PDP gubernatorial hopeful Cruz Soto wants to fight corruption without fear
By Pedro Correa Henry
Special to The Star
Popular Democratic Party (PDP) gubernatorial hopeful Carmen Yulín Cruz Soto presented on Monday her proposal to fight against corruption and bring back the main values of the party: bread, soil and freedom.
Cruz Soto, along with members of the National Popular Youth, said that after watching the events that took place during the summer of 2019, she thought it was fundamental to develop a governance plan that would promote transparency and bring democracy back to Puerto Rico. Her plan, titled “A New Moral Compass: A Clean Government and a Leader Without Political Strings,” proposes to deliver public policies that will hold accountability against impunity and ineptitude from recent governments like those of former Gov. Ricardo Rosselló Nevares and the non-elected current governor, Wanda Vázquez Garced.
“If there has been consistency in Ricky, [New Progressive Party gubernatorial hopeful Pedro] Pierluisi and Wanda’s government, it has been with corruption,” Cruz said. “If the youth ever wanted something and even occupied the streets of Old San Juan and other places in Puerto Rico, it is because they wanted to get rid of corruption and every politician having strings attached to someone.”
Some of Cruz Soto’s recommendations are creating a Transparency Commission in a period of 100 days to six months where members of the press, lawyers and investigative organizations will collaborate to rewrite the Puerto Rico Open Data Law, as the aforementioned has been heavily criticized for its lack of clarity and bureaucracy in accessing public information.
Another suggestion in Cruz Soto’s anti-corruption plan is to repeal Article 3.7 of the Government Ethics Law, which gives public servants a chance for a waiver from the governor and his or her constitutional cabinet and come back a year after not serving in an entity that was hired for professional services or investigated by any gubernatorial institution.
“Every elected official, from municipal legislators to the governor, and public servants, under the law, must file their tax returns on a government website that is accessible. And every government candidate must submit at least five tax returns, including one from the year before the general elections,” said Cruz Soto, the mayor of San Juan. “You can say what you would like about me, but you can never point at me and say I have strings attached to anyone. As proof, from today, you can go to sinmiedo.pr in order to see my tax returns from 2008 to 2019 and draw your own conclusions.”
Likewise, she said that people might learn from her tax returns that she has a debt with the Treasury Department, which she still owes around $30,000; however, she said, in order to become a candidate for the PDP, she had to prove she has an up-to-date payment plan, and she demanded similar transparency from Pierluisi and Vázquez.
“To the Financial Oversight and Management Board lobbyist and to the people who hide BMWs at [their] home, show your tax returns to all Puerto Ricans and demonstrate to whom you have strings attached,” Cruz Soto said. “I have nothing to hide because I know the youth need a government that does not work for private interests.”
Cruz: ‘Our fragile electrical system concerns me’
Meanwhile, Cruz Soto told the press that as the National Weather Service keeps its eye on a climatic event that is approaching the Lesser Antilles and Puerto Rico this week, islanders have supplied themselves with sufficient medicine and nourishment. However, she is concerned about the vulnerability of the electric power grid.
“I’m concerned about the electric power shutting down, as it is fragile; although I do not want the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority to be privatized, I want things to work well,” she said. “Usually, when there’s no power, there’s no water at our homes, and that’s concerning under the COVID-19 pandemic.”
As for shelters during the pandemic, she said it has been a challenge as capacity for refugees will be more limited and the capital city is still investigating how to relocate vulnerable citizens while maintaining safety measures against the spread of the coronavirus.
“I can’t put 685 people in Roberto Clemente Coliseum now,” she said. “I have to probably reduce it to 400 as we take advantage of the center stage and its second floor. Same goes for Pedrín Zorrilla Coliseum -- from 400 people, it must be reduced to 200 to keep people safe from the disease.”