Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks 8:41 AM 3/8/2018
|Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks|
|IMPRESSIVE!!! Drone Footage Historic Coastal Floods in Puerto Rico 2018 – YouTube|
IMPRESSIVE!!! Drone Footage Historic Coastal Floods in Puerto Rico 2018
|Liquidity in the Electric Power Authority improves|
A little over a month ago, the Fiscal Oversight Board (JSF) asked Judge Laura Taylor Swain to authorize $ 1,300 million as soon as possible so that the Electric Power Authority (PREPA) could continue to operate.
Yesterday, Martin Bienenstock, told that the things in the PREPA are better than previously believed.
In a presentation that lasted approximately 10 minutes, Bienenstock told Swain that, based on the information he had received from the government, PREPA no longer has the urgency to borrow more money because it has recovered the billing levels it had before the hurricanes Irma and María will pull down part of the Puerto Rico electrical system.
According to Bienenstock, as a result of the recovery of the PREPA income and after the loan of $ 300 million, the public corporation can operate “by itself” at least until next May, when it may need new financing.
Bienenstock’s expressions about the PREPA were the first item on the agenda of the March general hearing in the Title III Promise cases held yesterday, when the lawyer anticipated that the JSF and the Financial Advisory Authority and Tax Agency (Aafaf)) could make a new financing request next month.
“I like to hear that PREPA’s revenues have increased,” Swain told Bienenstock, revealing a kind of smile on his lips.
On February 19, after listening to arguments for almost six hours, Swain concluded that PREPA did not need the multi-million dollar amount requested by the JSF and Aafaf but the $ 300 million that it finally approved.
De acuerdo con Bienenstock, luego que la jueza Swain aprobara el financiamiento de $300 millones, la JSF y la Aafaf ponderaban regresar este mismo mes a la corte para solicitar un nuevo préstamo por $550 millones. En dicha solicitud, explicó el abogado, se contemplaba refinanciar los $300 millones ya otorgados por el Fondo General y $250 millones de nuevo capital. Pero esa estrategia tiene menos de 50% de probabilidad de convertirse en realidad, indicó Bienenstock.
La caja de la AEE
Según el asesor financiero de la AEE, Todd Filsinger, se debe activar un plan de emergencia para reducir operaciones y apagar plantas generadoras si los niveles de efectivo en la corporación pública se reducen a $100 millones, porque no habría dinero para comprar combustible o pagar la nómina de los trabajadores.
Según un reporte de liquidez de la AEE del pasado 5 de marzo ante la Junta Reglamentadora de Valores Municipales (MSRB, en inglés), desde enero hasta la semana que concluyó el 23 de febrero, la AEE recaudó $327.6 millones con la venta de electricidad asus clientes. En la semana del 23 de febrero, la AEE recibió el préstamo del Fondo General y, en esa fecha, había en caja unos $288 millones.
Partiendo del informe de la AEE que muestra las proyecciones de efectivo a 13 semanas, luego de la inyección de $300 millones que aprobó Swain, ese posible escenario catastrófico en el que la liquidez quedaría por debajo de la marca de $100 millones no se daría hasta mayo próximo.
Ese escenario parte de la premisa de que la AEE cobraría semanalmente de sus abonados entre $20 millones y $31 millones. Se trata de cifras menores a la tendencia que la AEE ha reflejado desde principios de enero. Según el reporte, en ese periodo, el ingreso promedio semanal por facturación a los abonados rondó $40.95 millones.
Cambio de cifras
No es la primera vez que la JSF y el gobierno describen cuadros adversos de las finanzas públicas de Puerto Rico que no se materializan.
El año pasado, la JSF dijo a Swain que necesitaba acceder a los recaudos del Impuesto sobre Ventas y Uso (IVU) en manos de la Corporación del Fondo de Interés Apremiante (Cofina) porque el gobierno federal quedaría sin dinero en diciembre pasado, pero eso no sucedió.
Asimismo, en octubre pasado, la Aafaf dijo a la JSF que los recaudos del Fondo General podrían colapsar hasta en 50% como secuela del huracán María y que eso hacía indispensable obtener cuanto antes el préstamo de emergencia bajo el programa de Comunidades Afectadas por Desastres (CDL, en inglés).
Sin embargo, el Tesoro federal -que determina las condiciones de dicho préstamo- ha concluido que la urgencia de allegar efectivo es menor de lo que reclama el gobierno, porque, consistentemente, el balance en la cuenta principal del gobierno o TSA, en inglés, se muestra por encima de $1,500 millones a pesar de la devastación ocasionada por el huracán María.
Now, however, the improvement in PREPA’s cash could affect the efforts of the central government for the Federal Treasury to disburse the CDL because, among the conditions to release the loan, it included that the TSA account has a balance of less than $ 800 millions.
Until last February 23 and after disbursing the loan of $ 300 million to PREPA, the TSA account held by the Department of the Treasury showed a cash balance of $ 1,560 million.
|puerto rico – YouTube|
|Project Loon: Delivering emergency connectivity in Puerto Rico – YouTube|
|Rebuilding Puerto Rico – YouTube|
|0:08 Did Donald Trump abandon Puerto Rico? | UpFront – YouTube|
|Months after Hurricane Maria, ‘people have changed’ in Puerto Rico – YouTube|
|Puerto Rico’s governor takes steps to privatize power utility|
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Puerto Rico’s Governor Ricardo Rossello on Monday pressed proposals for privatizing the U.S. commonwealth’s shattered electrical grid as part of its painstaking recovery from devastating September hurricanes.
Rossello used his State of the State speech to say that he had introduced an energy reform bill on Monday, while outlining ideas for cutting taxes, increasing police pay and introducing education reforms.
Hurricanes Maria and Irma killed dozens of people and caused an estimated $100 billion in damage to a recession-bound economy in which more than 45 percent of its 3.4 million U.S. citizens live in poverty.
