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Chef Jose Andres and volunteers with World Central Kitchen prepare paella in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Oct. 19, 2017. Andres was on one of the first commercial flights into San Juan after Hurricane Maria; his nonprofit made close to two million meals. On Oct

'We Fed an Island' sinks its teeth into disaster relief in Puerto Rico

'On Sept. 29, 2017, Donald Trump was explaining why federal relief to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria was moving so slowly: “This is an island surrounded by water — big water, ocean water.”


By that time, chef José Andrés had already been on the ground in San Juan for five days, after wangling a flight into its heavily damaged airport. In four days, as government and nonprofit officials held meetings and issued statements without leaving their hotels, he and a team working out of a small restaurant kitchen had prepared 21,000 meals and found ways to deliver them to the city’s devastated and hungry population.


Soon Andrés’ organization would be cooking out of a dozen kitchens (including San Juan’s largest arena) and delivering 100,000 meals a day all over Puerto Rico, using local products and workers to help stimulate a stalled economy. In the first month after the storm they produced 2 million meals — on an island where electrical power and running water were virtually unavailable.


Andrés’ new memoir, We Fed an Island: The True Story of Rebuilding Puerto Rico, One Meal at a Time, is an inspirational book, but it’s also an angry one, a call to arms for reform of how our government and other organizations respond to disasters.


Andrés has plenty of experience at that, having been involved in relief operations after such catastrophes as Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and the massive 2010 earthquake in Haiti. That led to his founding a food relief organization, World Central Kitchen. This year WCK served 300,000 meals in North Carolina after Hurricane Florence and, within five days of Hurricane Michael’s landfall, 45,000 meals in the Panhandle.


Disaster relief is not Andrés’ career. He is a James Beard award-winning chef who operates more than two dozen acclaimed restaurants in Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Miami and elsewhere. Born in Spain, the 49-year-old chef received a National Humanities Medal at the White House in 2016.' -

Congreso Boricua de New Jersey y Lydia Valencia continúan ayudando y buscando recursos para Puerto Rico

¡Siguen marcando pauta!


El Congreso Boricua de New Jersey y su Presidenta y Directora Ejecutiva, Lydia Valencia, siguen marcando pauta.


Cumpliendo con el compromiso adquirido de apoyo a los hermanos puertorriqueños en la “Isla del Encanto”, el Congreso Boricua de NJ (PRC) no ha dejado de trabajar, palpando y canalizando las muchas necesidades todavía existentes, (sin miras a cuando se resuelvan), que dejó el huracán María en Puerto Rico.


Valencia, una de las mujeres puertorriqueña del estado de New Jersey, quien no le teme al momento de superar obstáculos ni barreras, y quien ha hecho una enorme labor llevando ayuda a Puerto Rico, junto a William, presidente de la Junta de Directores de PRC, visitaron el pueblo de Comerío en días pasados.


ntregando baterías de 10k, paneles solares y transformadores a la Escuela Inés María Mendoza, los cuales fueron recibidos por el Administrador Municipal Irving Rivera en representación del honorable alcalde, Josean Santiago. Entre los presentes también se encontraba el CPA Juan Agosto, Presidente de la Fundación que lleva su nombre y quien junto al Congreso Boricua y el Municipio de Comerío unirá esfuerzos para los honorarios de la instalación del equipo donado por el Congreso Boricua.


Cabe mencionar que con este equipo la electricidad no se detendrá en caso de algún otro desastre natural o problema eléctrico y a la misma vez podrá servirá de refugio a los residentes.

- Ahora News

Juan R. Flores, 89, a Korean War veteran will be traveling back to to South Korea on September 17th with a group known as "The Borinqueneers”. The group is comprised of veterans from the 65th Infantry Regiment known as "The Borinqueneers" who were the onl

Doubt Puerto Ricans' American citizenship? Just look at war records

'When Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico, surveys showed that a majority of Americans thought Puerto Ricans were not citizens of the United States and questioned whether the residents should receive aid.


Ironically, last year was also the 100th anniversary of the Jones-Shafroth Act, which granted Puerto Ricans U.S. citizenship. Two months after the act passed, Congress passed the Selective Service Act, calling up millions of American men to serve in World War I, including the new citizens in Puerto Rico.


