The San Juan Daily Star
$60 million announced by Biden will go to Guayanilla River dredging project
Governor: President referred to previous administration regarding PR not being ‘treated well’
By John McPhaul
Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón said Tuesday that the $60.6 million announced by President Joseph Biden for Puerto Rico during his trip to Puerto Rico on Monday will go toward the dredging of the Guayanilla River.
“This allocation for the channeling of the Guayanilla River is vital for the safety of the surrounding communities,” the resident commissioner said in a written statement. “I am pleased that the funds we secured for the island in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law continue to support our [guiding objective] of a Puerto Rico with a much more resilient infrastructure.”
González Colón spoke with officials from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who confirmed that among the funds announced by Biden during his visit to the island, the $60.6 million is for the next phase of the Guayanilla River dredging project.
“In 2020, the Water Resources Development Act was passed with language of my authorship that would advance to the design stage the Guayanilla River [project], which I have been working on with local entities and the Corps of Engineers since my day one in Congress,” the resident commissioner said.
Separately, Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia said after Biden’s departure Monday that his statements that Puerto Ricans “have not been treated well,” are in reference to “the past administration” of former President Donald Trump.
“He’s referring to the past administration, not his administration. I know it refers to that,” the governor said at a press conference after the president’s departure from Mercedita International Airport in Ponce. “We talked and on his visit we talked constantly because we were together all the time. And I know, in meetings he mentioned it consistently.”
“Here the culture has changed at the level of the highest rank of the federal government toward Puerto Rico,” Pierluisi added. “It is a culture of recognizing us as American citizens, of treating us equally whenever they can, of treating us fairly. And that is what we are seeing and this visit proves it.”
The governor was also asked about a report issued by the inspector general regarding the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) response during Hurricane Maria, and allegations of deficient oversight that allegedly put over $47 million at risk.
“I have to dig deeper into that,” Pierluisi said. “So far, there have been no allegations of corruption. The only [cases] that have been related to Maria are, yes, FEMA, but it is from a particular contract and some crimes and admissions of guilt from FEMA officials themselves. That is what has been seen so far. As for the government of Puerto Rico, as far as I know, there have been no major accusations.”
As for the energy customers who still remain without electricity service, the governor said re-energization rates are “already very high.”
“It has already been confirmed that 90% of subscribers in the Ponce Region, which goes beyond [the city center], throughout the region already have service,” he said.
Regarding subscribers in parts of the island that still do not have service, the governor said “remote areas, by definition, are more difficult to access but the commitment is to restore 100%.”
“There has been a breakthrough and it is a matter of completion,” Pierluisi said.