Rossello also repeated his call for the federal government to stop treating Puerto Ricans as “second-class U.S. citizens” in terms of disaster relief.
“Disaster response should not be based on the notion of being Republican or Democrat, but rather on the equal treatment and aid to U.S. citizens,” Rossello said, while recognizing support from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, and Florida Governor Rick Scott, a Republican, who was in Puerto Rico and attended the event.
In January, Rossello announced his intention to sell off the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority’s power generation assets, and said it could take about 18 months to complete.
On Monday he said the energy reform bill would “define the process” for privatized and public-private partnerships (P3s). These so-called P3 projects would shift development costs onto the private sector, and in return typically would be paid fees from government to manage a property.
Hurricane Maria took out the island’s power. More than 5 months later, 12.5 percent, or 185,200, of customers, do not have electricity, according to the latest data from the U.S. Department of Energy.
Puerto Rico’s Christmas in the dark 4:20
The goal is to reduce Puerto Rico’s high energy costs to less than 20 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh). A year ago, PREPA, Puerto Rico’s electric utility, was instructed by the federally appointed Financial Oversight and Management Board to achieve customer rates no higher than 21 cents per kWh by 2023.
Under a 2016 federal Puerto Rico rescue law known as PROMESA, the board was given the authority to push Puerto Rico into a court-supervised restructuring akin to U.S. bankruptcy, which it did in May as it reeled under $120 billion in combined bond and pension debt.
The board extended the deadline for certifying the government’s revised fiscal plan to March 30, which Rossello said “should be approved within the next weeks.”
“This plan cannot be merely fiscal; it needs to be transformative and include the aspirations of our people,” he said.
While Rossello has focused on cutting spending by reorganizing and reducing the size of the government, he is advocating more resources for police including a salary increase of $1,500 per officer, and higher pay for teachers.
Rosello also vowed once again to cut income taxes for individuals and businesses, and reduce sales tax on prepared food. Once completed, individual taxpayers could see savings from $450 to $950 a year, the governor projected.
|$58 million available for Puerto Rico teacher, police pay raise Caribbean Business|
SAN JUAN — Gov. Ricardo Rosselló explained Tuesday that the money to finance the $1,500 annual pay raise for teachers and police officers, he announced in his State of the Commonwealth address Monday evening will be obtained via savings from the Education and Police departments’ restructuring.
Rosselló told the media that the wage hike for teachers would have a cost of roughly $38 million, while the raise for officers would be around $17 million to $20 million.
“It’s important to emphasize that we are getting this money from the same agency, from restructuring the same agency,” the governor said at a press conference held in La Fortaleza.
Rosselló said the consolidation of Police stations and administrative functions are some of the measures that would produce the savings needed to provide the raise.
“We found the way to cut costs…and we decided to invest in the Police,” he said. “We are changing the Police structure so it functions better.”
During his second annual message Monday, the governor also announced that the sales and use tax (IVU by its Spanish acronym) on prepared food would drop from 11.5% to 7%. He explained Tuesday that the fiscal impact of this measure would “depend on how it is executed, between $60 [million] and $78 million.”
Rosselló explained that the lost IVU revenue would be covered by “the Incentives Code transition,” “efficiencies we are seeking” and “other technical initiatives that are being worked on, as well as “other measures” that are being discussed with the island’s fiscal oversight board.
During his speech Monday, the governor mentioned tax reform but did not give details about when he would introduce a bill.
“More competitiveness, fewer taxes, incentives to work, and world-class preparation are the ingredients to achieve a productive Puerto Rico and change the chronic condition of labor participation forever,” the governor said in his annual speech.
Regarding the incentives to work, when asked by Reorg Research about the Earned Income Tax Credit, he said there is an estimated $150 million to $200 million.
|Puerto Rico fiscal board says federal law gives it purview over power utility restructuring Caribbean Business|
SAN JUAN – Puerto Rico’s Financial Oversight and Management Board (FOMB) reminded the court Tuesday that it has ruled that it has no jurisdiction to review the type of challenge to board determinations such as the one brought by the Puerto Rico Energy Commission (PREC).
“PREC is improperly seeking to inject itself into a process that Promesa [federal law] commits to the Oversight Board’s sole discretion; and PREC is seeking an impermissible advisory opinion about what types of things the FOMB (Board) can and cannot put in certified fiscal plans,” the fiscal panel said.
“The fact that PREC does not have a chance of prevailing on its claims and has not shown any irreparable injury does not mean that the Oversight Board believes that PREPA [Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority] should not have a strong, independent regulator. To the contrary, the Oversight Board has always maintained that such a regulator is needed. But an independent regulator still does not have the right to dictate to the Oversight Board how Prepa should be restructured under PROMESA,” the board added.
PREC sued the fiscal board and the public power company Sunday to reassert its authority over the utility. Prepa’s fiscal plan proposes actions that affect the island’s electric power policy in matters of power supply mix, capital and operating expenditures, internal operations, revenue requirements and rate design, all of which lie within the energy commission’s purview under the law, the regulator says.
Its complaint requests the court to declare that the fiscal board can neither mandate nor authorize Prepa to take actions that infringe on PREC jurisdiction.
“Prepa has submitted this Fiscal Plan to FOMB without presenting its substance to the Commission for its review—a review necessary to determine whether the proposed actions are consistent with Commonwealth statutes, as interpreted and applied by the only agency legally authorized to interpret and apply those statutes. FOMB has declined to provide the document to the Commission,” the energy regulator’s legal recourse reads.
A clarification from the court, PREC argues, would result in the fiscal board dropping “its unexplained, nine-months-long resistance to collaborating with the Commission to create sensible decision-making protocols” the regulator said would make effective use of each entity’s legal powers.
Although the fiscal board asserts it has the power to mandate or authorize Prepa activities, thus influencing power restoration efforts on the island, utility operations and the sought after transformation of Puerto Rico’s electric industry, its position conflicts with the commission’s duties, PREC reiterated.
