, president of the College, warned yesterday that the most recent data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (DCD) shows that the majority of coronavirus patients had no symptoms or presented mild symptoms.

"That changes the rules of the game," he said, "because it makes a virus that is very easy to expand, especially if it is transmitted by people who have no symptoms." However, he stressed that the preventive recommendations for citizens remain the same as those applied to prevent influenza, such as constant hand washing, surface cleaning and use the elbow area to cover up when coughing.

In the fifth version of the protocol, Ramos explained, it establishes as a risk factor if the travel history of the person being examined includes countries such as Iran, Italy, Japan and South Korea, in addition to China, where the outbreak of the virus.

Ramos said that if a person arrives at a medical office, a clinical laboratory or even a pharmacy, for example, presenting the symptoms and having a travel history to any of the countries mentioned, that person must be referred to the hospital.

“In the hospital, he will be placed in isolation, if he meets the criteria. The epidemiology and biosafety staff of the Department of Health will take the corresponding samples (from coronavirus) plus the usual samples of influenza, mycoplasma and other conditions, ”said the doctor. The results of that exam would take between 24 and 48 hours.

“If the person is suspicious and has a mild illness, he would be sent home in what is called home quarantine. If COVID-19 were positive, it will be 14 days in that quarantine and every day biosafety personnel (at the residence) would go to check the temperature and if there has been an evolution of symptoms, ”he continued. During home quarantine, the person must be isolated from the rest of the family members, who would also be monitored.

The CDC maintains an active quarantine station at the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in Carolina, whose jurisdiction includes all ports on the island and the US Virgin Islands. According to CDC figures, Puerto Rico receives 480,000 passengers on international flights per year, as well as 1.5 million international passengers and cruise ship crews in the ports

Police have not corroborated the identity of the transgender woman killed in Toa Baja

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Puerto Rican Kills His Family and Commits Suicide in Orlando

February 21, 2020

A federal officer of Puerto Rican origin murdered his family and committed suicide,  in Orange County, in Orlando, Florida.

When police arrived at the residence on Corner Glen Drive, after reports that the family had not been seen for several days, they found the lifeless bodies of a woman, a man and two teenagers.

Police reported that the man shot a woman and two teenagers and then committed suicide.

The victims and the suspect were identified as: Marielis Soto, 38, Gabriel Almodovar, 12, Ezequiel Almodovar Jr., 16, and former agent Ezequiel Almodovar, 39.

The suspect worked for Customs and Border Protection and was assigned to the Orlando International Airport.

Developing Story: Shots Fired in Front of Puerto Rico's Capitol

February 19, 2020

A person who was in the Annex of the House of Representatives told police investigators that he saw an individual in a light blue Toyota Rav 4 bus that slowed down and pulled a gun out the window and started shooting.

According to the police report, the shooting occurred at 7:20 in the morning and the guy who aimed was wearing a white long-sleeved shirt.

Witnesses saw the individual in the bus when he lowered the glass and fired from Muñoz Rivera Avenue, towards the Annex of the Chamber

According to the Police, there were 10 bullet shells from a  40 caliber.

The case will be investigated by agents of the Homicide Division of the CIC of San Juan.

Coast Guard ends search for missing fisherman off Guanica, Puerto Rico

February 19, 2020

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Coast Guard rescue crews ended the search Tuesday night for a missing fisherman in waters three nautical miles south of Guanica, Puerto Rico.

Still missing is Marcos Mattei Garcia, a 45-year-old man and resident of Guanica, who reportedly was last seen fishing at 3 p.m. Sunday, aboard a 22-foot center console Robalo fishing boat, and he did not return to the Guanica boat ramp at 6 p.m. when he was expected.

 

“We are sadden that our search efforts concluded without finding Mr. Mattei Garcia, and we pray for his family and loved ones with the hope they find peace, strength and closure during this most difficult time.” said Cmdr. Beau Powers, Sector San Juan chief of response. “I commend the effort and dedication of all Coast Guard and local agency responders for giving their all in this search as they do day in and day out to assist people and mariners in distress.”

Watchstanders at Sector San Juan were initially contacted by a friend of the overdue fisherman at 8 p.m. Sunday, who reported Mattei Garcia was last seen at 3 p.m. Sunday. His vehicle and boat trailer were found parked at the Guanica boat ramp.

During a first light search Monday, the crew of a Coast Guard rescue helicopter located the fisherman’s vessel on the rocks near El Palo Cay in Lajas, Puerto Rico. The vessel was flooded with water, and had fishing gear and lifejackets inside.

Coast Guard rescue crews conducted 29 air and surface searches covering over 2,712 square nautical miles, more than half the size of Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico Emergency Management and Puerto Rico Police rescue crews also responded to this case.

Coast Guard rescue crews conducted 29 air and surface searches covering over 2,712 square nautical miles, more than half the size of Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico Emergency Management and Puerto Rico Police rescue crews also responded to this case.

 

Thousands of Houses in Guanica, the epicenter of the January Earthquake to be Demolished

February 17, 2020

After all the tremors that occurred in the southwest area, the mayor of Guánica, Santos "Papichy" Silk, revealed today that about 3,200 homes that have been inspected in the municipality, have been designated for demolition by structural engineers.

Silk said in La Fortaleza that about 6,000 homes have been evaluated in total and stressed that it is urgent to work with emotional and structural recovery. He reaffirmed that Guánica lost a lot as a result of the earthquakes reported in the southwest.

“Right now we are identifying all these properties that we are going to claim (because) they represent some danger either because they are on public roads, because they represent damage to the health of a constituent or to a neighbor when he is going to collapse. Those are the properties that we are going to be claiming for an emergency and as for those the process must run with greater agility, ”he said.

As for the Agripina Seda public school, which collapsed with the 6.4 magnitude earthquake occurred on January 7, Seda said that governor Wanda Vázquez Garced ordered its demolition, something that he expects to happen within the next two weeks.

Similarly, he mentioned that the Government Center and the Aurea Quiles Claudio School will also be demolished. In addition, about 40 apartments of the residential Luis Muñoz Rivera will be demolished and 160 must be remodeled.

 

FBI Siezes Evidence of Cyber Attack in San Juan's Minillas Government Center

February 14, 2020

Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) went to the Minillas Government Center in San Juan this afternoon to seize computers and other evidence as part of the hacking investigation that took place in the Retirement Systems Administration and that could result in the theft of about $ 4 million of public funds.

The administrator of the Retirement Systems, Luis Collazo Rodríguez, confirmed that the intervention of federal officials and said that since January 23 the federal agency has requested access to the agency's systems as part of the investigation.

This morning the Secretary of Economic Development and Commerce (DDEC), Manuel Laboy, fired three employees of the agency that were involved in the thymus that occurred against the Industrial Development Company (Pridco) and the Company of Promotion and Export (CCE) and that could have resulted in the loss of about $ 2.7 million.

63-year-old Woman Dies on Cruise Ship that Docked in San Juan

February 13, 2020

Authorities are investigating the death of a passenger on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship that is stranded at Pier 3 in San Juan, police said.

According to preliminary information, the 63-year-old woman died while on the Allure of the Seas.

Police were alerted to the incident at 3:52 pm Wednesday

The cause of death is under investigation. 

FCC Sets Process for $691 Million Investment in Fixed Puerto Rico, USVI Networks

February 11, 2020

SAN JUAN — The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Wireline Competition Bureau established the procedures for its investment of up to $691.2 million over the next 10 years to support the deployment of advanced, hardened broadband and voice networks in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

This is the second stage in the agency’s rollout of support to Puerto Rico and the USVI. This stage allocates more than $500 million over 10 years in fixed broadband support through the Uniendo a Puerto Rico Fund. It also allocates more than $180 million over 10 years for fixed broadband support through the Connect USVI Fund.

The FCC explained in a press release Thursday that this funding stage will use a competitive process to award support for fixed voice and broadband services “based on the weighting of price and network performance, including speed, latency, and usage allowance.”

The commission said it will release an application form, instructions and announce the application deadline soon, following approval by the Office of Management and Budget. The FCC allocated up to $258.8 million for mobile service, including 5G, in the islands over a three-year period.

“Laying out this clear, manageable, and predictable process will ensure we get the best impact possible from this investment of funds. Bridging the digital divide is the agency’s top priority under Chairman Ajit Pai and we’ve put a special emphasis on helping connect Americans in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands,” Kris Monteith, chief of the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau, said in Thursday’s release.

“This investment will help ensure that those living in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands will have access to and benefit from the same high-speed broadband services that residents of the mainland United States enjoy,” the release adds.

Coast Guard, United Kingdom Royal Navy, U.S. law enforcement partners apprehend 9 smugglers, seize $46.2 million in cocaine in the Caribbean Sea

February 5, 2020

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The Coast Guard, United Kingdom Royal Navy and U.S. law enforcement partners seized 1,400 kilograms (3,086) pounds of cocaine and detained nine suspected smugglers following the interdiction of two separate drug smuggling events in the Caribbean Sea Jan. 24 and Jan. 30, 2020.

