• The Star Staff

Governor: Gender violence executive decree ‘has been well received’ by diverse sectors

Says order opens the door for gender perspective curriculum in public schools

By Pedro Correa Henry

Twitter: @pete_r_correa

Special to The Star

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia said Monday that the executive order he issued a day earlier declaring a state of emergency in Puerto Rico due to gender violence was “well thought out,” asserting that it covers every concern that various sectors have been voicing for more than three years.

During a press conference held after a cabinet meeting, Pierluisi said the declaration has been “well received” as it covered more ground than the order issued last October by then-Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced that included an “Action Protocol to Fight Violence Against Women in Puerto Rico.”

“Enough of this type of violence. This must be approached from the point of view of prevention, education, protection, and prosecution. This has to be addressed in a multisectoral, holistic manner and this is what this order envisions,” Pierluisi said. “Although all crime is bad and we have to fight it, there are times when you have to give particular attention to one type of crime, and I think the time has come to give particular attention to gender violence.”

The governor said there are pending matters such as requesting that every commonwealth agency include a budget resource to address the problem. He added that he will be meeting with the Financial Oversight and Management Board on Feb. 2.

“It is important for us to know that we are in an emergency. I have declared an emergency. We are going to address the matter,” Pierluisi said. “The measures will remain, the improvements in the justice system, in the courts and at the educational level will remain.”

Additionally, the governor confirmed that Executive Order 2021-13 will conduct efforts to advise the Department of Education on returning gender perspective education to the public school system, after it was repealed by former Education Secretary Julia Keleher.

“We are attending to the ramifications with seriousness and commitment, and this has a certain date,” Pierluisi said. “The order is in effect until the end of fiscal year 2022, but it can be extended and this is so at the request of the [Gender Violence Prevention, Support, Rescue and Education] committee and because the groups themselves requested it.”

Pierluisi added that if gender perspective were not to be included, he would file an executive order that requested its implementation.

Trans people to be included in gender-violence emergency order

When a member of the press asked if the executive order would include changes within the Puerto Rico Police Bureau on the handling of homicide cases that involve trans people, Family Secretary Carmen González said the Gender Violence Prevention, Support, Rescue and Education Committee will collaborate with members of the academic field to gather data and information to conduct training within government agencies.

“One of the first initiatives that will begin almost immediately is training coordination for law enforcement officers, but also for the personnel and public servants of the agencies that provide related services,” González said. “We are working with non-profit organizations from this sector because they also provide us with information about the training workshops, as well as how to develop sensitivity, empathy, and a sense of inclusion, not only in the agencies but also in the community.”

Meanwhile, the STAR asked if there will be systematic reform in the management of cases that involve the trans community under the executive order, as members of that community have complained about being misgendered and mistreated by the authorities. Public Safety Secretary Alexis Torres said he will be meeting with Police Commissioner Antonio López to address the problem.

“I will guarantee you that every citizen will have the same respect and the same services,” Torres said.