“Both the assertion and application of that power (as FOMB sees it), and the resulting legal uncertainty, is currently, and will continue to be, harmful to the Commission, PREPA’s electricity customers, existing and future bondholders and the public interest,” the commission wrote.
|puerto rico agriculture – Google Search|
Frederick News Post–Feb 11, 2018
As of Tuesday, approximately 98 percent of Puerto Ricans had access to water, but only 80 percent of the island’s residents had access to electricity five months after the storm, according to Status PR, a website set up by the government to track repairs to critical resources after Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
Two Philanthropic Approaches to Strengthening Puerto Rico
Nonprofit Quarterly–Feb 13, 2018
Visiting Puerto Rico After Hurricane Maria: What You Need To Know
In-Depth–Forbes–Feb 13, 2018
Traverse City Record Eagle–Feb 17, 2018
In January, we traveled to participate in the fourth training session offered in Puerto Rico. Just over four months had passed since Hurricane Maria devastated the island on Sept. 20. We knew going in, from our UPR colleagues and news reports, that much of the island remained without power and that …
The New Food Economy–Mar 5, 2018
This brings us back to Goenaga, the plant physiologist who oversees the Tropical Agriculture Research Station in Mayaguez, a municipality on the western coast of Puerto Rico. Just as Crespo de León is determined to restore his farm, Goenaga is determined to provide seeds and tree grafts to the farmers …
Fence Post–Feb 20, 2018
WASHINGTON – Puerto Rico residents continuing to recover from the impacts of recent hurricanes could be eligible for increased nutrition assistance, thanks to a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This temporary assistance will be distributed through the Puerto Rico Nutrition Assistance …
Puerto Rico Relief Fund of South Central Wisconsin Raises $90000 …
<a href=”http://madison365.com” rel=”nofollow”>madison365.com</a>–Feb 19, 2018
WXPR–Mar 5, 2018
Utility crews continue to make progress restoring power at the hurricane-ravaged U.S. territory of Puerto Rico. It was the first time that power crews from Wisconsin Public Service and WE Energies went outside the continental United States to help restore power. Several Northwoods personnel joined the …
Agri News–Feb 9, 2018
Farm Bureau members had many proud moments at the American Farm Bureau Federation annual convention last month. One of my proudest moments was when information about the Puerto Rico Agricultural Relief Fund was presented in the trade show and on the big screen at our general session.
|Agriculture in Puerto Rico – Wikipedia|
The existence of a thriving agricultural economy has been prevented due to a shift in priorities towards industrialization, bureaucratization, mismanagement of terrains, lack of alternative methods and a deficient workforce. Its geographical location within the Caribbean exacerbates these issues, making the scarce existing crops propense to the devastating effects of Atlantic hurricanes.
|Puerto Ricos Positive Business Slogans Cant Keep the Lights On|
“This is like the perfect storm of an economic disaster,” said Javier E. Zapata-Rodríguez, deputy director of economic development for PathStone Enterprise Center, which advises small businesses in Puerto Rico. “There is not enough capital flowing, and a lot of small businesses are closing up shop because they were ailing before the hurricane.”
A major problem is that insurance claims are being paid too slowly and 60 percent of household requests for federal emergency grants are being denied. That means fewer dollars are churning through the local economy, when not much money is coming in from elsewhere.
Tourism, which accounts for about 6 percent of the island’s economy and supports more than 60,000 jobs, is all but gone for this season.
Nearly a dozen big resorts in and around San Juan — including El Conquistador, the Caribe Hilton, the Ritz Carlton and El San Juan — are closed. Many hotels that are open are filled not with tourists but with relief workers and government contractors who are staying at discounted rates.
An electronic sign outside the Condado Plaza Hilton, owned by the Blackstone Group, the private equity firm, periodically flashes: “Rooms for relief work and government work available.” Blackstone, which also owns El Conquistador, said it had been paying salaries and providing health benefits to hundreds of furloughed workers.
Others associated with the tourism business are just scraping by.
“Right now, 90 to 95 percent of our business is down,” said Nancy Matos, who with her husband owns GSI Puerto Rico, which organizes outings for tourists. The 25-year-old business has been hurt by limited access to El Yunque National Forest, a tropical rain forest that suffered major storm damage. GSI, which normally employs up to 80 people, is down to about 30. The company hopes to get some business from relief workers.
As many as 200,000 residents have left to live on the mainland. Some companies that are trying to reopen are struggling to find people who can work on construction projects or in factories to produce steel.
A report last year by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that four months before Maria, 36 percent of Puerto Rico’s small businesses planned to hire more workers and 50 percent planned to invest in new equipment and technologies.
The storm laid waste to those plans.
In Ponce, a city on Puerto Rico’s southern coast, PathStone is helping 200 small businesses get financing, find workers and retrain them if necessary.
A few weeks ago, PathStone, in partnership with the New York Fed, staged a daylong event for small businesses seeking financing from banks and other lenders. Representatives from 170 businesses showed up in search of help, Mr. Zapata-Rodríguez said. About a third of the companies that PathStone works with in Puerto Rico do not have reliable electrical power, he added.
The fragility of the power grid remains particularly frustrating. On Thursday, hundreds of thousand of customers — many in San Juan and along the island’s northern coast — lost power in the middle of the workday. Generators considered optional before Maria are now a necessity. Starbucks is moving to ensure that most of its 26 stores in Puerto Rico, two of which are still closed, have generators.
The power failure interrupted a meeting that David Rodriguez was having in Caguas to discuss plans for a new business involving the sale of solar-powered generators.
Mr. Rodriguez, who was born in Puerto Rico and runs a telecommunications engineering firm in Rochester, N.Y., returned to the island in December to visit family. He was alarmed to find his uncle living with a gasoline-powered generator running inside the house — a serious health risk. His uncle said he was keeping the generator indoors because he was afraid it might be stolen if it was outside.