The seized drug shipments are estimated to have a wholesale value of more than $46.2 million.

The interdiction was a result of an international, multi-agency law enforcement effort in support of Operation Unified Resolve, Operation Caribbean Guard, Campaign Martillo (a joint, interagency, 20-nation collaborative counter-narcotic effort), and the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force (CCSF), and will be prosecuted by the U.S. Federal District Court for the District of Puerto Rico.

“These interdictions highlight the importance of working with our allied partners such as the United Kingdom Royal Navy, as well as our joint interagency collaboration with the Department of Defense and our local and federal law enforcement in the region, said Rear Adm. Eric C. Jones, commander of the Coast Guard Seventh District. “These efforts, underpinned by our unwavering resolve to stop drug smuggling vessels at sea, greatly contribute to safeguarding our citizens in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and protecting our shared interests of a safer and more secure Caribbean.”.

“These large drug seizures make our community safer by keeping the narcotics out of our neighborhoods. We commend all of our partner agencies for their steadfast efforts.”

In the first interdiction, the United Kingdom’s Royal Navy RFA Mounts Bay (L3008), while on patrol with a U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) and a Coast Guard Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron (HITRON) armed helicopter onboard, detected two suspicious go-fast vessels, approximately 74 nautical miles south of St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands.

In the second interdiction, a marine patrol aircraft detected a northbound target of interest, southeast of Isla Beata, Dominican Republic. The cutter Bear along with a helicopter responded to interdict the go-fast. Cutter Bear’s Over the Horizon cutter boat and embarked helicopter arrived on scene and stopped the go-fast. Cutter Bear’s boarding team detained the two men aboard the go-fast, after discovering 13 bales of suspected contraband.

 

 

Coast Guard medically evacuates man experiencing possible heart attack from Vieques, Puerto Rico

February 5, 2020

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The Coast Guard medically evacuated a 47-year-old man from Vieques, Puerto Rico Tuesday night.

Coast Guard Sector San Juan watchstanders received a medevac request from local authorities for the man, reported to be a U.S. citizen and resident of Vieques, who was experiencing symptoms of a potential heart attack and required a higher level of medical care from local hospital on the main island of Puerto Rico. A Coast Guard MH-65D helicopter crew from Air Station Borinquen responded to the call and arrived at Vieques to conduct the medevac.

The helicopter crew safely transported the man to the Fernando Luis Ribas Dominicci airport in San Juan, where he was received by awaiting emergency medical services personnel, who in turn transported the man to a local hospital in the municipality of Bayamon.

“Tonight’s medevac went very well,” said Lt. j.g. William Cox, MH-65 Dolphin helicopter co-pilot for the case “We commend the professionalism of EMS services in Vieques and at San Juan in caring for and facilitating the smooth transfer of the patient which ensured a successful medevac. Our crew is very happy to have been able to help this gentlemen get to the higher level of care he required.

Coast Guard interdicts 69 illegal migrants following 3 at-sea interdictions near Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic

5 of the interdicted migrants face possible federal prosecution in Puerto Rico

February 4, 2020

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The Coast Guard Cutter Valiant (WMEC-616) repatriated 44 of 69 Dominican migrants to a Dominican Republic Navy vessel Monday, following the interdiction of three separate illegal migrant voyages near Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

Five of the interdicted migrants will remain in Puerto Rico to face possible federal prosecution on charges of violating 8 U.S.C. § 1326 for Attempting to Illegally Re-enter the United States after a Prior Removal, which may carry a potential maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years and a fine of up to $250,000.

The interdictions were a result of ongoing efforts in support of Operation Unified Resolve, Operation Caribbean Guard and the Caribbean Border Interagency Group (CBIG).

These makeshift vessels were extremely overloaded and had been at-sea for several days," said Lt. Matthew Monahan, U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Richard Dixon commanding officer (WPC-1113). "Those aboard had no food or water left and were likely abandoned by the individual promising them passage to Puerto Rico once the vessel ran out of fuel. These survivors were lucky to be located in time to receive aid from Coast Guard personnel, but this is frequently not the case. This is just another example of why this type of journey is exceptionally hazardous and should not be attempted under any circumstances."

The first interdiction took place Jan. 28, 2020, after a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air and Marine Operations marine patrol aircraft crew sighted a 22-foot migrant boat disabled and adrift, approximately 45 nautical miles northwest of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. The cutter Richard Dixon interdicted the illegal voyage and embarked all 13 migrants, 11 men and two women.

he second interdiction took place Wednesday, after a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air and Marine Operations DHC-8 marine patrol aircraft crew sighted a 30-foot migrant boat disabled and adrift, approximately 12 nautical miles southwest of Desecheo Island, Puerto Rico. Cutter Richard Dixon interdicted the illegal voyage and embarked all 37 migrants, 32 adult males and five females, including a 17-year-old minor.

The third interdiction took place Thursday, after the crew of a Coast Guard HC-144 Ocean Sentry marine patrol aircraft sighted a 30-foot migrant boat disabled and adrift, approximately 37 nautical miles south of Isla Saona, Dominican Republic. The Coast Guard Cutter Valiant (WMEC-621) interdicted the illegal voyage as a Dominican Republic Navy vessel also responded to the scene. Once on scene, the crew of the Dominican Navy vessel embarked the migrants for their return to the Dominican Republic.

 

Former Mayor of Gurabo Found Guilty at Federal Level for Corruption

February 3, 2020

The former mayor of Gurabo, Victor "Manolito" Ortiz Díaz, was convicted of corruption on Monday for receiving money from a municipal contractor.

Specifically, the jury composed of nine women and three men found the former municipal executive guilty in charge of receiving something of value in his role as an agent of a government that receives federal funds. On the other hand, he was exonerated for the extortion charge.

The facts of this case date back to October 2012, when the then-mayor for the New Progressive Party (PNP) met with the then municipal contractor Pedro Díaz and extorted him by conditioning the payment of the money owed to him by the municipality, in return Diaz gave him $ 125,000 as a loan, to invest in a telecommunications antenna project, designed by Miguel Merced, which turned out to be fraudulent.

The jury withdrew to deliberate at about 12:30 noon, after hearing the final arguments of the defense and the Prosecutor's Office, who has the weight to demonstrate that the evidence holds beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime Extortion.

" This is a case about who tells the truth, " said lawyer Lydia Lizarribar, trying to argue with the jury that the evidence presented by the federal prosecution had failed to prove her case "beyond a reasonable doubt.

According to the evidence presented and testimonies, the Municipality of Gurabo had withheld at least eight invoices since February 2012 to the Supreme Construction Corp. company, of which Díaz owned with his father, for lack of funds due to economic problems . After the meeting between Díaz and the mayor, the latter ordered that the invoices be paid and on October 19, 2012 the payments were processed, as well as an additional invoice that was managed and processed the same day.

 

Victor "Manolito" Ortiz Díaz

Government estimates that in 60 days people who lost their homes will be relocated to temporary homes

January 28, 2020

The government today presented a plan so that, in a period of 60 days, which will be fulfilled on March 24, all the people who lost their homes have a safe roof and are aimed at obtaining a new home permanently.

Currently, the government estimates that about 4,600 people remain in shelters after the January 7 earthquake and subsequent aftershocks. There are known at least 325 cases of people who lost their homes due to tremors. The number could increase as home inspections continue.

In other cases, residences exhibit damages that are deemed repairable by inspectors. Between 700 and 800 cases like these have already been identified, according to William Rodriguez, head of the Public Housing Administration.

"In 60 days they must be relocated to a temporary place, " said Rodriguez accompanied by Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced and other agency heads.

For this, the government will open disaster recovery centers in Guánica, Yauco, Guayanilla, Peñuelas, Ponce and Utuado to process, depending on the case, the most convenient help for affected families.

In these centers, people may also have access to an inventory of properties available for sale or rent that is being prepared by the Association of Realtors of Puerto Rico. Similarly, the Tourism Company will offer information on the lodges that, through the Transitional Shelter Assistance Program of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), will shelter those affected by the earthquakes. This assistance will not be available if the person seeks to move to a city in the United States.

In addition to hotels, the government expects to use, mainly, rents through the Section 8 initiative, vacant spaces in public residences, and initiatives for the repair and construction of homes to relocate affected people. A good part of these initiatives would be financed through FEMA and the central government emergency fund.

"The priority is to provide them with a safe home," the governor said during the meeting with the press in La Fortaleza. "The grants have a primary focus of providing assistance to the families of the Southwest so that they have an adequate roof."

Other grants that will be offered include temporary storage of belongings, subsidized mortgage loans and moving expenses for those who need relocation. The contributions of $ 2,500 for small businesses affected by the earthquakes and unemployment assistance had already been announced.