War fever had been building in the United States since the sinking of the Lusitania by the Germans took 128 American lives in 1915.


Holding to its claim of neutrality, America believed it had the right to sell military goods to any nation without being attacked by German U-boats. In reality it meant supplying Germany’s enemies.


Germany responded by having its U-boats prowl the Atlantic Ocean. In March 1915, the German supply ship Odenwald sailed into San Juan Bay. Lt. Col. Teofilo Marxuach knew that the Odenwald was in the Caribbean to resupply the U-boats. When the ship attempted to leave port, Marxuach, the highest-ranking Puerto Rican in the military, was watching from El Morro Castle in San Juan Bay. He ordered the first shots of American involvement in World War I. The shots alarmed the ship, and it returned to port where its supplies were confiscated.' -


UPDATE 3-Judge approves Puerto Rico consensual debt restructuring deal

'SAN JUAN, Nov 6 (Reuters) - A U.S. judge on Tuesday approved Puerto Rico’s first consensual debt restructuring deal, helping wind down the Government Development Bank (GDB), the island’s former fiscal agent.


Government lawyers called the confirmation hearing a “historic moment” for the U.S. commonwealth’s financial recovery.


“I’m glad we took this step forward toward a new foundation for Puerto Rico,” said Judge Laura Taylor Swain, who presides over the island’s bankruptcy cases under a federal law known as PROMESA.


The GDB deal addresses approximately $4 billion out of Puerto Rico’s $72 billion in existing debt. In total, the bankrupt island has $120 billion in both debt and pension obligations.


“The court’s approval represents a major milestone in the restructuring of Puerto Rico’s debt obligations,” said Natalie Jaresko, executive director of the federally appointed Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico.


The plan, overwhelmingly approved by creditors in September, will transfer to a GDB Debt Recovery Authority the bank’s municipal loan portfolios, real estate assets and unencumbered cash.' -

Police deployed at a student demonstration in Puerto Rico (Centro de Comunicación Estudiantil | Facebook)

Puerto Rico is criminalizing student protest

'ON OCTOBER 15, Adriana Quiles and Josué Román, two student strike leaders from the University of Puerto Rico student strike of 2017, had a hearing in which they faced serious criminal charges for their participation in a protest against the destruction of public education in Puerto Rico.


They had hoped this would be the end of their year-and-a-half-long nightmare, during which they were targeted for arrest, assaulted by police and subjected to arduous court proceedings.


Unfortunately, their nightmare isn’t over yet. After taking off time from school and work, arriving on time and waiting in an empty courtroom for more than an hour to be heard, the students and their families were told — as they have been dozens of times before — that their hearing was postponed, in this case due to the prosecutor’s illness.


This is yet another in a long series of delays by the Puerto Rican judicial system that has forced the students into a long and costly court battle.


The fact that Adriana and Josué are being denied a speedy trial for their role in student protest should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the ways that student strikers have been treated by the Puerto Rican judicial system.


The two students were targeted for arrest in April 2017 for their participation in a protest that targeted the financial and governmental institutions responsible for the gutting of the public university system. Both protesters were arrested by plainclothes policemen in a militaristic fashion.' -

Puerto Rico governor creates "9/20 Committee" to improve protocols on counting disaster deaths

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló issued an executive order Friday creating a committee to establish protocols about reporting deaths related to natural disasters. The group is called the 9/20 Committee, an apparent reference to Sept. 20, the day Hurricane Maria hit the island last year.


The committee's creation comes two months after an independent analysis determined Maria was responsible for an estimated 2,975 deaths in Puerto Rico from September 2017 through February 2018. That analysis was conducted by researchers at George Washington University's Milken Institute School of Public Health. 


The new committee "will establish protocols" to implement recommendations made in a report on the death toll findings. 

It is co-chaired by Carlos Mercader, the executive director of the Puerto Rico government's Federal Affairs Administration, and Dr. Irwin Redlener, director of the National Disaster and Preparedness Response Center at Columbia University. 


