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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

PIP official fires back at lawmaker who accused him of silence on Jobos Bay

Puerto Rican Independence Party Secretary of Environmental Affairs Víctor Alvarado Guzmán

By John McPhaul

Víctor Alvarado Guzmán, the Puerto Rican Independence Party’s (PIP) secretary of environmental affairs, earlier this week characterized as a “desperate lie” an accusation made by Popular Democratic Party (PDP) Rep. Luis “Narmito” Ortiz Lugo about Guzmán’s supposed silence in the face of the recently publicized ecological damages at the Jobos Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Salinas.

“It is impossible to give credibility to that uninformed accusation because it lacks truth,” Alvarado Guzmán said in a press release. “The Environmental Dialogue Committee, of which I am a spokesperson, publicly denounced the ecological destruction in Las Mareas in 2015 and we submitted several complaints to the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER), the (U.S. Army) Corps of Engineers and the Fish and Wildlife Service. People who worked under the PDP administration can attest to the record of our complaints, such as Carmen Guerrero, then-secretary of the DNER.”

“In 2017, when the destruction of the coast resumed, PIP Municipal Legislator Litzy Alvarado submitted a resolution to investigate the matter, but the municipal administration ignored it,” he said. “In addition, in recent weeks we have been active in the media explaining the matter and putting the history of the Las Mareas community in context.”

The PIP leader said Ortiz Lugo is disconnected from the community reality that families in Salinas and other coastal towns live in and have suffered for years.

“In addition to being disconnected from this reality, he is the one who has to explain to the Las Mareas community and other sectors of Salinas what his concrete efforts were to resolve the environmental destruction that we are facing. The work we have done in the community struggle is visible to all, even reviewed by the national press, and those who accuse us of ‘silence’ know it, and lie while aware of what they are doing,” Alvarado Guzmán said. “The question is, to those who have been in power, what have they done? I am from Salinas, I have spent half my life in community and environmental struggles, and I have never seen Rep. Ortiz act to help resolve these issues. We have spoken and acted; the one who has not listened and acted is him.”

The environmental adviser, who, the press release points out, was one of the hundred arrested for the fight against the dumping of coal ash in Peñuelas, invited Ortiz Lugo to explain why he has distributed boxes of water on behalf of the coal company AES, which he said has caused damage to the health of residents in Guayama and other towns.

“Likewise, he must explain his unconditional support for the immense shooting range that the Ranchos Guayama community rejects because it will affect their health, tranquility, environment and aquifer,” Alvarado Guzmán said. “Narmito has a lot to explain about his history of inaction and complicity as a representative, before aspiring to be mayor of Guayama.”

Ortiz Lugo declared himself a candidate for the vacant mayor’s seat in the southern coastal town on Wednesday.

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