 

 

Plane Suffers Mishap when Taking Off from Luis Muñoz Marín Airport in San Juan

January 25, 2020

The front rubber of a plane exploded last night "just moments" from its take off at the Luis Muñoz Marín Airport in Carolina.

This was a separate incident to the one that occurred at the Isla Grande airport, Friday night, where an aircraft hit a fence when it was leaving the runway.

The incident the Luis Munoz airport, according to authorities occurred around 11:50 pm on Friday and it was a Lear Jet 55 model aircraft being used as Air Ambulance plane.

None of the seven passengers on board suffered any injuries.

 

 

New York Tourist drowns in Vieques

January 24, 2020

A tourist from New York drowned this morning on the Cayo Tierra beach, which is located in the Esperanza neighborhood, in Vieques, according to police.

According to the preliminary report, the victim is an elderly man and, at the moment, has not been identified.

The incident was reported at about 10:30 am today, so the authorities remain on the scene.

The north coast of Vieques is under a high risk of sea currents due to a strong swell of the north that is part of a cold front that affects the island.

Agents assigned to the Criminal Investigation Corps of the Fajardo Area, together with the prosecutor on duty, will take over the investigation.

Police Use Tear Gas at Protesters in Front of La Fortaleza

January,24,2020

Police launched tear gas over night against protesters who continued in front of La Fortaleza after the demonstration that began in the afternoon at the Capitol.

The incident between the Police and the Protesters occurred at about 11:00 pm.

Police Commissioner Henry Escalera said in an interview for NotiCentro that the decision was made to disperse the protesters after objects were thrown at officers. He argued that 14 warnings were made before the gases were released.

He added that a policeman was injured and received three stitches in his hand.

A few minutes after midnight, the police began their withdrawal from the area. There are no reports of arrests.

The scene is an echo of how several of the protests culminated last summer, when thousands of people protested demanding the resignation of then Governor Ricardo Rosselló after the publication of the Telegram chat that he had with several of his closest advisors.

 

 

Man Dies After Receiving Electric Shock in Bayamón

January 23, 2020

A man lost his life after receiving an electrical shock in a building located in front of Vaquero Burger on Betances Avenue, in Bayamón on Thursday afterrnoon.

According to preliminary information, the man performed construction work when he suffered the shock.

At the moment, he has not been identified.

Hundreds Have Gathered Outside 'La Forteleza" Demanding the Resignation of PR Governor

January 20, 2020

Protesters who have been protesting in front of La Fortaleza early decided to march to the Capitol to continue demanding the resignation of Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced for the mishandling of the emergency due to earthquakes and supplies for the victims.

At about 4:00 pm, Vazquez ordered the withdrawal of the three squadrons of the Police Shock Force that moved to the " La Forteleza" to attend to the demonstration.

"I respect the constitutional right of citizens to demonstrate and I trust that my Puerto Rican brothers will do it in order. There is no need for the use of the Shock Force at this time, so I have requested that regular security be withdrawn and maintained. ", Vazquez wrote in her Twitter account.

The police presence was increased after more protesters arrived. Even at one point, a helicopter of the Rapid Action Unit Forces (FURA) circulated around the area.

So far, the police had kept watching the protesters and the agents of the Crash Force were located inside the Red Palace, the building that houses the communications area of ​​La Fortaleza, adjacent to the executive mansion.

"The country is outraged by all the events in which the government has failed us, especially what happened to the warehouse in Ponce and all the stores that must be there," one of the protesters said.

 

Governor Wanda Vazquez Fires the Secretaries of Human Services and Housing

January 19, 2020

Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced announced today, Sunday, the departure  of the Secretary of Human Services, Glorimar Andujar and Secretary of the Department of Housing, Fernando Gil Enseñat in the midst of the crisis in the island due to the emergency caused by the earthquakes.

"There is nothing more important than emergency management and that we have a priority," said the governor when making the announcement during a press conference at the offices of the Bureau of Emergency Management and Disaster Management (Nmead).

The dismissals came after the existence of a warehouse in Ponce was revealed, full of supplies that had not been distributed, some since the emergency after the passage of Hurricane Maria.

At a Sunday morning meeting with her cabinet, Vazquez demanded information about the stores maintained by various agencies, as well as the articles contained in them. However, that information was not provided, she said.

However, Vázquez Garced did not provide specific details about the failures that Andújar and Gil Enseñat committed

“Under my administration, they cannot come with lies. I have a commitment, the public official who is by my side must have the same commitment, ”said the governor.

Yesterday, the discovery of the warehouse in the area of ​​La Guancha caused the departure of the former head of Nmead, Carlos Acevedo. Instead, Vázquez Garced appointed the General Assistant of the National Guard, José Reyes. He also appointed Nino Correa as chief operating officer of the Nmead.

The governor explained that Correa's first mission will be to make an inventory of all the warehouses that are in charge of Nmead. It also has instructions to distribute everything that is in good condition.

Reyes indicated that an inventory of the contents of both the Nmead warehouse in Ponce and another in Guaynabo will be carried out. The official anticipates that supplies will begin to be distributed to those in need as soon as possible.

PR Governor Fires the Commisioner of Emergency Management, Carlos Acevedo

January 18, 2020

Ponce - Amid questions about aid to those affected by the earthquakes, a group of citizens discovered, in the municipality of Ponce, a warehouse with supplies stored two years ago after the passage of Hurricane Maria , which caused Governor Wanda Vázquez to dismiss to the commissioner of the Bureau for Emergency Management and Disaster Management, Carlos Acevedo.

In the warehouse, located in the area of ​​La Guancha, there was bottled water, baby food, cereals, awnings, cots, batteries, propane gas, mini-stoves, sheets, gloves and portable showers, among other necessities. Some of them, such as water and baby food, were expired.

Immediately, Vázquez appointed General José Reyes, general assistant of the National Guard, as commissioner of the NMEAD. Reyes has to be confirmed by the Senate.

The governor also ordered the Secretary of State, Elmer Román, to carry out a "thorough investigation" about allegations of mishandling of supplies. The investigation, which will include an inventory of the warehouse in La Guancha and "any other that exists", should be ready on Monday afternoon.

The alert on the existence of the store transcended on the social network Facebook, through the profile identified as “The Controlling Lion”. By midmorning, citizens began arriving at the place.

After 2:00 pm, citizens - who continued to increase in quantity - managed to open the warehouse. Members of the Police assisted them to do it in an orderly manner.

people celebrated Acevedo's dismissal, but expressed doubts as to whether the commissioner's departure will improve the response to the current emergency.

 

Watch: The moment the supplies warehouse was discovered on Saturday

Coast Guard Medevacs 34-Year-Old Man 75 Miles North of San Juan

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The Coast Guard medevaced a 34-year-old man from the cruise ship, Carnival Pride, Thursday approximately 75 miles north of San Juan.

Coast Guard Sector San Juan watchstanders received a medevac request from the cruise ship, which was approximately 230 miles north of San Juan, stating the man was reportedly suffering from medical complications and needed further medical care. The watchstanders directed the cruise ship to a rendezvous point and directed the launch of a Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew.

The helicopter crew rendezvoused with the cruise ship approximately 75 miles north of San Juan and safely transported the man to awaiting emergency medical services, who took the man to a local hospital in San Juan.

"This case really stretched the range of our MH-65 helicopter," said Lt. Katy Caraway, an Air Station Borinquen helicopter pilot. "This medevac's success was due to the combination of our crew's training and efficiency with Carnival Pride's professional conduct throughout the operation."

Trump Signs Major Disaster Declaration for the Island

January 16, 2020

President Donald Trump signed the major disaster declaration requested by Governor Wanda Vázquez to directly assist residents of the south of the Island affected by recent earthquakes.

This was announced by resident commissioner Jenniffer González Colón, who had sent a letter to the president along with Republican senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio, to request the signing of said statement.

The governor signed last Saturday the declaration of major disaster, after a preliminary assessment of damages estimated at $ 110 million for the constant tremors reported since last December 28.

Vazquez thanked President Trump for signing the major disaster declaration and for his "commitment to help alleviate the suffering of our citizens."

The major disaster declaration includes the aid contained in the Individual Assistance Program (MYP) and the assistance of categories A and B of the Public Assistance Program (PAP), which result in debris removal and emergency protection measures. In addition, the direct assistance of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which was activated with the emergency declaration of January 7, 2020, will be maintained.

The municipalities included to participate in the MYP are: Guánica, Guayanilla, Peñuelas, Ponce and Utuado. Meanwhile, the municipalities will receive PAP assistance and direct federal assistance are: Guánica, Guayanilla, Peñuelas, Ponce, San Germán and Yauco.

Gov. Wanda Vázquez Signs a Major Disaster Declaration Request in Puerto Rico

January 11, 2020

Governor Wanda Vázquez announced this afternoon that she signed the request to the federal government for a declaration of major disaster emergency, after completing a first part of the assessments and estimates of damage from recent earthquakes reported around the island.

