Delgado Altieri: ‘I think the country is jaded and tired of negative political campaigns’

By Pedro Correa Henry

Special To The Star

Twitter: @PCorreaHenry

This is the first of a series of interviews with candidates running in the 2020 general elections

Popular Democratic Party (PDP) gubernatorial candidate Charlie Delgado Altieri told the Star on Monday that his opponents should focus on building their convictions as voters deserve and expect to see their proposals so they have time to understand and question their ideas.

After winning his party’s candidacy in the primary elections on Sunday, Delgado Altieri said he felt grateful to receive support from more than 100,000 voters and is ready to work hard to get his message across in order to “take the reins of our homeland.” As for his opponents, he said his focus is more on submitting proposals that provide solutions to the issues that Puerto Ricans are going through at the moment and that there is no time for negative campaigns.

“I’m working with my campaigns along with the proposals that I am submitting to the country. That is my focus,” Delgado Altieri said. “I am not interested in getting into personalities or engaging in negative campaigning; I don’t like that. I think the country is jaded and tired of negative political campaigns and wants solutions to their problems.”

When the Star asked Delgado Altieri how he was going to address Puerto Rico’s public debt as the island economy has been hit hard after going through so many challenges such as hurricanes, earthquakes, and a global pandemic, the Isabela mayor said he recognizes that the Financial Oversight and Management Board (FOMB), which was imposed in 2016 by the U.S. Congress to address the commonwealth’s fiscal debt, “started wrong” as it has limited essential services on the island and insists on negotiating a debt with an economic system that is “nosediving in a freefall.” He suggested working along with the oversight board and Congress.

“It will be impossible for Puerto Rico to negotiate a payment agreement with bondholders with an economy that keeps crumbling; in fact, many economists, both on local and international grounds, have clearly said that Puerto Rico would not comply with the annual payments from the agreements that were in the works,” Delgado Altieri said. “My assignment is to work with the FOMB to reverse this program and present an economic development project for Puerto Rico. We have to steer our economy, make it grow and then we’ll be able to develop payment agreements to attend to our public debt. But as of this moment, they are going in the wrong direction.”

The Star also asked if the PDP gubernatorial candidate might consider former gubernatorial hopeful Eduardo Bhatia to be his representative to the FOMB, he said that even though he has been in conversations with the senator about the matter, he still has not focused on any particular candidate. He said however that the doors were open for dialogue.

In response to a Star question about how he would manage the coronavirus pandemic if he became governor, as it is expected that COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, will be active until next year, Delgado Altieri said testing would be a priority as it provides a picture of how the coronavirus is behaving among citizens.

“Parallel to the tests, we must implement a dashboard and an effective contract tracing system as there is the technology available for it,” the candidate said. “Also, we have to integrate the municipalities and their emergency management offices in order to advise the personnel. We could structure around the country a proactive dynamic against this virus as the government has simply established curfew hours, which I find important, but I believe that once the first reopening happened, we learned that there wasn’t enough data on how infection [rates were behaving] to make a choice like that one.”