Union leader decries WIPR’s exclusion from ‘cultural rescue’ funds

By The Star Staff

Puerto Rico’s only public television channel, WIPR, did not get any money from the $50 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds that the government earmarked for cultural entities.

On Tuesday, General Workers Union (UGT by its Spanish initials) President Gerson Guzmán López blasted the decision. Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia on Monday announced the distribution of the money to support the financial liquidity of cultural institutions and boost the “orange” economy in Puerto Rico.

“It is regrettable and unacceptable that not a single penny of this $50 million has been allocated to WIPR, which, since its founding, has had as a mission to promote our Puerto Rican culture,” the union leader said. “It is shameful that, with money available to improve and promote the channel’s operations, the Puerto Rico Corporation for Public Broadcasting is kept in survival mode and dependent on collaborative agreements with other agencies.”

Guzmán López asked Pierluisi to amend the fiscal plan and allocate the necessary funds so that WIPR can continue with its educational and cultural mission.

“It is imperative to amend the fiscal plan so that WIPR is excluded, since the plan establishes the privatization of this valuable asset of the people of Puerto Rico,” he said.

The government should amend the fiscal plan and allocate the necessary funds for the operations of the corporation, Guzmán López said. Although WIPR is operating with its own funds, the allocation of funds by the government is necessary for it to continue working and bringing education and culture to its viewers, he said.

“The pandemic once again showed us how important WIPR is for Puerto Ricans, as it continues to be a fundamental part of the distance education programs that were created so that all our children and young people could continue to educate themselves from their homes,” the UGt leader said.

Since 2016, the Financial Oversight and Management Board has insisted that the government must privatize WIPR by transferring ownership of the station to a non-profit entity. It has also declined to reprogram funds to the television station.

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