At a press conference, Vázquez explained that the number of losses after the estimated damage amounts to $ 110 million, starting from approximately 539 structures that were already affected as a result of the earthquakes

Commissioner Jenniffer Gonzalez and a bipartisan group of federal lawmakers reaffirmed today, in a letter to President Trump, support for the federal government to declare Puerto Rico a disaster zone.

Yesterday the request was made by 53 Democrats and three Republicans.

Today the letter is signed by Commissioner Gonzalez, Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio, and Congressmen Stephanie Murphy, Michael Waltz, Bill Posey, Mario Diaz Balart and Donna Shalala.

Meanwhile, the first executive said that, immediately, for each of the municipalities of Guánica, Guayanilla, Peñuelas, Ponce, Utuado and Yauco, $ 2 million will be transferred to meet the needs of its citizens.

She also announced that the Department of Consumer Affairs issued an order to freeze prices for food and products that are necessary as part of the emergency.

The price freeze order includes, among other things, canned and fresh foods, milk, backpacks, all kinds of farinaceous products, essential products and fuel.

 

 

Endangered collapse 12-story condo in Ponce (Authorities evacuating nearby clinic and surrounding areas)

January 9, 2020

PONCE - Authorities in Puerto Rico evacuated the surroundings of the Ponciana condominium, near the town center of Ponce, in fear of its collapse in the state in which it was left after the earthquake on Tuesday.

The Deputy Mayor of Ponce, Elizabeth Ocasio , said one of the evacuations was the Metro Pavia clinic, which is near the Ponciana, and has 12 floors of apartments.

"The relevant evictions have been made in the surrounding areas so that in the event of collapse - hopefully not - it does not affect anyone in the vicinity," Ocasio added.

Meanwhile, the official said that the Torres building is also considered in danger of collapse, also near the town center.

However, because it has five floors, the extent of the danger it represents in the immediate vicinity does not extend as much as the Ponciana, so they have only evicted the nearest houses.

 

Rick Scott will arrive in Puerto Rico on Friday to observe the damage caused by the earthquake

Washington.- Republican Senator Rick Scott (Florida) plans to travel to Puerto Rico on Friday to examine on the spot the damage caused by this week's earthquakes, which left hundreds of people homeless and half of the island without power.

“I hope to travel to Puerto Rico to get an update on recovery efforts after the devastating earthquakes that have affected the island. As governor, I traveled to Puerto Rico regularly and did my best to help the island recover after the passage of Hurricane Maria. As a senator, I have promised to be the voice of Puerto Rico in the Senate, and I will continue to fight for our brothers and sisters on the island. I hope to continue working with Congresswoman Jenniffer González and Governor Wanda Vázquez to ensure that the island has all the resources it needs, ”Senator Scott said in a press release.

Commissioner Gonzalez, meanwhile, said she coordinating the trip of the Republican senator, to help press for new federal assistance and address the problems created by the electricity supply for the damages suffered by the Costa Sur plant.

Scott is a member of the National Security and Government Affairs committees; Budget; and Commerce, Science and Transportation.

Commissioner Gonzalez said Scott will meet on the Island with Governor Vázquez and government officials from the United States and Puerto Rico. He will also visit southern municipalities and meet with mayors.

On the other hand, the Hispanic Caucus of Congress - which brings together Latino Democrats - is scheduled to meet this afternoon with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, as part of the cameral majority's efforts to pressure the Donald Trump government to disburse thousands of million dollars in funds promised after Hurricane Maria and discuss possible new initiatives in favor of the island.

 

FEMA Sends Water and Food to the Puerto Rico Southern Earthquake Zone

January 8, 2020

About 150 employees of the Federal Emergency Management Agency ( FEMA ) worked this afternoon at their collection centers in Ponce and Caguas to distribute water, food, cots, and friezes to the municipalities in the south of the island that were affected while an Ambulance caravan and heavy machinery was moving towards the south to attend to  the emergency.

Alex Amparo, director of FEMA in Puerto Rico explained that as soon as the president of the United States, Donald Trump , approved the emergency declaration at the request of the governor Wanda Vázquez Garced, the federal agency has activated its protocols to support the mayors of the affected municipalities.

Trump issued the disaster declaration for the earthquake yesterday Tuesday.

In 2017,  FEMA's response to the emergency caused by Hurricane Maria was questioned.

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Tremor of Magnitude 6.6 Shakes Puerto Rico at Dawn on Tuesday

January 7, 2020

A new tremor, this time with a preliminary intensity of 6.5, shook Puerto Rico in the early hours of Tuesday.

Although there was a tsunami warning, it was discontinued minutes later , confirmed the director of the Seismic Network, Víctor Huérfano.

The expert indicated that the warning was issued by security protocols.

A large part of the island without power has been reported immediately. According to the Electric Power Authority, all the plants of the entity "activated their protection mechanisms and have gone out of service".

 Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced urged citizens to remain calm.

Here's what we know so far:

 The damages are severe

One confirmed death in Ponce & a hospital evacuated patients & staff

A Catholic Church, a High School & many historical sites collapsed

The government is open only to emergency & essential employees

Shelters are opened across the island

Power is out in many areas

Stay connected to Freedomcity Times for all the latest developments

PR January 6, 2020 Earthquake: Dozens of Homes Destroyed

January 6, 2020

The mayor of Guánica, Santos "Papichy" Silk, confirmed that five residences in the Esperanza neighborhood of his municipality collapsed after the 5.79 quake that occurred this morning south of this municipality.

According to the municipal executive, one of the structures was two-story and fell completely on top of two vehicles.

Silk indicated that other tremors may occur, so the concern is latent. "We have many residents with these situations," he agreed.

The mayor said he is in communication with Governor Wanda Vázquez and the Bureau of Emergency Management and Disaster Management (Nmead) to allocate the necessary resources.

"Everyone here is on the street, emotionally strong," he described.

The Municipality of Guyanilla reported Monday that a house "collapsed" in the Playa neighborhood of that municipality after the 5.79 quake that occurred in southern Puerto Rico.

The authorities formed a perimeter around the structure, because part of the house would have fallen on vehicles. They are also vigilant for a gas tank that is in place.

Landslides or landslides that have affected traffic on the PR-335 roads from Guayanilla to Yauco and on the PR-2 in front of the Corco were also reported from the south.

In addition, the city council warned of possible damage to the rock formation known as Playa Ventana, a tourist spot in the municipality of Guayanilla.

Power outages were also reported from the Electric Power Service in Peñuelas, Vega Alta, Guaynabo, Naranjito and San Juan. In some of them he returned about 20 minutes later.

 

Coast Guard medically evacuates Queen Mary 2 cruise ship passenger 75 nautical miles north of San Juan, Puerto Rico

January 1, 2020

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The crew of a Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter medically evacuated a U.S. citizen passenger from the Queen Mary 2 cruise ship Wednesday night, approximately 75 nautical miles north of San Juan.

Coast Guard watchstanders at Sector San Juan received the medical evacuation request from the Queen Mary 2, at 2 p.m. Wednesday, for a 68-year-old man who was experiencing a medical emergency which required immediate medical attention at a local hospital.

The Queen Mary 2 was transiting to New York, approximately 268 nautical miles north of San Juan, when the incident was reported to the Coast Guard.

To shorten the distance, Coast Guard watchstanders in Sector San Juan coordinated with the Queen Mary 2 and Air Station Borinquen for a Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter to rendezvous with the cruise ship and conduct the medevac at the predetermined position.

Upon completing the rendezvous with the Queen Mary 2, the helicopter aircrew deployed their rescue swimmer aboard the cruise ship to assess the patient’s condition. The Coast Guard aircrew conducted multiple hoists to bring the patient and his wife aboard the aircraft.

Shortly thereafter, the helicopter landed at the Fernando Luis Ribas Dominicci airport in San Juan, where Emergency Medical Service personnel received and transported the patient and his wife to the Ashford Presbyterian Community Hospital in San Juan.

“I am happy that were were able to help the patient and his partner make it safely to the hospital,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Adam Tootle, MH-65 Dolphin helicopter flight mechanic for the medevac. “The training we complete prepared us well for this mission and for my first successful live hoist.”

Early New Years Day Shooting in Puerto Rico Leaves 4 Dead ( 2 Minors & 2 Adults) in Trujillo Alto

January 1, 2020

Developing Story

Shortly after the start of the new year 2020, a multiple murder was registered in a residence on Camino Los Ramos Street, in the Los Ramos sector, in Trujillo Alto .

Two minors and two adults were killed in circumstances that are beginning to be investigated by the police this morning.

This was reported by the director of the Criminal Investigation Corps of the Carolina area, Carlos Nazario.

The mobile phone was not immediately informed or how the tragedy occurred.

The authorities notified that a minor, who appears as the fifth person involved in the incident, had to be transported to the Río Piedras Medical Center after being shot. At the moment, the child is in stable condition.