"It is our intention that this Committee serve as a model for the whole of the United States so that we can more adequately assess mortality but more importantly, avoid the loss of life during and after both natural and man-made disasters," Mercader said in a release.

Rosselló accepted the findings of the GWU study and later raised the official death toll from the storm to 2,975 from 64, the initial figure.

The report on the findings made various recommendations on issues including mortality surveillance and communication during natural disasters. They included establishing clear leadership of the Puerto Rico Department of Health when it comes to mortality surveillance, and improving efficiency regarding the flow of information to decision makers.


"This Committee will play a key role in the future of our island, as it will establish the appropriate protocols and guidelines so that we are better prepared in the face of a disaster such as Hurricane Maria," Rosselló said.

Vickie Michaud, center, the founder of Hope Builders, directs workers at a job site in Vieques. The non-profit hopes to rebuild 100 homes that were destroyed by Hurricane Maria.Brock Stoneham / NBC News

For the Puerto Rican island of Vieques, rebuilding seems like a never-ending task

“Being an island off an island makes things extremely difficult," said Hope Builders' Vicki Michaud. "There's so many people in dire need of a home."

VIEQUES, Puerto Rico — If a devastating hurricane's road to recovery is difficult in a small Caribbean island, it's even tougher if one lives in an island off the island, as residents of Vieques have found out.

Many areas in Puerto Rico have been able to recover from Hurricane Maria more than a year after the disaster took place, but Vieques is not one of them.


Vieques is a smaller island located about seven miles off the Southeast coast of the mainland of Puerto Rico, known to tourists as a vacation spot sprinkled with beautiful beaches and with a casual, small-town vibe. To travel between the mainland of Puerto Rico and Vieques, people have to take a ferry or a flight.

But being “an island off an island,” as some describe it, has disproportionately slowed down recovery efforts for the roughly 9,000 Puerto Ricans living in Vieques.


While it took the power authority 11 months to restore full power in Puerto Rico, families living in Vieques continue to wait. The power authority has no current plans to restore the underwater cable that transmitted electricity from the Puerto Rico mainland to Vieques before Maria hit, instead aiming to put in place a new system using microgrids and renewable energy that could prove more resilient ahead of future storms.

Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora arrives at his puerto rican hometown with the 2018 World Series trophy, in Caguas, Puerto Rico, Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018. (Associated Press)

Alex Cora arrives in Puerto Rico as fans celebrate win

CAGUAS, Puerto Rico — Hundreds of arms stretched into the sky in the hometown of Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora on Saturday as fans took pictures and video of the first man from Puerto Rico to lead a team to a World Series championship.


Cora held up the trophy that he had been cradling in his arms as he arrived in the city of Caguas with pitchers David Price and Eduardo Rodriguez and catcher Christian Vazquez, among others including Red Sox chairman Tom Werner.


The Red Sox beat the Los Angeles Dodgers on Oct. 28 to win their fourth championship in 15 years.

“They didn’t put any boundaries on their manager,” Cora told reporters. “They trusted a kid from Caguas, Puerto Rico.”


The Boston Red Sox say they haven’t decided whether they will visit the White House if invited by President Donald Trump. Cora said if that happens, it offers what he called a “huge platform.”


“I know what it represents, and I think I’ve done a good job so far representing my country and Latinos, and if as an organization we decided to go, I’ll use this platform the right way,” he said. “I’m not going to embarrass the organization, or my country or myself.”


When asked by The Associated Press to specify what he meant by “the right way,” Cora grinned and only said, “You’ll have to wait and see.”

Richard Gonzalez, who fled Puerto Rico in January, relied on hotel vouchers from FEMA while trying to find long-term housing in South Florida. Miami Herald / Getty Images

Puerto Ricans Who Fled Hurricane Maria Are Preparing To Vote In Florida For The First Time

“We will vote, and the things we achieve here we achieve for them,” one woman who fled Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria told BuzzFeed News.


'ORLANDO — One early morning in October last year, Nydia Irizarry packed what she could from her flooded, storm-ravaged house into a suitcase, gathered her two children, and fled her hometown of Manatí, Puerto Rico.