That experience led Mr. Rodriguez to start a company, InverSol, to make small solar generators that can be installed on roofs and provide at least some power during blackouts. The company eventually could employ up to 70 people and produce up to 7,000 generators a year for $2,000 each.
“We want to get some basic humanity back,” Mr. Rodriguez said.
One challenge, however, has been finding an undamaged location that can be quickly converted into a factory. He is working with PathStone to hire former farmworkers who have experience using heavy equipment.
The search for qualified workers is troubling a broad swath of businesses.
Frankie Vazquez Marrero runs a business that sells precast walls and structured steel. He employed 22 workers before Maria. Now he is down to three. Many of his best workers left the island or are trying to move into other industries. He is still waiting for the company’s insurer to cover some of its storm-related losses.
“We lost our very best workers, and the new hires don’t have the knowledge,” he said.
Things could be worse in Puerto Rico. Auto sales were up 21 percent in January, in part because people needed to replace damaged vehicles, said José Villamil of Estudios Técnicos, an economic research firm. Fewer people are falling behind on mortgage payments, according to the data firm Black Knight. The construction industry is growing.
At the investment conference, there was much talk about how Puerto Rico’s low-tax environment will draw investors from the United States and China. Others were bullish about the island’s growing reputation as a haven for cryptocurrency start-ups. Brokers from Sotheby’s International Realty worked the hallway outside the conference room, trying to drum up interest in luxury waterfront homes in the nearby community of Dorado.
But many overseas investors are waiting to see what happens with the island’s electrical grid and a moratorium on home foreclosures that a federal housing agency just extended until mid-May.
Billions of dollars from Washington are starting to flow, for rebuilding the electrical grid and for housing and urban development projects. But the package is well short of the tens of billions that experts have said are needed.
And insurance money is just trickling in. So far, 299,999 claims have been filed by homeowners and businesses but just $1.7 billion in payouts have been approved, according to the insurance department.
Much of the federal money is being dispensed as grants and loans that businesses and individuals apply for from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Small Business Administration, among others. The typical household FEMA grant is a few thousand dollars.
Lawyers and community groups complain that FEMA has rejected about 60 percent of the 1.1 million household applications it has received. The agency said that figure was misleading because some rejected applicants had received loans from the Small Business Administration or aid from other agencies.
One reason for the rejections is that many Puerto Ricans cannot prove that they own a home. Only 65 percent of properties in the territory are officially registered with the government. The problem is especially acute in small cities and rural areas where there’s a custom of property owners not recording titles to homes.
In Loíza, an oceanfront community of 30,000, damage to homes and businesses was extensive. Many small businesses in the town were closed for months and may never reopen. Power was restored to most residences and businesses only in the first week of February.
Federal funds are only trickling into Loíza, and housing groups said one reason for the slowness was the small proportion of homes there, perhaps 20 percent, that are officially registered. In a makeshift FEMA center, agency workers allowed property owners to submit a written declaration that they owned their home. But advocates said some were still being rejected.
Nearby, stray horses ambled along the beach.
The halting pace of the economic recovery worries business leaders like Eli S. Sepúlveda Morell, an executive vice president at Banco Popular, Puerto Rico’s largest lender. His biggest concern is a shortage of qualified workers, especially in construction.
Mr. Sepúlveda Morell cautioned against excessive pessimism about Puerto Rico’s prospects. “But,” he said, “it’s too early to be extremely positive.”
|The Hidden Problems With Puerto Rico’s Water Supply|
In Dorado, Puerto Rico, the problems with the water began in the 1980s, when industrial solvents and dry cleaning compounds started to show up in local wells. Over the next three decades, when officials from Puerto Rico’s water authority and health department came to test the water, they kept finding contaminants. By the 1990s the problem had become troubling enough that wells began to be shut down. By the 2000s, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was searching for the source of the pollution.
Whatever was leaking these compounds into the groundwater, the federal agency couldn’t find it. But the contamination was only getting worse, and in April 2016 the EPA proposed putting the Dorada water system on the national list of Superfund sites—the most contaminated places in the country.
This past October, in one of the many headline-making incidents that followed Hurricane Maria, workers from a local utility opened one of those contaminated wells near Dorado and started distributing its water to desperate people who had no other option.
For months after the hurricane, without electricity, surrounded by damaged infrastructure, Puerto Ricans struggled to find clean water after sewage, gasoline, and more was swept up in floodwaters. But the island’s underlying geography, along with a history of poor investment in the water system, have made contamination a long-standing problem in the island territory. Researchers are trying now to understand and measure just how much the storm exacerbated these issues.
Underneath the northern coast of Puerto Rico lies a karst aquifer, a geologic formation of limestone where, over time, rain dissolves the rock to form tiny fractures, streaming rivulets, and giant caves. When rain falls, that maze of spaces collects and stores generous supplies of water. “It’s a unique geologic environment,” says Ingrid Padilla, a professor of water resources engineering at the University of Puerto Rico. “It’s highly complex and very difficult to simulate.”
Many other types of aquifers collect water that seeps through layers of the ground, which serve as a natural water treatment plant and filter contaminants out. But karst aquifers don’t have that same advantage. “The same exact characteristic that allowed water to flow through allows the contaminants in,” Padilla says. As reliable sources of water, karst aquifers attract human settlement. But even in the absence of a dramatic spill or clear sources of pollution, contaminants sneak into the groundwater as neighborhoods and industry grow.
This danger is compounded by Puerto Rico’s systems of pipes, pumping stations, and treatment plants, which has registered more drinking water violations than any other state or territory in the United States, as the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) reported in the spring of 2017. According to data analyzed by the environmental group, close to 70 percent of the island’s population gets its water from sources in violation of federal health standards for drinking water.
These violations are caused in part by the degradation of Puerto Rico’s water infrastructure, which is riddled with leaks that make the system vulnerable to further contamination. “There’s been a lot of disinvestment in water treatment plants and water pumping stations,” says Mekela Panditharatne, an NRDC lawyer who specializes in water.
