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Mayor: COVID vaccination/testing rules are about health safety, not persecution


Camuy Mayor Gabriel Hernández Rodríguez had issued a memorandum stating that on Jan. 2 vaccination and testing for COVID-19 would take place, and municipal employees who did not attend to perform either of the two options would not be able to enter City Hall.


By JOHN McPHAUL

jpmcphaul@gmail.com


Camuy Mayor Gabriel Hernández Rodríguez reacted on Tuesday to complaints from employees who refused to take a COVID-19 test and are staging a protest outside the municipality’s town hall.


Hernández issued a memorandum stating that on Jan. 2 vaccination and testing for COVID-19 would take place, and people who did not attend to perform either of the two options would have to stay home or outside City Hall.


“As part of the return to administrative work of all employees of the municipality of Camuy, our administration made the decision to request and process antigen tests in order to ensure a healthy environment in each of the offices of the municipality and prevent the spread or outbreaks of this virus. Our sole intention is that both employees and visitors are safe when they show up at their work areas or when they are going to request a service. At no time has the intention of this administration been to persecute employees, but rather, as has been said, to ensure a healthy work environment,” the mayor said in a written statement. “The determination to carry out COVID detection tests and make bivalent vaccines voluntarily available are part of our responsibility to have a protected population free of COVID-19 infections and anyone who does not want to be vaccinated has always been respected. It is important to note that 311 employees were tested and only the employee who makes the complaint refused to do so. The municipal administration is consistent in requesting the proof for the reasons explained above.”


Rawell Rivera Feliciano said Tuesday that she had been outside City Hall for days trying to get into her work area, the Bureau of Women’s Affairs, which is directed by Jakeline Vélez Méndez, and has been denied entrance by order of the mayor.


Rivera Feliciano refuses to be vaccinated or tested for COVID-19 antigens, and she alleged Tuesday that for this reason she is not allowed to work.


“I feel harassed, mistreated, discriminated against, simply because I do not believe in anything that has to do with vaccinations and tests,” Rivera Feliciano said in a written statement. “About a year ago I delivered an affidavit as requested by Executive Order of the Government; there are more than twenty employees with situations similar to mine and many of them have been threatened by the trusted administration. Others were forced to be vaccinated, violating the most sacred rights, such as the right to privacy. City Manager Christian Martínez notified me that he is not vaccinated, nor has evidence of testing as of Jan. 3, and many of my colleagues have told me they haven’t asked for testing either. What we believe is that it is selective persecution by the Municipal Executive.”


Rivera Feliciano said people who did not attend the Jan. 2 vaccination/testing clinic to perform either of the two options were instructed that besides being required to stay at home, or at least not enter City Hall, they would be able to take advantage of the applicable vacation benefit and exhaust the corresponding compensatory times.


“The mayor has explained that his decision is due to an Executive Order made last year by Dr. Carlos Mellado, Secretary of Health,” the employee alleged. “This order was made earlier than [those issued] by the president of the United States, Joe Biden, and the Governor of Puerto Rico, Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia, with the culmination of the pandemic. Secretary Mellado also repealed the same order, after these proposals.”


Employees who do not want to comply with the mayor’s directive are continuing the protests in front of the Camuy Municipal Legislature starting at 8:30 a.m.

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