Governor spotlights reconstruction of island’s southwest

By John McPhaul

At Saturday’s swearing-in ceremony for Yauco Mayor Ángel Luis Torres Ortiz, Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia insisted on the reconstruction of Puerto Rico’s southwest region, which was hit hard by last year’s earthquakes.

“Our enemies, and you, here, know it well, the enemies are earthquakes, lack of decent and safe housing, flooding problems, condemned properties, damaged infrastructure, and closed businesses,” Pierluisi said. “Against those enemies, Luigi and I are going to work together to make reconstruction better and thus give Yaucanos the quality of life that they deserve.”

Designated Secretary of State Larry Seilhamer Rodríguez said “reconstruction begins with Y for Yauco and not with A for the [San Juan] metropolitan area.”

“It also begins with G for Guayanilla, M for Maricao, S for Sabana Grande, P for Peñuelas and G for Guánica,” the mayor said at the beginning of his message. “We need help … from the impact of the earthquakes.”

Among the important projects that will begin development in the coming months are the construction of 30 houses for those affected by the earthquakes, the reconstruction of Ovidio Millino Park at a cost of $8.7 million and the construction of two bridges: one on PR Highway 2 that connects the town with the Cambalache community, and another in the Diego Hernández neighborhood.

“I am committed to a good government that is accessible to our people” the mayor said. “We will rebuild the service center integrated into the city center and begin a comprehensive plan to rebuild recreational facilities. In addition, we will begin the improvements to the community aqueduct in La Montaña sector, in the Río Prieto neighborhood. It is time for them to have a system that serves them well in a basic service.”

Torres Ortiz said he intends to work with the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture so that the urban area of Yauco is declared a historic district and several museums can be rebuilt. He added that he aims to create a consortium among mayors of southwestern municipalities to expedite projects related to earthquakes and facilitate better use of resources.

“It will be a year of harvests, of leaving behind regrets and sadness,” he said. “It was tough, but we stayed on our feet.”