PDP Senate candidate accuses Senate president of trying to destroy General Archive
By The Star Staff
Popular Democratic Party Senate candidate Ada Álvarez Conde accused Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz of evidence-tampering by promoting a bill that would destroy official documents.
Álvarez Conde made her remarks at a news conference together with a dozen historians and librarians in front of the General Archive of Puerto Rico, in San Juan.
“Senate Bill 1661 intends to destroy the Archive of Puerto Rico with harmful amendments to Act No. 5, approved in 1955. It was filed in July 2020 and approved in a special session,” Álvarez Conde said. “In practice, the bill annuls the fiscal and legal power of the Archive and general archivist of Puerto Rico to exercise their roles as official custodians of the documents of the country’s agencies. Legislation for this [purpose] is a way of not being able to control the management of funds and the government administrations themselves; it is a way of hiding corruption. And avoiding government transparency. In other words, it is a way of erasing the trail of their misdeeds.”
The Senate candidate has a doctorate degree in Puerto Rico history and her thesis was on Act No. 5 of 1955, the law that regulates the information collected in the national archives since its creation, and the budgets assigned since 1985 as well as the cultural policy on documentary heritage.
“This law was presented without consulting the Archive, without consulting with its director or the specialized personnel of the Archive, and behind the country’s back,” Álvarez Conde said. “The bill attacks and damages the historical memory of the country and the documentary heritage of the country.”
A presentation from Institute of Puerto Rican Culture (IPRC) Director Carlos Ruiz states that “the new proposed article eliminates the intervention of the General Archivist in the final decision on the conservation of physical documents.”
“If these [documents] are destroyed, without the consultation of experts, thousands of historical and permanently valuable documents will not be available for public use,” and later the presentation indicates that the IPRC is NOT in favor of its approval in an extraordinary session.
The bill was introduced on July 24 and was approved by the Senate but did not complete the legislative process.
Senate Bill 1661 provides that the heads of agencies may authorize the destruction of documents starting three months after they are produced or reproduced, without being subject to the authorization or intervention of any other public entity.
“This is an affront to justice and I call for intervention now before it is too late,” Álvarez Conde said. “From now on we see the intention to destroy evidence and that makes corruption cases go unpunished.”
The candidate noted that the legislation will allow for the destruction of documents from various agencies that have been the target of investigations related to acts of corruption.
Álvarez Conde added that the General Archive is named after Ricardo Alegría and next year it would be 100 years old. She said Senate Bill 1661 is an affront to Alegria’s memory and cultural achievements.
“This is an attack on culture, on memory,” she said. “Let us be clear, the archive is the custodian of memory and belongs to the people, it is not a government warehouse.”