That was a month after Hurricane Maria wiped out Puerto Rico’s power, water, and medical services. Irizarry’s 23-year-old daughter, who has cancer, had taken a turn for the worse, struggling without electricity and water. Her daughter’s skin started to turn yellow, and at times she couldn’t breathe. The family was airlifted to Florida by the American Cancer Society after a doctor told Irizarry her daughter would die if she stayed in Puerto Rico, where medical facilities could not treat her.'


A year later, Irizarry has an apartment and a full-time job working with a church in Orlando that’s connecting other hurricane evacuees with apartments, jobs, and help getting started in the mainland US. She’s staying in Florida because she needed to be somewhere more stable for her daughter’s treatment, for her son to stay in school, and for the family to be able to move on with their lives.


“It’s been so many difficult changes, but it’s been good because it’s forced us to grow, we’ve grown as a family, and we’ve learned a lot,” said Irizarry.


Hundreds of pairs of shoes in San Juan, P.R., paid tribute to the victims of Hurricane Maria. The storm’s official death toll of 64 has not yet been changed.CreditAlvin Baez/Reuters

Puerto Rican Government Acknowledges Hurricane Death Toll of 1,427

By Frances Robles


SAN JUAN, P.R. — The government of Puerto Rico has quietly acknowledged in a report posted online that in all likelihood more than 1,400 people died in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria — a figure that is more than 20 times the official death toll.


Hurricane Maria cut through the island on Sept. 20, knocking out power and initially killing about a dozen people. The government’s official count eventually swelled to 64, as more people died from suicide, lack of access to health care and other factors. The number has not changed despite several academic assessments that official death certificates did not come close to tallying the storm’s fatal toll.


But in a draft of a report to Congress requesting $139 billion in recovery funds, scheduled for official release on Thursday, the Puerto Rican government admits that 1,427 more people died in the last four months of 2017 compared with the same time frame in the previous year. The figures came from death registry statistics that were released in June, but which were never publicly acknowledged by officials on the island.


“Although the official death count from the Puerto Rico Department of Public Safety was initially 64, the toll appears to be much higher,” said the report, titled “Transformation and Innovation in the Wake of Devastation.” -

Puerto Rico governor travels to South America



'SAN JUAN – Gov. Ricardo Rosselló left Sunday evening for Bogotá, Colombia, to participate in the inauguration of President Iván Duque.

Rosselló’s office said he will also participate in a multisector trade mission with several Puerto Rican companies.


The topics to be discussed will focus on trade, housing, agriculture, and exports. In addition, Rivera Marín will meet with the president of the National Business Association of Colombia, (ANDI by its Spanish acronym), Bruce Mac Master, and with the chairman and majority shareholder of Avianca, Germán Efromovich. The airline operates a daily flight between Bogotá and San Juan. Also, Rivera Marín indicated that he may meet with Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela, according to a separate release issued by Secretary of State Luis Rivera Marín.


“We are going to express to the president-elect the solidarity of the government of Ricardo Rosselló with the new government he is going to establish in Colombia, with the certainty that it will be one that will fully respond to the best interests of his people and will identify with international politics regarding human rights and the freedoms of its inhabitants. In Puerto Rico, we have a community of about 7,000

Colombians who contribute to our economy, and as part of the Governor’s public policy, we want to strengthen these relationships, including export possibilities through the Department of Economic Development (DDEC) and the Company of Trade and Export,” Rivera Marín said.' -

It's been a long "last mile" to complete restoration.

Puerto Rico’s Electricity Sales Have Rebounded—Almost

About 100 customers still need their service restored.


By Emma Foehringer Merchant


'After plummeting from 13.8 million megawatt-hours in 2017 to 0.3 million megawatt-hours the month after Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico’s electricity sales are now approaching typical levels.

Energy Information Administration (EIA) data shows that industrial and commercial electricity sales are back to pre-Maria norms, while residential rates are still somewhat lagging. 


On Friday, the island’s electric authority reported that 104 customers remain without service. The outages caused by Hurricanes Maria and Irma have now continued for over 10 months, constituting the longest blackout in U.S. history.   


