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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

DNER to investigate reports of unpermitted La Parguera boat lighting parade

Natural and Environmental Resources Secretary Anaís Rodríguez Vega

By The Star Staff

Natural and Environmental Resources Secretary Anaís Rodríguez Vega said over the weekend that she will investigate Friday night’s reported “Christmas Boat Parade” event in La Parguera, Lajas, which had been denied a permit by the agency.

“According to the request for permits that was made to us to carry out the Christmas Boat Parade, we conclude and maintain that this type of activity does not comply with the necessary legal and environmental parameters, which is why they were denied,” Rodríguez Vega said in a written statement issued Saturday. “However, while the images that have emerged of apparent similar activity could be interpreted as a challenge to authority, we will not comment lightly as to whether or not there were violations of the law. It is now up to us to carry out the investigations that are necessary to be able to reach any conclusion.”

Residents of Lajas accused Mayor Jayson “Jay” Martínez Maldonado of sponsoring the activity where, community leader Jorge Echeverria told the press, the boats looked like they had “a thousand lights lit.”

“Although some boat owners who were illuminated tried to cover up the official number of the boat assigned by the DNER, thanks to the residents of La Parguera and visitors it was possible to identify each of the boats that participated and the names of the owners or operators of the same,” said Israel Molina, a biologist and member of the group Friends of a Better Environment in La Parguera. “In the same way, photos and ‘video’ were taken that show the environmental disorder in defiance of the order issued by the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, which prohibits the lighting of Christmas lights so as not to affect the ecosystem of La Parguera Bay. We denounce the defiant attitude of the organizers of the activity who pretend to be absolute owners of the Bay property, carrying out a criminal environmental act which violates the laws of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the federal laws and regulations that apply to the conservation of the phenomenon of bioluminescence, or lighting by biological means, as is the case in Mosquito Bay in Vieques, La Parguera and Moncio José in Lajas and Laguna Grande in Fajardo.”

“Those who staged this event are the same ones who traditionally attack the mangrove ecosystem around La Parguera on holidays, especially at Easter,” the environmental advocate noted. “No agency or public official should overlook this challenge by people who are mostly not permanent residents of La Parguera, although it is recognized that they have built houses within the Bay, dumping sanitary waste, polluting chemical liquids and leftovers from liquid foods into the sea, among other things.”

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