On the fatal victims, Nazario commented that the two children killed were twins and that, preliminary investigation revealed that they would be between 9 and 11 years old.

Stay connected to freedomcitytimes.com for more on this story.

Couple Dead in Catamaran Fire in Cabo Rojo

December 31, 2019

A couple died tonight after a catamaran caught fire in the Puerto Real Marina of Cabo Rojo .

The press spokesman for the Fire Department, Brenda Rodríguez, confirmed to El Nuevo Día that the fire has already gone out.

Fire Lieutenant Pedro Rodríguez reported that the vessel was 42 feet long and was called "Miss Adventure." The incident was reported at 6:35 pm

The couple lived in the catamaran. It is believed that they were foreigners. Their identities have not been disclosed until family members are notified.

Agent Israel Arroyo, of the Puerto Rico Police, said the man and woman were, respectively, 70 and 65 years old . One of them died from inhalation and another from burns.

Material losses are estimated at $ 300,000.

The Fire Department and other law enforcement agencies are investigating the incident.

Two Missing Fishermen are Located on the Coast of Culebra

December 30, 2019

The US Coast Guard in San Juan reported on Monday that the search for two fishermen who were lost Sunday to the east of Puerto Rico ended, after some friends of the men located them today.

As detailed by the Coast Guard in a press release, it was the wife of one of the fishermen, identified as Samuel Osorio, who informed them that both navigators had been rescued by friends and returned to the island municipality of Culebra, east of the Caribbean Island.

Osorio and his companion, who was only informed that he was in his 30s, were lost on Sunday when the boat they were traveling on ran out of fuel and capsized near Culebra.

A pair of helicopters and an American Coast Guard aircraft, as well as officers of the United Fast Forces (FURA) of the Police Bureau, joined the search.

It was Osorio's wife who contacted FURA to give details of the accident.

The fishermen were traveling in a boat of 17 feet of length of white and blue

"This event highlights the importance of having a radio communication system to alert about a dangerous event through channel 16," said the Coast Guard command service officer in San Juan in charge of the case, Jaime Balzac.

Balzac explained that Coast Guard guards work 24 hours a day, seven days a week and that they monitor Channel 16 for any emergency situation.

"If a call enters the service, we can listen and respond quickly, which helps to have time and that could be the difference between the life and death of a person," said Balzac.

 

 

Individual Indicted And Arrested For Smuggling Counterfeit And Misbranded Products From China

December 20, 2019

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – On December 12, 2019, a federal grand jury in the District of Puerto Rico returned an indictment against Sameer Bani, charging him with seven counts, including: smuggling, receipt in interstate commerce and proffered delivery of misbranded articles, possession with intent to distibute a controlled substance, trafficking in counterfeit goods, and international money laundering, announced W. Stephen Muldrow, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA), Office of Criminal Investigations is in charge of the investigation with the collaboration of Homeland Security Investigations. Bani was arrested on Monday, December 16, and was granted bail while he awaits trial.

The indictment alleges that on April 2018, defendant Bani fraudulently and knowingly received, concealed, sold, and facilitated the transportation, concealment, and sale of merchandise contrary to law after importation, namely drugs imported from China that were misbranded in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 352(a), in that the drugs’ respective labeling was false or misleading for failure to properly declare active pharmaceutical ingredients, knowing that such merchandise had been imported and brought into the United States contrary to law.

The merchandise that the defendant illegaly imported from China was: Fruta Planta weight loss product containing undeclared sibutramine and phenolphthalein APIs; Li Da DAI DAI HUA weight loss product containing undeclared sibutramine, phenolphthalein, and sildenafil APIs; SlimExtreme Gold weight loss product containing undeclared phenolphthalein API; Enhanced Vegetal Vigra, Horney Lion, Plant Vigra, Paradise Ultra Plus, Lang Yi Hao, ExtenZe, Shanghai Ultra X, Suerosexx, Lobo, and La Pepa Negra male enhancement products containing undeclared sildenafil API.

The indictment further alleges that defendant Bani, aided and abetted by others known and unknown to the Grand Jury, did intentionally traffic in goods and knowingly used a counterfeit mark on and in connection with such goods, namely counterfeit Durex® condom foil wrappers.

Bani made three payments for the misbranded products via electronic transmissions of funds, each payment constituting a separate and distinct international money laundering violation.

“This defendant sold counterfeit and misbranded weight loss pills and misbranded male-enhancement pills. Some of these medications contained drugs that the consumers were not aware of and could endanger their health,” said United States Attorney, W. Stephen Muldrow. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to work with the FDA to protect the public from adulterated and misbranded products, and to ensure that dietary supplement sellers provide accurate information about their products.”

Puerto Rico Will Defy Frederl Ban on Cockfighting & Drafts New Legislation to Keep it Alive

December 18, 2019

San Juan, Puerto Rico — Puerto Rico will defy the U.S. government and approve a law to keep cockfighting alive in a bid to protect a 400-year-old tradition practiced across the island despite a federal ban that goes into effect this week, officials told The Associated Press on Tuesday night.

The move brought cautious rejoicing in the cockfighting business despite concerns that the U.S. territory is trying to override a federal law that President Trump signed a year ago.

"We are certainly challenging a federal law. We know what that implies," Representative Gabriel Rodríguez Aguiló, who co-authored the bill, told the AP.

He said that Governor Wanda Vázquez was scheduled to sign the bill Wednesday morning and that he expected the fight to end up in federal court.

As word spread, those in the cockfighting industry cheered the news.

"There's going to be work!" exclaimed Domingo Ruiz, who owns more than 30 cocks and has spent more than half a century in the business. "We're going to keep the fight alive."

Cockfighting generates an estimated $18 million a year and employs some 27,000 people, according to the bill approved by Puerto Rico's House and Senate.

Puerto Rico has 71 cockfighting establishments in 45 municipalities licensed by the island's Department of Sports and Recreation, said Secretary Adriana Sánchez. She defended the cockfighting tradition and contended the U.S. government banned fights for economic and not animal welfare reasons.

"Their instinct is to fight," she said of people in the business. "The people who dedicate themselves care for them and train them."

Animal rights activists have long pushed to end cockfights in U.S. territories, saying they are cruel and noting they are illegal in all 50 U.S. states.

Wayne Pacelle, founder of the Washington-based Animal Wellness Action, said he doesn't believe the statistics on Puerto Rico cockfighting.

"They are widely exaggerating the economic value," he said. "Watching animals slash each other just for human entertainment and gambling is not judged as a legitimate enterprise by mainstream people."

The measure says it is legal for Puerto Rico to host cockfights as long as people don't export or import cocks or any goods or services related to cockfighting. The latter actions would violate the federal law, based on how Puerto Rico officials interpret it.

"It remains to be seen whether that's how federal authorities understand it," said Representative Luis Vega Ramos.

Vega sought unsuccessfully to amend the measure to add authorization for local officials to not cooperate with federal agents in prosecuting people for cockfighting. But several municipalities, including the capital of San Juan, have authorized municipal police not to crack down on cockfighting.

Mega Yacht Sinks Near Puerto Rico, 4 On Board Rescued by Coast Guard

December 15, 2019

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The crew of a Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen MH-65 Dolphin helicopter rescued four men from a life raft Sunday morning after they were forced to abandon a sinking yacht, approximately 25 nautical miles northwest of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico.

Rescued are four U.S. citizens from Boston and Florida, in their 20’s and 30’s, who reportedly were the only persons traveling aboard the 80-foot yacht Clam Chowder, when the vessel began taking on water and started sinking.

“This rescue highlights the importance of having proper survival gear and the thorough preparation by the crew of the Clam Chowder,” said, Lt. Carlos Gonzalez, MH-65 Dolphin helicopter co-pilot for the case. “Having lifejackets, VHF radios and a raft helped save four lives today.”

At 5:22 a.m. Sunday, watchstanders at Sector San Juan received a VHF radio Channel 16 distress call from the Clam Chowder, reporting the vessel’s stern was mostly under water. Despite having multiple pumps energized, the crew could not keep up with the flooding. The Clam Chowder additionally reported losing power and listing to starboard at which point the Captain ordered the crew to abandon the vessel.

Watchstanders directed the launch of an Air Station Borinquen MH-65 Dolphin helicopter and diverted the fast response cutter Robert Yered (WPC-1104) to search for and rescue the boaters. Watchstanders also issued an Urgent Marine Information Broadcast UMIB to alert marine traffic in the area. The Malta-flagged 680-feet container ship Calais Trader received the UMIB and remained on scene during the rescue monitoring the situation and ready to provide rescue assistance. The Coast Guard helicopter arrived on scene and located all four men safely aboard the life raft.

The Coast Guard aircrew completed multiple hoists using a rescue basket to bring the survivors safely aboard the aircraft. One of the survivors reportedly severed his finger while releasing the life raft from the Clam Chowder.