According to the EIA, in October 2017 residential electricity sales dropped to 3 percent of the previous October’s total. Industrial sales were only slightly higher at 6 percent, and commercial sales continued at about a third of last year’s levels. EIA attributes that balance to the prioritization of critical load centers like hospitals and community centers.


The research organization began reporting data on Puerto Rico’s power plants in July.' -

Puerto Rico deals with rain and flooding as remnants of Beryl move over the island

By Eric Levenson and Leyla Santiago


'The remnants of the storm Beryl brought heavy rain and wind to Puerto Rico, creating flash-flood conditions on the island and exacerbating power outage issues that have remained since last year's devastating hurricane season.


Beryl was downgraded from a tropical storm to a remnant low pressure system on Sunday as it passed over the Lesser Antilles, the National Hurricane Center said.
Though less powerful than before, the storm brought 2 to 4 inches of heavy rain and gusty winds to southeast Puerto Rico on Monday. Flash-flood warnings have expired, but a watch continued through midnight as intermittent showers and storms continued.
The risk from rain and wind was particularly acute for the about 60,000 people with blue tarps on their homes, the aftereffects of Hurricane Maria last September.
Olga Herrera Carrasquillo and Ramon Llanos Arboleda, who live together in Humacao in the southeastern region of Puerto Rico, said FEMA installed a blue tarp over their roof to protect what little they had left.' -
Rep. Jenniffer Gonzalez is surrounded by lawmakers while introducing a new bipartisan bill to officially pave the way to incorporate Puerto Rico as a state.Courtesy: Rep. Jennifer Gonzale Press Office

New bipartisan bill calls for Puerto Rico statehood

by Nicole Acevedo


“To sum everything up, this is about equality,” said Puerto Rico's pro-statehood, nonvoting member of Congress, Jenniffer González.

Lawmakers on Wednesday introduced new bipartisan legislation to make Puerto Rico the nation's 51st state by 2021.

The bill, known as the Puerto Rico Admission Act of 2018 was presented by Puerto Rico’s resident commissioner, Jenniffer González-Colón, a Republican who authored the bill and is a nonvoting member of Congress.


“This is the first step to open a serious discussion to determine the ultimate political status of Puerto Rico,” González said. “To sum everything up, this is about equality."

The bipartisan effort is co-sponsored by 36 members of Congress, 22 Republicans and 14 Democrats.

“I’m pleased to be one of the sponsors,” said Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources. “I look forward to the day 51 is a reality.” -

Miliana Montanez, 29, in Caguas, Puerto Rico, in late March, with a memorial book for her mother. (Erika P. Rodríguez for The Washington Post)

Harvard study estimates thousands died in Puerto Rico because of Hurricane Maria

Arelis R. Hernández and Laurie McGinley


'CAGUAS, PUERTO RICO — Miliana Montanez cradled her mother’s head as she lay dying on the floor of her bedroom here, gasping for air and pleading for help.


There was nothing her family could do. It took 20 minutes to find cellular reception to make a 911 call. Inoperative traffic signals slowed down the ambulance struggling to reach their neighborhood through crippling congestion.


Ivette Leon’s eyes bulged in terror as she described to her daughter the tiny points of light that appeared before her. She took one last desperate gulp of air just as paramedics arrived. Far too late.


More than eight months after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, the island’s slow recovery has been marked by a persistent lack of water, a faltering power grid and a lack of essential services — all imperiling the lives of many residents, especially the infirm and those in remote areas hardest hit in September.


A new Harvard study published Tuesday in the New England Journal of Medicine estimates that at least 4,645 deaths can be linked to the hurricane and its immediate aftermath, making the storm far deadlier than previously thought. Official estimates have placed the number of dead at 64, a count that has drawn sharp criticism from experts and local residents and spurred the government to order an independent review that has yet to be completed.' -

El Gobernador Murphy Firma Una Orden Ejecutiva Creando Una Comisión Para Ayudar a Puerto Rico

By Roberto Bustamante


Jersey City– El Gobernador Phil Murphy firmó hoy una orden ejecutiva estableciendo una comisión para ayudar a Puerto Rico. La comisión, compuesta por 18 miembros, colaborará con agencias federales y estatales para acelerar el proceso que beneficiará a puertorriqueños desplazados en el estado de New Jersey, también examinará otras maneras en que el estado podría ayudar a la isla.


