Let’s put an end to the abuse of pyrotechnics, particularly at Christmas
By José M. Saldaña
Cayey Mayor Rolando Ortiz Velázquez is one of the best mayors Puerto Rico has. You only have to look at the great transformation that Cayey has had in the last two decades during Rolando’s incumbency to concur with this assessment. From the moment you leave the Luis A. Ferré Expressway to enter Cayey you see order and ornamental beauty, and progress is perceived.
Cayey has become one of the most modern and progressive municipalities on the island.
In a page 4 article in the Dec. 27, 2022 edition of the STAR under the headline “Pyrotechnics law not enforced, Cayey mayor laments” the mayor complains that since June 25, 1963 there has been a law against pyrotechnics (the Puerto Rico Pyrotechnics Act) that was amended in 2004 and 2006 but is not executed. It is not enforced.
This sort of non-execution of or non-compliance with our laws is, unfortunately, nothing new on our island. I am sure that Puerto Rico has more laws than any other territory under the American flag, but unfortunately, most of the time they are not enforced and, worst of all, there is no one to enforce them.
There are numerous traditions around the world on New Year’s Eve. In most civilized progressive countries, the event is carried out with parties and social gatherings where music and fireworks predominate, as well as toasting with champagne and eating 12 grapes during the sounding of 12 bells of the village church.
In Puerto Rico, instead of the above -- for decades -- unfortunately the practice of saying goodbye to the passing year in many places has been characterized by shooting in the air with firearms, with firecrackers and quarter sticks.
As Mayor Ortiz Velázquez pointed out, this harmful practice threatens public safety, the health of sectors of the population, our pets and other domestic animals. In all sectors of the island, we have autistic children who suffer from an exaggerated response to the auditory stimuli caused by fireworks, as well as bedridden elderly people suffering from conditions such as Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular disease who are seriously affected by this practice, in some cases in a lethal way. Our pets are affected in the same way; they become extremely nervous, causing them to become disoriented and flee their homes.
It is time for a well formulated government strategy in the media to educate our population about the evils this practice produces and the need to end it. But while that happens, it is necessary to enforce the law, which in Puerto Rico unfortunately we do not do, not only in this case but in many others as well.
I congratulate Mayor Rolando Ortiz Velázquez for taking the initiative to go to the media to point out this serious problem that affects not only Cayey but all of Puerto Rico. Let’s see what the central government and law enforcement authorities have to say and do about enforcing the law against this harmful practice.
José M. Saldaña, DMD, MPH, is a former president of the University of Puerto Rico.