• The Star Staff

Governor to attend Biden’s inauguration, address pro-statehood plebiscite results

Says anti-crime plan was under development before Baldorioty police killings

By Pedro Correa Henry

Twitter: @PCorreaHenry

Special to The Star

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia said Wednesday he will be “challenging the lack of equality” in Puerto Rico when he attends President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration next Wednesday, and he will advance the Nov. 3 statehood plebiscite results with members of the U.S. Congress in Washington, D.C.

After attending Bayamón Mayor Ramón Luis Rivera’s sixth inauguration, Pierluisi said he will be “enforcing the ministerial duty that I have to request that federal authorities address and respond to the people’s vote in the plebiscite.” Around 655,505 islanders voted “Yes” for statehood in the Election Day referendum.

The governor told members of the press that “a transition toward statehood” is taking place and he will call for it on the mainland, as the “Final Political Status Definition of Puerto Rico Act” -- the law that created the plebiscite and that the Puerto Rico Supreme Court later ruled constitutional -- requires.

Meanwhile, Pierluisi added that he will use every chance he has to meet with federal authorities to address issues such as including Medicaid programs in the island government’s healthcare plan, seeking to include islanders in the Supplemental Security Income program and the Child Tax Credit Equity for Puerto Rico Act of 2019, which would let island residents with one or two children claim the refundable portion of the credit on the same basis as residents with three or more children, and other federal programs “in which we must call for equality.”

“The main issue that you are going to see me bring to Washington consistently is the lack of equality, the lack of equality in federal programs, and the lack of political equality,” the governor said.

After that, he said, “statehood will solve everything.”

“In what we achieve [on the way to] statehood, I will be demanding equality, as will our resident commissioner …” he added.

As for the “coordinated plan” announced Tuesday that La Fortaleza would be developing along with the island Public Safety Department and other entities to confront a rise in violent crime in Puerto Rico, Pierluisi said “the development of an integrated plan to fight crime in Puerto Rico was already on course” before the killing of three police officers by a carjacker in Carolina on Monday afternoon.

“Basically, what is in my government plan is to coordinate the work of not only the state police, but also the municipal police, and the federal law enforcement agencies such as the FBI [Federal Bureau of Investigation], DEA [Drug Enforcement Administration], and ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] to be more effective,” the governor said. “Meetings are already underway.”

Pierluisi added that both state and federal authorities are in the process of improving intelligence gathering on criminal activity throughout the island “to conduct the necessary operations and investigations.”

As for the ongoing homicide investigation, the governor said the island Justice Department assigned seven prosecutors to investigate the case, and that U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico W. Stephen Muldrow said they could count on him and the FBI “if there’s jurisdiction to handle it.”

“We’re working as we should, and I will be following the case with both the Public Safety secretary [Alexis Torres] and the Puerto Rico Police commissioner [Col. Antonio López] to be sure that we are fighting crime,” Pierluisi said.

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