The hurricane had a direct, dramatic impact on these existing problems. Across the island, taps stopped running and floodwaters rushed in, covering cars and houses. Padilla, the water engineering professor, remembers the water seeping in under her door being white and brown. “I was thinking, ‘That could be contaminated water,’ right in the middle of the hurricane,” she says.
Part of Padilla’s work on the ongoing groundwater contamination is to measure contaminants in the water people use, and to see if they have any connection to preterm births, a widespread problem in the territory. But when she and colleagues first thought to start sampling the water after the hurricane, they found roads blocked and cars commandeered by federal authorities. Even when they were able to make it to test sites, it was often impossible pump water from the usual sources. “There were limitations on what we were able to do,” she says. “We finally were able to start sampling after a month.”
Clearly the hurricane had an impact on the island’s water quality in the short term, but Padilla is interested in its far-reaching impacts as well. “The impact by chemicals is generally longer term,” she says. “You’re not going to see that the next day.” The influx of floodwater could also have diluted the contaminants that had been a problem in the past. Those levels could be quick to return.
Now that conditions on the islands are finally starting to improve—Padilla got electricity back only in the past couples of weeks, she says—researchers are starting to think about their next steps. Another group is planning to work with local nonprofits and schools to sample water supplies around four other Superfund sites, including a battery-recycling facility and a naval training center, contaminated by munitions tests, in order to identify new risks of exposure.
In the first months after the storm, even the EPA had trouble accessing all the Superfund sites on the island—24 in total—but as of February the agency says it has assessed every one and found no major spills associated with the storm. Returning to the status quo, though, is far from ideal. Even before the storm Puerto Rico needed more than $2 billion to fix up its water infrastructure, and now the island needs billions more just to rebuild.
|Las costas de la isla ya resienten el impacto de la fuerte marejada – El Nuevo Dia.com|
|Las costas de la isla ya resienten el impacto de la fuerte marejada|
Ya el agua azota con fuerza en Piñones y la carretera PR-187 -que lleva a Loíza- está cerrada, tras la fuerte marejada que afecta al suroeste, oeste y norte de la isla hoy, domingo, según el pronostico más reciente del Servicio Nacional de Meteorología (SNM).
“La boya de San Juan marcó (a las 3:00 p.m.) 13 pies con un periodo de 15 segundos, lo que genera un oleaje rompiente entre los 18 y 23 pies“, informó el meteorólogo del SNM, Carlos Anselmi, en entrevista con <a href=”http://endi.com” rel=”nofollow”>endi.com</a>.
Olas entre los 15 y 25 pies azotarán las costas de Puerto Rico, todas provocadas por una baja presión “muy fuerte” que está sobre el Atlántico central. Esto estará acompañado por vientos, de hasta 20 nudos, desde el noroeste.
Ante el “preocupante” panorama marítimo, Anselmi recomendó a las personas a “no exponer sus vidas” en las playas de la isla, pues “esto apenas comienza“. Y es que lo “peor” ocurrirá al caer la noche y mañana, lunes, temprano.
En respuesta a la situación, el SNM emitió advertencias de resecas fuertes y precaución para los operadores embarcaciones pequeñas. Esta última permanecerá vigente hasta las 6:00 p.m. de mañana. También registró un riego algo de corrientes marinas.
De igual modo, las condiciones del tiempo resentirán, aunque en menor escala, el impacto de la marejada.
“Tendremos cielos nublados y temperaturas agradables. Algunas lluvias afectarán al país, pero mayormente serán leves. En ocasiones, no obstante, acontecerán pequeños lapsos de aguaceros moderados“, explicó Anselmi.
El alcalde de Cataño, Félix Delgado, activó a la Oficina de Manejo de Emergencias Municipal (OMME) y demás componentes de seguridad del ayuntamiento. Todos realizan, desde las 6:00 a.m., rondas preventivas por el litoral costero y las zonas más vulnerables a desbordamientos en el pueblo.
La alcaldesa de San Juan, Carmen Yulín Cruz, también adoptó medidas preventivas. Entre ellas, por ejemplo, el cierre, mientras dure el evento, del balneario El Escambrón “para proteger la vida de bañistas y del personal que custodia la instalación recreativa”
Al momento, Cruz habilitó en la capital, desde las 3:00 p.m., dos localidades para que los residentes de La Perla y las comunidades del G-8 (Caño Martín Peña) puedan resguardarse, el Centro de Servicios Múltiples de Barrio Obrero 1 y la alcaldía, respectivamente.
Para prevenir incidentes, la líder municipal cerró varias calles en Ocean Park: Park Boulevard, Soldado Serranoy Guerrero Noble. Se recomienda a los ciudadanos utilizar el Expreso Baldorioty de Castro y la calle Loíza para llegar a su destino.
“Exhorto a las personas a permanecer alejados de la orilla de la playa y fuera del agua. No es momento para ir a ver las condiciones del mar y que pongan en riesgo la vida de las personas. Mantengan a los niños fuera de estas áreas”, recalcó Cruz a través de un comunicado de prensa.
En Loíza, la alcaldesa Julia Nazario desalojó a los vecinos de las Parcelas Suárez en el Barrio Medianía. Al momento, otras ocho comunidades permanecen bajo aviso.
|preventive police surveillance – Google Search|
Bloomberg–Feb 28, 2018
The police are legally empowered to do all kinds of surveillance without a warrant, provided they are operating in public space. … but powerful tool that enabled police to gather statistics of arrests and disturbance locations and use the aggregated data to deploy their investigative and preventive power.