The survivors were transported to Air Station Borinquen where they were transferred to awaiting Customs and Border Protection and Emergency Medical Service personnel.

Coast Guard Submitted Photos

Go-Fast Vessels Intercepted With Bales of Cocaine Off the Coasts of The Dominican Republic & Puerto Rico

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – U.S. Coast Guard intercepted a vessel with no indicia of nationality on December 5, 2019 attempting to smuggle more than 600 kilograms of cocaine, with an approximated street value of 14 million dollars south of La Romana, Dominican Republic. Coast Guard Cutter (CGC) RELIANCE responded for law enforcement action and three individuals were arrested. The Caribbean Corridor Strike Force is in charge of the investigation of the case.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Silvia Carreño-Coll authorized a complaint charging Jorge Luiz De La Cruz-Acevedo, Freddy Gerardo Fernández-Breth, and Simon Antonio Patino-Rivero with possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance on board a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, announced W. Stephen Muldrow, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico.

Custody of the defendants and the narcotics were transferred over to Special Agents of DEA for further investigation and prosecution. This case is part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program and the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force (CCSF). The CCSF is a multi-agency OCDETF strike force comprised of federal and state law enforcement agencies, including the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Federal Bureau of Investigation, United States Coast Guard, U.S. Marshals Service, Internal Revenue Service, and the Puerto Rico Department of Public Safety.

In a different interdiction that occurred on December 10, 2019, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection/Border Patrol (CBP) surveillance unit spotted a suspected target of interest while conducting border security patrol along the western coast of Puerto Rico. CBP Unit continued surveillance of the vessel while contacting and relaying its position to the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD) Maritime Unit (FURA) to assist with the interdiction. Soon thereafter PRPD FURA “COBRA 54” unit located and stopped the vessel at one (1) nautical mile from Crash Boat Beach in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. The five persons on board, Jesús Ramón Concepción-Guerrero, Miguel Ángel Pourie-Portalatín, Riky Laureano-Ruiz, Israel Herrera-Herrera, and José Manuel Ruiz-Mercedes, and the vessel were detained and towed to the PRPD FURA Unit in Añasco, PR.

After further inspection of the vessel a total of 161 bricks weighing 181.90 kilograms of cocaine were seized, with an approximated street value of four million twenty-five thousand dollars ($4,025,000). U.S. Magistrate Judge Silvia Carreño-Coll authorized a complaint charging the five individuals with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute five (5) kilograms or more of cocaine and possession with intent to distribute five (5) kilograms or more of cocaine.

“During the past two weeks federal and local law enforcement worked together to intercept hundreds of kilograms of cocaine before they reached our shores,” said W. Stephen Muldrow, US Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. “We cannot, and will not, halt our efforts to protect our borders from drug trafficking.”

PUERTO RICO 2019 PROTEST

PUERTO RICO

Coast Guard Rescues Injured Man from Shoreline Rocks at Domes Beach in Rincon, Puerto Rico

December 12, 2019

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The crew of a Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen MH-65 Dolphin helicopter rescued an injured man from the shoreline rocks and high surf at Domes Beach Wednesday afternoon in Rincon, Puerto Rico.

Rescued is a U.S. citizen tourist from Wisconsin, in his early 20’s, who reportedly fell from the rocks into the water. Despite the strong surf breaking over the rocks and sustaining multiple scrapes, bruises and struggled breathing, the man was able to climb back onto the rocks until he was rescued.

“This was a challenging case due to the confined area of where the survivor fell coupled with the crashing swell on the rocks,” said Lt. Carlos Gonzalez, Air Station Borinquen MH-65 Dolphin co-pilot for the rescue. “Our rescue swimmer with the assistance of local EMS personnel did an outstanding job of assessing the situation and assisting with getting the survivor to a higher level of medical care.”

Watchstanders at Sector San Juan were able to speak to a bystander on scene who reported the incident via a 911 call. Watchstanders directed the launch a Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Air Station Borinquen, notified Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action, Puerto Rico Emergency Management Agency and the Rincon Municipal Police of the developing situation and issued an Urgent Marine Information Broadcast to alert nearby vessel traffic of the distress.

Emergency Medical Service responders on scene located the injured person on the rocks but were unable to safely remove him due to the breaking surf and the unknown extent of the survivor’s injuries. The Coast Guard rescue helicopter arrived on scene shortly thereafter and deployed the aircraft rescue swimmer, who made his way around the jagged edge rocks and high surf to reach and assess the man’s condition.

The rescue swimmer secured the man utilizing a rescue harness and they were hoisted together aboard the Coast Guard aircraft. The survivor was transported to Air Station Borinquen, where he was received by awaiting Emergency Medical Service personnel, who transported him to a local hospital to receive further medical assistance.


A Former Puerto Rico Governor Launches Bid for Resident Commissioner Seat

December 11, 2019

SAN JUAN — Former Puerto Rico Gov. Aníbal Acevedo Vilá announced Tuesday that he will be running a campaign to become the island’s representative in the U.S. Congress. A position he once held from 1999 to 2004 before becoming governor.

Acevedo Vila served two terms as governor and was charged in 2009 nine counts of conspiracy, money laundering and lying to the FBI. His monthlong corruption trial drew worldwide attention, but Vila was acquitted of all charges.

“I make myself available for the candidacy for resident commissioner for the Popular Democratic Party,” Acevedo Vilá said in a message on Facebook.

The new candidate for the 2020 elections will face Juan Carlos Albors and Sen. José Nadal Power in the PDP primaries.

 

 

Anibal Acevedo Vila

Coast Guard repatriates 26 Dominican migrants to the Dominican Republic following at-sea interdiction in the Mona Passage

.December 9,2019

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The Coast Guard Cutter Heriberto Hernandez (WPC-1114) repatriated 26 migrants to the Dominican Republic Monday, following the interdiction of an illegal migrant voyage Saturday morning in the Mona Passage.

The interdiction was the result of ongoing efforts in support of Operation Caribbean Guard and the Caribbean Border Interagency Group (CBIG).

The crew of a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air and Marine Operations marine patrol aircraft sighted the illegal migrant voyage, approximately 35 nautical miles south of Mona Island, Puerto Rico. The Coast Guard Cutter Reliance (WMEC-615) diverted to the scene and interdicted the 25-foot migrant boat with 22 Dominican men and four women aboard.

"I'm extremely proud of our crews and our CBP partners who did an excellent job responding to this case and rescuing all 26 occupants aboard this grossly overloaded makeshift vessel," said Cmdr. Beau Power, Sector San Juan chief of response. "The migrants were not wearing lifejackets and they were observed continuously bailing out water from their boat. Unfortunately, this is a common representation of what an illegal migrant voyage looks like each and every day, the conditions of the voyage are extremely dangerous and the migrants are always at risk of losing their lives at any given moment."

The crew of the cutter Reliance transferred the migrants to the cutter Heriberto Hernandez for their repatriation. The migrants were transported to Dominican Republic waters just off Samaná, where they were transferred to a Dominican Republic Navy patrol boat.

Once aboard a Coast Guard cutter, all migrants receive food, water, shelter and basic medical attention.


Coast Guard Crews, Good Samaritan Rescue 1 French National, 1 U.S. Citizen from Sinking Catamaran North of Manati, Puerto Rico

December 7, 2019

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Coast Guard air and surface crews and the crew of the passenger ferry Kydon combined efforts to rescue two boaters from a sinking catamaran Friday night, approximately 10 nautical miles north of Manati, Puerto Rico.

Rescued are a man, French national, and a woman, U.S. citizen, who reportedly were the only persons aboard the 36-foot catamaran, Blue Cocktail, as it was traveling from the Dominican Republic to the British Virgin Islands.

Watchstanders at Sector San Juan received at 7:24 p.m. Friday a mayday radio call from the Blue Cocktail, on VHF Channel 16, reporting the vessel was taking on water and rapidly sinking.

Watchstanders diverted an Air Station Miami HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft, directed the launch of an Air Station Borinquen MH-65 Dolphin helicopter and dispatched a Boat Station San Juan 45-foot Response Boat Medium to search for the boaters and any signs of the Blue Cocktail. Watchstanders also issued an Urgent Marine Information Broadcast UMIB to alert marine traffic in the area. The ocean ferry Kydon received the UMIB and diverted to the area of the distress.

Shortly after the initial distress call, the woman jumped on the dinghy which started drifting away from the catamaran, while the man stayed onboard attempting to control the flooding. The man was forced to abandon the vessel as it started to sink and became partially submerged.

Upon arriving on scene, the crew of the HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft located the man in the water and the woman safely aboard the dinghy. The Coast Guard helicopter arrived on scene shortly thereafter and the aircrew vectored-in the Coast Guard response boat to the survivors' position.