“Es inaceptable que cinco meses después de que el huracán María tocó tierra en Puerto Rico, tantos de nuestros compatriotas americanos todavía están sintiendo el impacto de la tormenta,” dijo el Gobernador Murphy. “Esta agencia compuesta de agencias federales y estatales proveerán ayuda a aproximadamente 30,000 puertorriqueños refugiados en New Jersey, dirigiendo así a nuestras agencias a ayudar rápidamente a aquellos que han sido desplazados. Debemos buscar otras maneras de ayudar a la isla y devolver la normalidad a los puertorriqueños. La respuesta federal no ha sido suficiente y debemos aumentar nuestros esfuerzos como estado para ayudar a nuestros hermanos en la isla.”


“Quiero agradecer el Gobernador Phil Murphy de New Jersey por crear la Comisión de Puerto Rico,” dijo el Gobernador Ricardo Roselló de Puerto Rico. “El Gobernador Murphy y el estado de New Jersey han sido grandes aliados en la recuperación de Puerto Rico después del huracán María. Trabajaremos juntos para asegurar que la comisión sea exitosa en su objetivo.” -

Puerto Rico vows to protect public employees in fiscal plan



'SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Puerto Rico government officials on Tuesday pushed back against a federal control board’s suggestion that they cut benefits for the U.S. territory’s employees to cope with an 11-year financial crisis.

Secretary of Public Affairs Ramon Rosario said the government won’t implement any measures that financially affect government workers.


The control board that oversees Puerto Rico’s finances is demanding changes in the territory’s fiscal plan, and more details about it. The board suggested late Monday that the government could cut costs by making severance pay and Christmas bonuses optional or by reducing requirements for vacation and sick leave to U.S. mainland levels. The board said no state requires that employers provide vacation pay, and that only nine of 50 U.S. states require any paid sick leave.


“It is imperative that Puerto Rico seize this moment to fundamentally reform an economy that has been in a long-term recession, even before Hurricanes Irma and Maria,” wrote board chairman Jose Carrion.' -

In Puerto Rico, dozens of entrepreneurs are making a cryptocurrency utopia

By Nellie Bowles


'SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — They call what they are building Puertopia. But then someone told them, apparently in all seriousness, that it translates to “eternal boy playground” in Latin. So they are changing the name: They will call it Sol.


Dozens of entrepreneurs, made newly wealthy by blockchain and cryptocurrencies, are heading en masse to Puerto Rico this winter. They are selling their homes and cars in California and establishing residency on the Caribbean island in hopes of avoiding what they see as onerous state and federal taxes on their growing fortunes, some of which now reach into the billions of dollars.


And these men — because they are almost exclusively men — have a plan for what to do with the wealth: They want to build a crypto utopia, a new city where the money is virtual and the contracts are all public, to show the rest of the world what a crypto future could look like. Blockchain, a digital ledger that forms the basis of virtual currencies, has the potential to reinvent society — and the Puertopians want to prove it.

For more than a year, the entrepreneurs had been searching for the best location. After Hurricane Maria decimated Puerto Rico’s infrastructure in September and the price of cryptocurrencies began to soar, they saw an opportunity and felt a sense of urgency.' -

Special Report: In Puerto Rico, a housing crisis U.S. storm aid won't solve

By: Nick Brown


CANOVANAS, Puerto Rico (Reuters) - Among the countless Puerto Rico neighborhoods battered by Hurricane Maria is one named after another storm: Villa Hugo. The illegal shantytown emerged on a public wetland after 1989’s Hurricane Hugo left thousands homeless.


About 6,000 squatters landed here, near the El Yunque National Forest, and built makeshift homes on 40 acres that span a low-lying valley and its adjacent mountainside. Wood and concrete dwellings, their facades scrawled with invented addresses, sit on cinder blocks. After Maria, many are missing roofs; some have collapsed altogether.


Amid the rubble, 59-year-old Joe Quirindongo sat in the sun one recent day on a wooden platform - the only remaining piece of his home. Soft-spoken with weathered skin and a buzzcut, Quirindongo pondered his limited options.