The Globe and Mail
Radio Free Asia–Feb 27, 2018
Authorities in northwest China’s volatile Xinjiang region are expanding their monitoring of the region’s mostly Muslim Uyghurs, moving beyond surveillance cameras and facial-recognition systems to implement a “big data” system designed to predict offenses, an international rights group said in a report …
China using big data to detain people before crime is committed …
In-Depth–The Globe and Mail–Feb 27, 2018
The New Indian Express–Feb 28, 2018
Currently, the city police have 50 bikes, but only 20 are used daily for patrolling. The rest of the bikes will also be taken out for ‘Booster Patrol’, police said. The duty of ‘Booster Patrol’ squad has been divided into three – prevention, surveillance and detection. Prevention is the duty of uniformed officers.
Asharq Al-awsat English–Mar 3, 2018
The police are legally empowered to do all kinds of surveillance without a warrant, provided they are operating in public space. … but powerful tool that enabled police to gather statistics of arrests and disturbance locations and use the aggregated data to deploy their investigative and preventive power.
|drug lords Puerto Rico – Google Search|
Fox News–Mar 2, 2018
Fernando Soler, vice president of a police officers’ advocacy group, told The Associated Press, drug dealers are “taking advantage of all the situations occurring in Puerto Rico.” “There’s no power and they believe there’s a lack of police officers…,” he said. “Criminals are taking care of business before the …
Washington Post–Feb 21, 2018
“José’s work in Puerto Rico and Haiti shows how chefs can use their expertise and unique skills to enact profound change on a global scale,” Mitchell … at the Trump International Hotel in the summer of 2015 when the then-presidential candidate referred to Mexicans as drug dealers and rapists on the …
NEWS.com.au–Feb 5, 2018
The drug cartels of Venezuela and Mexico kidnap their rivals, torture them, execute them and record their actions as a warning. …. “Its long Caribbean coastline, sparsely populated jungles and plains and proximity to other Caribbean drug transit points like Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago, Honduras and …
GQ Magazine–Feb 28, 2018
Tepid reviews likely kept the film from taking off, despite Leguizamo’s earnest performance as Victor Rosa, a drug dealer with aims of going legit. … Of course, I had known about him before—like Lin-Manuel said, he was our man on the inside, a half-Puerto Rican, half-Colombian huckster with an entire …
|Crackdowns on drug dealers led to rise in violent crime, study finds|
Police crackdowns to cut the supply of illegal drugs by removing dealers and criminal overlords actually lead to rises in drug-related violence, gun crime and murder, according to an international study. A review of 20 years of research into drug enforcement has found that attempts to snuff out the trade in illegal substances have the opposite effect to that intended, by creating a power vacuum when drugs barons are imprisoned which is rapidly filled by competitors eager to fight each other for the newly-vacated territory.
Campaigners for the reform of drugs policy said the findings, which follow numerous studies showing that prohibition has failed to stop narcotics from becoming more plentiful, added to the pressure on governments to declare the “war” on the £200bn global illicit drugs industry over, and adopt a policy of controlled legalisation.
The study by the Canada-based International Centre for Science in Drug Policy (ICSDP) found that heavy-handed tactics, ranging from attempts by the American-sponsored Colombian armed forces to eradicate drug cartels to the arrest of dealers in Sydney, had led to increases in violence. Often, this violence is fuelled by criminals arming themselves to profit from price rises caused by seizures of drugs or the dismantling by police of dealing networks.
The assessment of 15 reports on the relationship between violence and drug enforcement, presented yesterday at an international conference in Liverpool, found that 87 per cent of studies reported that police seizures and arrests led directly to increased violence.
Dan Werb, co-author of the ICSDP document, said: “The convention has been that law-enforcement action to reduce the availability of drugs, thereby increasing drugs prices and decreasing supplies, also has the effect of reducing violence. Not only has prohibition been found to be ineffective with regard to price and supply; this study has also shown that it is accompanied by an increase in drug-related violence.
“Prohibition drives up the value of banned substances astronomically, creating lucrative markets and worldwide networks of organised crime. Unfortunately, the evidence suggests that any disruption of these markets through drug-law enforcement seems to have the perverse effect of creating more financial opportunities for organised crime groups, and gun violence often ensues.”
The study, which highlights the drug-related violence gripping Mexico as an example of the vicious circle fuelled by crackdowns, said researchers in Florida had recorded a five-fold increase in violence and property crime linked to drug arrests. Another study of six US cities found that attempts to shut down crack markets led to increased homicide rates in four of them.
A six-year Australian investigation into drug dealing in Sydney found that the arrest of dealers and subsequent disputes between rivals had contributed to murders and a substantial rise in non-fatal shootings with handguns.
Campaigners for a regulated market in drugs said the study bolstered the argument for legalising drugs and introducing a sliding scale of controls, ranging from membership of coffee-shop style premises for the sale of cannabis to licensed pharmacies selling cocaine.
A spokesman for the Transform Drug Policy Foundation said: “We have a government in pathological denial of the negative impact of a prohibition-based drugs culture. Which other global industry worth £200bn is left in the hands of organised criminals rather than being taxed and properly regulated?”
|Felipe Narváez Colón – Google Search|
El Vocero de Puerto Rico–Feb 9, 2018
Agentes del Task Force de los Alguaciles Federales de la Florida y del Negociado Federal de Investigaciones (FBI), arrestaron esta tarde en la ciudad de Orlando a Felipe Narváez Colón, líder de la organización de narcotraficantes conocida como Los Menores. Narváez Colón fue arrestado en el hotel La …
|Arrestan en Orlando a líder de ganga Los Menores | Ley y orden|
Agentes del Task Force de los Alguaciles Federales de la Florida y del Negociado Federal de Investigaciones (FBI), arrestaron esta tarde en la ciudad de Orlando a Felipe Narváez Colón, líder de la organización de narcotraficantes conocida como Los Menores.
Narváez Colón fue arrestado en el hotel La Quinta, número 7931, en Orlando Florida.
A este se le ocupó $5,700 en efectivo, una licencia de conducir de Puerto Rico con un nombre ficticio y una tarjeta de Seguro Social falsa.