“This was a great case,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Mason Ormsby, Boat Station San Juan response boat coxswain for the rescue. “We were able to work well with on-scene aircraft and with the Captain and crew of the motor vessel Kydon, who gave us a good reference to where to start looking for the submerged vessel. This was a valuable experience for myself and crew to use the skills we’ve been taught in training. Being able to rescue the survivors made it that much more rewarding.”

“This rescue highlights the importance of boaters being equipped with VHF Marine radios ” said Cmdr. Beau Powers, Coast Guard Search and Rescue Mission coordinator for the case. “Mariners cannot be certain that a cellular tower is close enough to receive a cell phone call. In addition to the Coast Guard hearing you on radio on channel 16, local agencies and other mariners will hear you call for help. The mariners in this case were doubly prepared with life jackets which they donned when directed by the Coast Guard. Be prepared when recreating on the water, there is no room for errors at sea.”

Following the rescue, the survivors were transported to San Juan and transferred to Customs and Border Protection personnel with no medical concerns.

December 2,2019

Coast Guard Rescues 2 Kayakers off Ocean Park Beach in San Juan, Puerto Rico

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The crew of a Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen MH-65 Dolphin helicopter rescued two kayakers Sunday morning, in waters just of Ocean Park Beach in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The two men rescued were reported to be tourists, who used a smart watch to relay a distress call to 911, and reported being in the water for several hours after both kayaks began taking on water and ended up sinking.

Watchstanders at Sector San Juan diverted a Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew to the scene, while a Puerto Rico Joint Forces of Rapid Action helicopter also responded. The two kayakers were initially spotted by the crew of the Police helicopter, who vectored in the Coast Guard aircraft to their location.

The Coast Guard aircrew lowered their rescue swimmer and deployed the aircraft rescue basket that was utilized to hoist and recover both men from the water. The men were transported to the Isla Grande Airport in San Juan, where they were received by Emergency Medical Service personnel, and were released to friends after declining further medical assistance.

“The kayakers are very fortunate to have survived,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Austin Hornbruch, an Air Station Borinquen aviation survival technician.

“The survivors were able to use a smart watch to communicate with 911 and Coast Guard watchstanders. After their kayaks sank, they were treading water in unfavorable sea conditions due to not having lifejackets. We commend our Sector San Juan watchstanders and the Puerto Rico Police aircrew, who did an excellent job assisting our crew with the rescue effort.” 

WARNING--- Coast Guard advises people to pay close attention to high-surf and small craft advisories that are currently in effect for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

A northerly swell continues to move into the local Atlantic waters and passages, associated with a strong low pressure system in the Atlantic. Hazardous marine conditions are expected well into Tuesday for much of our local waters.

By Nestor Laurencin

     November 25,2019

UPDATE:Coast Guard suspends search for missing  fisherman off “Caza y Pesca” Beach in Arecibo, Puerto Rico

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Coast Guard rescue crews suspended the search on Wednesday for a missing fisherman in waters just off “Caza y Pesca” Beach in Arecibo, Puerto Rico.

 Missing is Pedro R. Lavezarri a 61 year-old man resident of Arecibo, who reportedly was free diving when he was last seen.

Watchstanders at Sector San Juan were initially contacted by Puerto Rico Emergency Management personnel at 7:21 p.m. Sunday, who reported Lavezarri was last seen in the water at 1 p.m. Saturday and that his vehicle remained parked in the area. Watchstanders directed the launch of a Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Air Station Borinquen and diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Winslow Griesser (WPC-1116) to the area to search.

They also notified transmitted an Urgent Marine Information Broadcast to advise boaters in the area of the situation. Coast Guard assets involved in the search are: MH-65 Dolphin helicopters from Air Station Boriquen Coast Guard Cutter Winslow Griesser .

Anyone with any information on this case should contact the Coast Guard Sector San Juan Command Center at 787-289-2041.

November 20, 2019

For grandfather charged in girl's cruise ship death, surveillance video likely key evidence

A court hearing was held in Puerto Rico Wednesday for the grandfather of a toddler who died after falling from a cruise ship window. Salvatore Anello is charged with negligent homicide in the death of 18-month-old Chloe Wiegand.

The little girl fell more than 100 feet back in July when Anello lifted her up to an open window while the Royal Caribbean ship was docked in San Juan. The family's attorney said Anello thought the window was closed.

Anello stood before a judge Wednesday with an attorney and translator present. No evidence was released. Anello's next court appearance will be on December 17, at which time the court will pick a trial date.

Chloe's family is shocked Puerto Rican prosecutors are holding Anello responsible, their attorney said.

"The family's really not doing well. I think they're really devastated by the fact that these charges have been filed and that this case continues to go forward," said Michael Winkleman, the family's attorney. "They're shocked because they think it's groundless. … They certainly didn't want charges to be filed."

 Winkleman, who is not representing Anello in the criminal case, said despite the family's wishes, prosecutors are pushing forward. The accident was caught on surveillance camera, and although Winkleman thinks the grandfather is not criminally responsible, the prosecutors may be seeing something else, he said.

"You have to assume that it shows something that really led the Puerto Rican authorities to believe there was a criminal offense, so clearly there's something in that video," he said. The video has not been released.

Chloe's family is pointing the finger squarely at Royal Caribbean, accusing the cruise liner of creating a fatal safety hazard. And they're planning to sue.

Winkleman said the little girl's grandfather has already been punished enough. "I think this was a tragic mistake. It will haunt him forever and there's just no reason for charges to have been filed," he said.

Royal Caribbean issued a short statement saying because they expect a lawsuit to be filed, they have no comment. They believe what happened was a tragic accident.

November 19, 2019

Coast Guard repatriates 23 migrants to the Dominican Republic following at-sea interdiction in the Mona Passage

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The Coast Guard repatriated 23 of 28 Dominican migrants to the Dominican Republic Navy in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, following the interdiction of an illegal migrant voyage in the Mona Passage.

Five of the interdicted migrants remain in Puerto Rico to face possible federal prosecution on charges of violating 8 USC 1326, for attempting to illegally reenter the United States, which carries a potential maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years and a fine of up to $250,000.

The interdiction was the result of ongoing efforts in support of Operation Unified Resolve, Operation Caribbean Guard and the Caribbean Border Interagency Group (CBIG).

“We are glad that we were able to arrive in time to safely recover all 28 migrants from this grossly overloaded vessel,” said Lt. Christopher Martin, Commanding Officer of the cutter Donald Horsley. “This vessel could have easily capsized and the people onboard would have had a very little chance of survival since they basically possessed no lifesaving equipment onboard. We appreciate the collaboration and coordination of are CBP partners, which allowed for a prompt response and successful outcome in this case.”

The interdiction took place Thursday, after a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air and Marine Operations DHC-8 marine patrol aircraft crew sighted a migrant boat just off Mona Island, Puerto Rico. The Coast Guard Cutter Donald Horsley (WPC-1117) diverted to the scene and interdicted the 30-foot migrant boat with 28 adult Dominican men aboard.

The crew of the Donald Horsley transferred the migrants to the Coast Guard Cutter Mohawk for their repatriation, while the five migrants awaiting prosecution were transferred to the Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Napier (WPC-1115). Ramey Sector Border Patrol agents in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico received custody of the five migrants awaiting federal prosecution.

Once aboard a Coast Guard cutter, all migrants receive food, water, shelter and basic medical attention.

Puerto Rico gets near-failing grade on infrastructure report card

(Reuters) - Puerto Rico’s roads, ports, energy grid and other infrastructure scored an overall D-minus in the first report card issued for the U.S. commonwealth on Tuesday by an engineering group, which put a price tag of as much as $23 billion over 10 years on needed updates and repairs.

The near-failing grade from the American Society of Civil Engineers comes as the island is still trying to recover from devastating hurricanes that hit in 2017 and as its bankrupt government attempts to restructure about $120 billion of debt and pension obligations in federal court.

Most of the island’s infrastructure is in “poor condition” and is exhibiting “significant deterioration,” according to the report.

Puerto Rico would need to spend an additional $13 billion to $23 billion over 10 years “to update infrastructure in order to support economic growth and competitiveness,” the report said. 

It added that “when considering deferred maintenance and hurricane-related recovery projects, the investment gap is even larger.”

So far, the U.S. government has sent the island $14.4 billion of the $43 billion in disaster funding that has been allocated.

The report card assigned the lowest grade of F to Puerto Rico’s energy infrastructure, which it said was already in poor condition before Hurricanes Irma and Maria demolished much of the electrical grid, leading to extended blackouts.

A $20.3 billion, 10-year plan to modernize and decentralize Puerto Rico’s power network was unveiled last month by Governor Wanda Vazquez Garced.

The rest of the island’s infrastructure was determined to be “at risk.” Dams, bridges and the wastewater system earned D-plus grades, while ports and drinking water were graded D and roads and solid-waste system were a notch lower at D-minus.

Recommendations included creating and adhering to a long-term comprehensive infrastructure plan and increasing resilience by building to modern industry standards.

