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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Lawmaker: Crippling cyberattack shows port cargo merger was ill-advised

In April 2020, the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice raised serious reservations about the merger agreement between two companies to provide cargo services in the port of San Juan, a veteran lawmaker said.

By The Star Staff

Rep. José Aponte Hernández said Thursday that the consortium Puerto Nuevo Terminals (Luis Ayala Colón-Tote Maritime), the main cargo company in the port of San Juan, suffered a cyberattack last Saturday that has resulted in a near-historic blockage in the dispatch of goods.

“We have been consistent from day one, Luis Ayala Colón-Tote Maritime’s monopoly on cargo operations at the port of San Juan terminals in Puerto Nuevo is a bad deal for Puerto Rico, and this week it was proven again,” the veteran lawmaker said in a written statement. “On Saturday, the company’s systems suffered a cyberattack that rendered them inoperable. Since then, all work related to unloading barges and placing cargo containers on trucks has been done by hand, delaying the process for all other companies and resulting in an almost historic stoppage of cargo vehicles on Kennedy Avenue.”

“This cyberattack once again exposed how vulnerable our cargo infrastructure is at the Puerto Nuevo terminal with a single company dominating the entire market, as is the case with Puerto Nuevo Terminals,” added the at-large legislator and former speaker of the island House of Representatives. “Yesterday [Wednesday] it was obvious to any driver on Kennedy Avenue the massive traffic jam and the almost endless line of cargo trucks waiting to enter the port facilities. This delay, caused by the monopoly, affects the distribution chain and causes a dislocation in trade and our people.”

In April 2020, the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice raised serious reservations about the merger agreement between the aforementioned companies to provide services in the port of San Juan. According to the federal agency, the agreement is “made to provide a competitive advantage” to the new entity.

In the previous four-year legislative term (2017-2020), Aponte led the investigation into the aforementioned merger, under the auspices of House Resolution 1523, which ordered the House Federal, International and Status Relations committees, along with the government entities in charge of economic development, planning, telecommunications, public-private partnerships and energy, to conduct an exhaustive investigation into the processes leading to the approval of the proposed merger of maritime cargo companies Luis A. Ayala Colón and Tote Maritime.

The probe determined that the merger was not in the best interests of the people of Puerto Rico.

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