El arrestado estaba acompañado por una fémina que fue dejada en libertad posteriormente.
Narváez Colón será extraditado próximamente.
La pandilla Los Menores fue desarticulada el pasado 9 de enero. Esta era integrada por un total de 32 personas y operaba en el residencial San Fernando, en Río Piedras, desde 2011.
De acuerdo al pliego acusatorio, la organización distribuía crack, heroína, cocaína, Percocet y Xanax a mil pies de una escuela pública. Trece de los acusados enfrentan cargos por posesión de armas de fuego en relación a un delito de trasiego de narcóticos.
El grupo enfrenta una confiscación de $10 millones.
Los acusados tenían diferentes roles: líderes, dueños de puntos de drogas, gatilleros, corredores, procesadores de drogas, vendedores y facilitadores.
Se alega que los acusados, en ocasiones, forzaban a residentes de los que se sospechaba cooperaban con las autoridades a abandonar sus apartamentos.
Asimismo, sacaban de sus viviendas a personas que no obedecían sus reglas y a residentes que se negaban a pagarles “una renta” a los líderes de la ganga.
El caso está a cargo de la fiscal, Vanessa Bonhomme.
|Satisfied Pesquera with the work of the Police|
The Secretary of the Department of Public Security (DSP), Hector Pesquera, and the interim commissioner of the Police Bureau, Henry Escalera, reported on Wednesday that during the month of January the anti-crime plan implemented with 209 arrests in the six police areas where the strategies of the plan are active.
In addition, a decrease of almost 20 percent was reported in Type I crimes throughout the Island in this same period.
This year, there have been 26 murders more than last year for the same date.
I have explained that in the 209 arrests are prominent criminals in criminal organizations, in the transfer of drugs, responsible for murders, robberies and other crimes.
I have explained that among the main leaders of drug trafficking, Edwin Jaffet Hernandez Vázquez, known by Jincho, of the Cuban organization have led to triggerman in the Gardenias residential complex in Bayamón and with federal probation, was arrested. Luis R. Reyes Jimenez, known by Popeye, also part of the organization of Cuba and co-administrator of the Alhambra residential in Bayamón and member of the gang “Los Menores.” Also from the group of “Los Menores”, Juan Gabriel Pérez Rivera was arrested and Héctor E. Martínez García, known by Richy Tamba, who, in addition to the nearly 70 arrests, that the police made along with the federal authorities, to members of the “The Minors” organization.
In San Juan, two of the leaders of Monte Hatillo, Joseph Marte Rodriguez, known by Matta and Lennyn Santiago Hernández, who had three arrest warrants, one federal and two state ones, were arrested. Another of those arrested was Joshua Campos, known as Chuky and Bebo, leader of the Vista Hermosa residential and a fugitive from federal authorities since 2014.
During the month of January there were 25 raids, of which 19 were positive. The Bureau of the Police seized a total of 58 firearms, 3 thousand 621 ammunition of different calibers, 110 magazines of ammunition, 2,012 bags of synthetic marijuana, 51 marijuana cigarettes, 18 marijuana plants, 11.5 pounds of marijuana, 223 flakes of synthetic marijuana, 3 thousand 097 crack capsules, 83 crack bags, 1,259 bags of cocaine, 15 cocaine flakes, 1 kilo of cocaine, 545 grams of cocaine, 601 heroin decks, 106 bags of heroin, 11 ounces of heroin and 1,768 controlled pills. Meanwhile, a total of $ 72,663 was spent in cash.
On the other hand, the total amount of the bonds imposed after finding cause for arrest adds up to a total of $ 26.7 million.
The results of the anti-crime plan presented correspond to the first month of the year 2018 implemented in the police areas of San Juan, Bayamón, Carolina, Caguas, Fajardo and Humacao.
Likewise, as part of the actions to attack crime on the Island, Type I crimes and crimes against property have been maintained with a constant decrease since last year. Until February 15 of this year, there is a significant reduction in Type I crimes with a minus 19.8 percent and at least 16 percent offenses against property compared to the same period last year.
Meanwhile, for the year 2017, Type I crimes were at least 9.1 percent, while crimes against property were at least 11.4 percent compared to 2016.
“The Bureau of the Police remains focused on the implementation of the strategies that are being implemented in the anti-crime plan to deal with crime. The committed and strategic work is focused on dismantling and removing from circulation the criminals that alter our communities. I am sure that we will continue consistently seeing results like the ones we are presenting today, “said Secretary Pesquera.
“We are satisfied with the work done, although I acknowledge that there is much more to be done.” These results are part of one of the strategies put into action in the anticrime plan, we have a good work pace and that must be highlighted so that citizens know. that we are not going to lower our guard against these criminals who threaten the tranquility of everyone, investigations continue, we will continue to refine our plans to fulfill our mission to protect lives and property, “said the Commissioner.
The anti-crime plan is an initiative that adds to the total daily effort made by the Police Bureau to enforce the law and order, as reported. It consists of the intensification of preventive surveillance and the specific development of criminal investigation to remove the leaders and components of criminal organizations from circulation. The priority areas are those that in some way have a higher incidence of crime and gradually extend the application of the strategies successfully implemented to the other areas to cover the entire Island.
|Los Menores Puerto Rico – Google Search|
Fox News–Mar 2, 2018
Last month, a federal grand jury indicted 104 people they claim are part of a drug cartel operating in Puerto Rico. The defendants – some as young as 14 years old – are accused of murder, drive-by shootings as well as intent to distribute drugs. The arrested belong to the Los Menores gang – or the “new …
Telemundo New York
Telemundo Puerto Rico–Feb 28, 2018
Luis R. Reyes Jiménez, conocido por Popeye, también parte de la organización de Cuba y coadministrador del residencial Alhambra de Bayamón y miembro de la ganga “Los Menores“. También del grupo de “Los Menores”, se arrestó a Juan Gabriel Pérez Rivera y a Héctor E. Martínez García, conocido …
Primera Hora–Mar 1, 2018
Los inspectores declararon la unidad fuera de servicio al no cumplir con los requisitos para poder operar. … a la Ley del Código Federal 7470 de Transporte Comercial, al trasladar un vehículo escolar con estudiantes a bordo a través de un río en el municipio de Morovis, en centro norte de Puerto Rico.
|Puerto Rico turns to DOJ amid escalating post-Maria drug-fueled violence|
Forensic worker moves a body at a San Juan crime scene in January, Puerto Rico’s deadliest month in recent years (Associated Press)
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Just a half hour from the charming cobblestone streets of Old San Juan loom the boxy World War II-era public housing projects, now home to thousands of residents trapped in a post-Hurricane Maria dystopian nightmare of crime and corruption.
