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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Ex-senator: Senate VP’s remarks during Natural Resources confirmation hearing smack of illegality

Interim Natural and Environmental Resources Secretary Anaís Rodríguez Vega

By The Star Staff

Former senator Nelson Cruz Santiago lashed out against Senate Vice President Mariallys González Huertas on Monday for conditioning her vote to confirm interim Natural and Environmental Resources Secretary Anaís Rodríguez Vega on the granting of permits to a Jayuya company where a close relative works.

González Huertas made her remarks conditioning her vote last week at a public hearing, Cruz Santiago said. The former NPP senator said González Huertas’ remarks border on what may be deemed illegal.

“The mayor of Jayuya, who is her father, and who in fact is already on his way out, has interests in an asphalt company and that is why the senator is seeking the approval of the corresponding permits,” the former legislator said in a radio interview (Red Informativa). “The audio is available if it has not been deleted by the Senate.”

Cruz Santiago, a natural resources watchdog, called on the interim head of the DNER to file an ethics complaint in the event that she felt “threatened or intimidated by the public request.”

Also, Cruz Santiago asked Rodríguez Vega to confirm or deny whether last Wednesday night she received a call from the senator on her personal cell phone asking her what she was going to do with the controversial permit.

Rodríguez Vega acknowledged last week in the middle of a public hearing that she faced an avalanche of requests from different senators during the public hearing of the Senate Appointments Committee, which is evaluating her appointment to the position. But she was not categorical in confirming if the request of the current vice president of the Senate was one of them.

González Huertas rejected the allegations later on Monday, stating that it was “very unfortunate and shameful that in the desperation of some political aspirants they resort to lies or that their ignorance does not allow them to even see the truth.”

“The personal attacks of the defeated former senator Nelson Cruz are unfounded and lack truth,” she said. “In addition, they denote total ignorance of the projects and the needs of the district of Ponce and the south.”

González Huertas said that during Rodríguez Vega’s confirmation hearing she asked a series of questions about the status of various projects in several municipalities in the district, including: Lajas, Ponce, Sabana Grande and Jayuya, and about the payment of guards for extra hours worked in the aftermath of the 2019-2020 earthquakes.

“I have to tell Mr. Cruz that I represent my 13 municipalities with dignity and that Jayuya will not be the exception,” she said. “The Jayuyan constituents trusted this [public] servant to serve as their senator in these four years. The municipal project of which he shows total ignorance is extremely necessary to improve the quality of life of our people. And I can’t have people like [him] walking around spinning yarns.”

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