“I know this isn’t a good place for a house,” said Quirindongo, who survives on U.S. government assistance. “Sometimes I would like to go to another place, but I can’t afford anything.”

The Central Palo Seco power station of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) is seen in San Juan, Puerto Rico January 23, 2018. REUTERS/Alvin Baez

Struggling Puerto Rico utility close to finding new chief

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Puerto Rico’s bankrupt power utility, PREPA, is close to replacing former Executive Director Ricardo Ramos, a member of the utility’s board said on Thursday during a panel discussion on the U.S. territory’s storm-ravaged energy sector.

PREPA’s governing board is vetting several potential hires referred by a consultant tapped to help the utility find its new leader, board member Nisha Desai said, calling the decision critical to PREPA’s recovery from September’s Hurricane Maria.


“When it comes to transformation, to driving cultural change, people follow people,” Desai said. “They look for inspiration from leaders.”

Puerto Rico - Fourth Quarter 2017 Review


By Shaun Burgess


'The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico entered the fourth quarter having suffered one of the most devastating natural disasters in the island's history. Hurricane Maria left billions of dollars in damage in its wake, including both infrastructure damage and economic losses. The human costs have been equally terrible, with millions of US citizens suffering.

Three months later and the lights are still out - only 70% of power has been restored. Many businesses remain closed due to the lack of electricity and the high costs of using diesel generators. An estimated 20-30% of the island's 65,000 businesses may close permanently. Residents have fled to the mainland in the wake of the hurricanes. According to a study by the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College in New York, the island's population is expected to decrease by 14% to 2.9 million people by 2019, as residents flee the devastation. Whether they return remains questionable. The deeper the roots they establish on the mainland, the less likely they are to return home. Hurricane Maria has magnified an already exceedingly complex situation. Rebuilding will take months, a full recovery, years.' -

Jesús Santiago, a funeral home manager in Ponce, P.R. Deaths on the island were likely to continue rising in the wake of Hurricane Maria, he said. Credit Erika P. Rodriguez for The New York Times

Puerto Rico Deaths Spike, but Few Are Attributed to Hurricane



"PONCE, P.R. — Almost two months after Hurricane Maria tore through Puerto Rico, there were more signs of how unsettled the situation remains here and how grievous the toll of the storm was.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency said that it was finalizing extraordinary plans to fly about 3,000 residents of Puerto Rico still living in shelters to New York and Florida.

“Transportation assistance is something that I don’t think we have done previously,” Will Booher, a FEMA spokesman, said. “But this is unique to what’s going on in Puerto Rico.” The agency said the relief effort was being undertaken at the request of Gov. Ricardo Rosselló.

FEMA regularly finds housing for hurricane victims, often at hotels or motels nearby. But because there is so little available lodging on the island, and no easy way to get people from shelters to safe housing, the agency is arranging charter flights for residents, beginning with those still in shelters.

On Wednesday, Puerto Rico officials, facing increasing questions about the accuracy of the official death toll from the storm, acknowledged for the first time that 472 more people died this September compared with the same month last year. The storm made landfall on Sept. 20. The government’s official death toll is 55."


Central Jerseyans come to aid of Puerto Rico

, Courier News and Home Tribune


"Financial donations are being accepted by United for Puerto Rico, the Salvation Army, the Red Cross and the Puerto Rican Congress of New Jersey and its New Jersey Puerto Rico Hurricane Relief to purchase products to quickly and efficiently meet the most urgent needs of disaster victims.

When possible, such purchases are made near the disaster site to stimulate the local economy and ensure quicker delivery.  All financial donations will be dedicated entirely to Puerto Rico Hurricane Maria Relief efforts.

For more information, visit

The donated items needed include: baby food, batteries, box fans, canned goods, cots, cleaning supplies, diapers, feminine hygiene products, flashlights, flood pumps, hand sanitizer, first aid items, leather work gloves, new underwear and socks, new bed pillows and blankets, toiletries, utility knives and high-capacity generators to restore power for hospitals, water service and flood pumps." -

Bill Duhart | For

In city where 1/3 have Puerto Rican heritage, fundraising efforts are 'very personal'

"CAMDEN -- A statewide-effort to raise money for hurricane relief for Puerto Rico was announced Thursday in front of Camden City Hall.