 

November 6, 2019

Puerto Rico Senator, Abel Nazario, Indicted, Arrested for Bribery

SAN JUAN – Puerto Rico Sen. Abel Nazario-Quiñones and seven others were arrested and charged in a one-count indictment alleging theft or bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds, W. Stephen Muldrow, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, announced Wednesday.

Nazario-Quiñones was first elected Mayor of Yauco, a municipality in Southwest Puerto Rico, in 2000, and continued to be the mayor until December of 2016.

The other defendants are: Edwin Torres-Gutiérrez, Special Assistant to the Mayor; Claribel Rodríguez-Canchani, Director of Human Resources for the Municipality; Humberto Pagán-Sánchez, Kelvin Ortiz-Vegarra, Ramón Martes-Negrón, Juan Rosario-Núñez, and Eric Rondón-Rodríguez, who were all irregular employees of the municipality under Mayor Nazario-Quiñones.

In August 2016, during a routine audit of the Municipality’s records, the Comptroller’s Office discovered that there were irregular employees paid by the Municipality of Yauco who either never showed up for work, or showed up sporadically, according to the Justice Department’s press release on the case.

“During the years 2014 until 2016, the defendants conspired and agreed with each other to knowingly embezzle, steal, obtain by fraud, or otherwise without authority convert to the use of any person other than the rightful owner, or intentionally misapply, property valued at more than $5,000.00 that was owned by, or under the care and custody of the Municipality of Yauco. All in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 371 and 666(a)(1)(A).

“The purpose of the conspiracy was for defendant Abel Nazario-Quiñones, with the assistance of defendants Edwin Torres-Gutiérrez and Claribel Rodríguez-Canchani, to pay defendants Humberto Pagán-Sánchez, Kelvin Ortiz-Vegarra, Ramón Martes-Negrón, Juan Rosario-Núñez, and Eric Rondón-Rodríguez from Municipal funds to work on the senatorial campaign of defendant Nazario-Quiñones. A further purpose was for the irregular employees to provide assistance to the campaigns of other party politicians whose support Nazario-Quiñones would need to win the senatorial election and for a subsequent bid to become President of the Senate.”

Justice further said that, according to the indictment, Nazario-Quiñones signed numerous irregular employment contracts for Pagán-Sánchez, Ortiz-Vegarra, Martes-Negrón, Rosario-Núñez, and Rondón-Rodríguez. The listed justification in each contract was “Necesidad de Servicio” (“Need for Service”). The listed office in each contract was “Oficina del Alcalde” (“Office of the Mayor”).

“The listed immediate supervisor in each contract was defendant Torres-Gutiérrez, who instructed these irregular employees to report to the Municipality either once a week or once a month. After learning that the municipality was under investigation, Torres-Gutiérrez instructed the employees to report to the Municipality either two times a week or two to three times a month, and then sent them to different offices within the Municipality.

“Defendants Pagán-Sánchez, Ortiz-Vegarra, Martes-Negrón, Rosario-Núñez, and Rondón-Rodríguez reported to the Municipality to collect their paychecks and attend meetings in the Annex building with defendants Nazario-Quiñones and Torres-Gutiérrez to discuss defendant Nazario-Quiñones’ campaign. These five irregular employees sporadically completed time and attendance records, and when they did, Torres-Gutiérrez instructed them to simply sign them and leave the hours worked portion blank.

“Defendant Abel Nazario-Quiñones ordered defendants Torres-Gutiérrez and Rodríguez-Canchani to direct employees of the Department of Human Resources, either verbally or in writing, to process payroll for the five irregular employees based on false or no documentation to support the payment of wages. Rodríguez-Canchani ordered at least one employee of the Human Resources Department to assist her in creating false time and attendance records and then manipulated the falsely created time and attendance sheets in such a way as to make them appear old,” the release reads.

“This prosecution serves as a warning to other public officials involved in these types of schemes that they will be punished, and as a promise to taxpayers that such violations of the public trust will not be tolerated,” Muldrow said.

November 1st, 2019

Head of Puerto Rico Natural & Environmental Resources Dept. resigns amid FBI probe

SAN JUAN — Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced announced Thursday that Puerto Rico Natural & Environmental Resources Secretary Tania Vázquez Rivera handed in her resignation, effective Nov. 7, amid reports that federal authorities are investigating irregularities at the commonwealth agency.

“I have just received the letter [stating] the resignation of the Natural Resources Department secretary, and it has been accepted,” the governor said just after midday during an aside with journalists as she left an event at the Puerto Rico Convention Center District.

“She has considered all of this. We don’t want this to continue being a distraction from the priorities we have in the government,” the governor responded when asked whether she had requested Vázquez Rivera’s resignation. “Following my commitment, this government will ensure sound public administration. We are grateful to Secretary Tania Vázquez for her dedication and commitment, wishing her the best of success in her future endeavors.”

According to reports, Vázquez Rivera is under investigation by the FBI for alleged irregularities involving the awarding of contracts at the island’s Natural & Environmental Resources Department (DRNA by its Spanish initials) and at the Environmental Quality Board (JCA by its Spanish initials), which she chairs.

The outgoing official reportedly acknowledged Monday that the FBI visited DRNA headquarters in Río Piedras on Oct. 11, but said the agents told her she was not the target of the investigation underway.

“The special agents indicated that they would later submit a petition of information through a subpoena, which was received in my office on Monday, October 21,” she said.

Vázquez Rivera said the DRNA submitted the requested documents Oct. 23 and that she would continue to collaborate as a “facilitator, to the extent possible,” in all required aspects of the investigation.

Most of Florida’s Puerto Rican voters don’t like Trump — but fewer say they’ll vote

October 29, 2019

Puerto Rican voters in Florida are unhappy with President Donald Trump when it comes to his actions concerning the island, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into votes for Democrats, according to a poll released Monday by the progressive group Equis Labs.

Seventy-three percent of registered Puerto Rican voters who were polled disapproved of Trump’s handling of the U.S. territory, but a smaller percentage — 67 percent — said they were “highly motivated” to vote, suggesting that Democrats may need to do more work if they want to lock down Florida’s Puerto Rican vote for 2020.

“Specifically for Puerto Rican voters ... there is such a great opportunity here for Democrats to speak to voters on their issues,” said Melissa Morales, research director of Equis Labs.

The new poll offers some insight into one of the most coveted and fastest-growing blocs of voters in Florida, whose share of those eligible to register to vote has increased by 30 percent since 2016, according to the Pew Research Center. Puerto Ricans make up a third of Hispanics of voting age in Florida, on par with Cuban Americans in the state.

U.S. Supreme Court Holds Oral Arguments on FOMB Appointments

October 29, 2019

The U.S. Supreme Court listened to oral arguments Tuesday in a lawsuit headed by Aurelius Investment LLC—which had been consolidated with other cases—seeking to declare that the appointments to the federally established Financial Oversight & Management Board under the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management & Economic Stability Act (Promesa) were not made in accordance to the appointments clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Others that joined the lawsuit are bond insurer Assured Guaranty, the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors and the Irrigation & Electrical Workers Union Inc. (Utier by its Spanish acronym).

Earlier this year, the U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals declared that the board was not constitutionally formed because, although its members were appointed by President Obama, they were not confirmed by the Senate. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, however, validated the board’s actions under Promesa’s Title III bankruptcy case and gave Congress time to fix its constitutional problem.

In June, President Trump sent the nominations of the seven members to Congress, which had until July 15—the deadline established by the circuit court—to act. Even with Senate confirmation, the board members’ terms expired Aug. 30. Nevertheless, the board members were to continue in their roles until they were replaced with new appointments.

The court listened to arguments on whether the board members were named to the board in accordance to the appointments clause, which requires the president to nominate the board members, who are then confirmed by the Senate. The arguments focused on whether the appointments clause applies to Puerto Rico as an unincorporated territory.

Utier Attorney Rolando Emanuelli said that the justices had the opportunity to clear up any doubts they may have had after receiving thousands of pages of allegations that were filed in court.

The oral arguments lasted some 80 minutes.

Puerto Rico wins 1st Miss Earth title

OCTOBER 27,2019

MANILA—Nellys Pimentel, a psychology graduate, became the first-ever Puerto Rican winner of the Miss Earth pageant during a coronation ceremony in Manila Saturday. Pimentel, who called for her country's leaders to stop taking advantage of the environment and start initiatives to protect and give back to it during the pageant's Q&A portion, defeated 84 other candidates. Pimentel succeeded Nguyễn Phương Khánh of Vietnam.

The others in the international contest's Top 4 finished as follows: Miss Earth Fire: Belarus' Alisa Manenok Miss Earth Water: Czech Republic's Klara Vavruskova Miss Earth Air: USA's Emanii Davis

The Philippines' Janelle Tee, a TV host from Pasig City, bowed out of the competition early and finished in the Top 20.

The pageant was held at Okada Manila.

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