Police appear powerless to stem a spiraling murder rate, donations rarely seem to reach the public and the government’s answer is most often to blame Washington. Families that a year ago enjoyed the trappings of upper middle class huddle indoors with scant food and sporadic power, while armed young men roam the streets enforcing a brutal code borne of social breakdown.
“We are scared, of course, but this is where we live – this is our home now,” said 72-year-old Sebastian Mercado, who moved with his wife Ana to the suburb of Trujillo Alto when their home was destroyed and they were unable to flee the island.
Mercado, a former mathematics tutor, says most of his friends have migrated to the mainland – Florida and New York – to be with family. Now, he spends his days longing for the not-so-distant time when he played dominoes with friends, danced and enjoyed Sunday night dinners of Arroz con gandules – Puerto Rican rice with pigeon peas and pork.
Fear dominates his nights.
“The boys walk around with big guns. The drugs. Too much violence,” he said, shaking his head.
The damage from Maria has led to job losses, foreclosures and an increase in murders, robberies and carjackings. The increasingly vicious nature of attacks adds to the climate of fear.
On Feb. 4, police officers arrested Adriel Carrasquillo-Carmona after he stole a 70-year-old man’s gray 1988 Oldsmobile Cutlass. Carrasquillo-Carmona bashed the septuagenarian in the head and body with a sledgehammer multiple times before reaching inside the man’s bloodied pockets to take his cell phone and $800.
Forensic worker takes notes at the scene where a man was found shot to death in San Juan (Associated Press)
News of the brutality terrifies law-abiding residents like the Mercados who are caught in the crosshairs of violent gangs battling it out daily for street supremacy.
Over the weekend, another five people were gunned down and another injured outside a bar in Comerio, 20 miles southwest of San Juan. The men killed were between 20 and 34 years old. A 17-year-old boy was wounded in the shootout.
Since the beginning of the year, there have been nearly 130 killings reported in the U.S. territory. A majority are thought to be drug-related.
“The fights that they have – the drug turf wars – they want to control drug points and turn complete areas (housing projects) into something very violent,” Rosa Emilla Rodriguez-Velez, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, told Fox News. “In one specific area, you have 10 to 15 drug points. That’s one owner – and gangs compete for that. They end up killing each other.”
Fernando Soler, vice president of a police officers’ advocacy group, told The Associated Press, drug dealers are “taking advantage of all the situations occurring in Puerto Rico.”
“There’s no power and they believe there’s a lack of police officers…,” he said. “Criminals are taking care of business before the hurricane.”
Last month, a federal grand jury indicted 104 people they claim are part of a drug cartel operating in Puerto Rico. The defendants – some as young as 14 years old – are accused of murder, drive-by shootings as well as intent to distribute drugs.
The arrested belong to the Los Menores gang – or the “new blood.”
“We are calling them ‘the minors’ because they are the ones who took over from some really big guys we arrested and convicted from the mid-to-late 2000s,” Rodriguez-Velez said.
US Attorney for Puerto Rico Rosa Emilla Rodriguez-Velez says the storm-driven chaos has made crime worse
At the time, the Department of Justice didn’t target minors for drug violations so those caught were either given a warning or at most a slap on the wrist.
“Ten years later, these were the kids that we left out there,” Jacqueline Novas-Debien, Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, told Fox News. “They grew up and took over.”
The vicious new breed of thugs started expanding their turf out of Puerto Rico’s housing projects by any means necessary.
Members allegedly plotted to smuggle and sell cocaine, heroin, crack and marijuana near Bayamon, a municipality located on the northern coastal valley. Los Menores routinely used force, violence and intimidation to gain control of most of the public housing projects in the area after federal authorities locked up leaders from nearby gangs.
The top dogs would instruct lower-level thugs to shoot and kill suspected rivals – the bloodier, the better.
The group would also pay crooked cops to look the other way or bribe them for information on informants or other law enforcement plans to infiltrate the gang.
Of the 104 criminals indicted, 22 were leaders or drug point owners; 9 were enforcers; 13 suppliers, 13 runners, 42 sellers and five drug processors.
While the Los Menores bust is no doubt impressive, authorities on the ground tell Fox News their resources are strained as new drug leaders eager to take advantage of the post-Maria conditions set up shop.
It’s gotten so bad that Florida Sens. Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson have asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions to get involved, and the Department of Justice has promised to help.
“(Attorney Genera Sessions) understands that for Puerto Rico to rebuild, people have to have safety and peace of mind,” DOJ spokesman Ian Prior told Fox News. “He recognizes that, to accomplish that, federal law enforcement has a special role to play. The people of Puerto Rico can be sure that Attorney General Sessions and the Department of Justice are working to help secure their communities so that they can recover and rebuild.”
That’s good news to Mercado.
“If it happens, we’ll be happy,” he said, gesturing to Ana. “Let’s see how long it will take.”
Relatives comfort each other as the body of a family member is removed at an early morning crime scene in San Juan (Associated Press)
|Pesquera insists on 45 days http://bit.ly/2tdiaGu pic.twitter.com/zDGsWIbjAv|
Pesquera insists on “45 days” http