More than a third of the city's 74,400 residents claim Puerto Rican heritage"


"Rodriguez said state Sen. Nilsa Cruz-Perez, D, Camden, launched the effort by reaching out to the Puerto Rican Congress of New Jersey. Together, they created the Boricuas from New Jersey para Puerto Rico Fund with the South Jersey Credit Union. Organizers plan a statewide campaign with events ending on October 8. The funds will then be distributed to the United for Puerto Rico Foundation and the Salvation Army." -

US sees Puerto Rico as reservation with nothing to reserve

By Andres Cordova, opinion contributor


"One year after the Supreme Court’s decision in Commonwealth of Puerto Rico v. Sanchez Valle, the enactment of The Puerto Rico Oversight Management and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA), the creation of a Oversight and Management Board and the initiation of bankruptcy-like proceedings under its Title III provisions in the Federal District Court in San Juan put to bed the argument that claimed any kind of uniqueness to the political relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States.

By now, it is clear that Puerto Rico is a territory under the plenary powers of Congress as provided by Article IV, Section III of the Constitution, without limitation or reservation." -

Representative Vito Marcantonio (second from left) standing with a crowd of late registrants outside the register booth at 57 E. 111th Street in Manhattan. (Tom Cunningham/New York Daily News )

The Barrio Congressman: Vito Marcantonio and the Puerto Rican migration

Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)

Bring Medicare Tourism to Puerto Rico

The practice would be good for both the island's economy and the U.S. federal budget.


By Andrew G. Biggs


"The federal budget faces a problem: the rising cost of Medicare benefits. At $10,000 per beneficiary per year, Medicare is one of the largest costs facing the U.S. taxpayer. And it's growing as baby boomers retire and health costs increase. At the same time, the U.S. island of Puerto Rico faces a problem. Its government is effectively bankrupt, and the economy is contracting. Tourism receipts are below potential levels. Perhaps worst, over one-third of the island's doctors have emigrated to the mainland in the past decade, increasingly leaving Puerto Ricans without care.

But there is a policy that could help both the federal budget and the Puerto Rican economy. Not medical tourism, but Medicare tourism."

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Pro-statehood supporters await the arrival of Puerto Rico’s new governor at the seaside Capitol in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Monday, Jan. 2, 2017. Ricardo Rossello was sworn in Monday as the U.S. territory prepares for what many believe will be new austerity

Puerto Rico files bill in quest to obtain statehood by 2025


"SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Puerto Rico’s new representative to the U.S. Congress filed a bill Wednesday that would turn the island into the 51st U.S. state by 2025.


The bill is the first step in a renewed quest for statehood that is to include a referendum letting Puerto Rico voters choose between independence and statehood, Resident Commissioner Jenniffer Gonzalez told The Associated Press.


She filed the bill less than a day after she was sworn in as Puerto Rico’s first female congressional representative, saying she aims to secure equal treatment for the more than 3 million U.S. citizens living in the U.S. territory.


“We are treated as second-class American citizens,” said Gonzalez, a Republican who once served as speaker of the island’s House of Representatives.


The bill also aims to relieve a decade-long economic crisis that has sparked an exodus of more than 200,000 Puerto Ricans to the U.S. mainland in recent years. If Congress ultimately accepted Puerto Rico as a state, the island would receive roughly $10 billion in additional federal funds a year, Gonzalez said." - The Washington Post

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Puerto Ricans fleeing island's troubles find an unlikely haven: Camden
by , Staff Writer

Ramon Colón felt trapped in Puerto Rico.

He was making $7.55 an hour working in hospital maintenance. His wife had lost her job when her employer went out of business. Colón was forced to switch his teenage children to a public school because he could no longer afford private school tuition on the island.

"I tried to stay in Puerto Rico and contribute with my grain of sand to help the island, but like many others I was forced to abandon ship," said Colón.


So he moved in February - to Camden.

The city may be beset with problems, but that's not how Colón, 39, sees it: "Over there I was surviving, here I am living."

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