[News] Puerto Rico’s Power Union Denounces Governor’s Decision to “Sell the Assets” of the Public Power Utility (PREPA)

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Mon Jan 29 11:53:44 EST 2018


  Puerto Rico’s Power Union Denounces Governor’s Decision to “Sell the
  Assets” of the Public Power Utility (PREPA)



*San Juan, Puerto Rico, January 23rd, 2018*

The Union of Workers of the Electric and Irrigation Industry (UTIER) 
denounces Governor Ricardo Rossellá’s announcement to privatize the 
Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA). The announcement 
demonstrates the insensitivity of this government and leaves clear that 
the welfare of the people is not among the interests of the current 

UTIER has been consistent in denouncing the privatization plans of 
various government administrations and also the recent intentional 
slowness in the process of restoring the electrical system.

The Governor is taking advantage of the pain of thousands of people who 
are currently without electric power. Given the insensitivity of 
Governor Ricardo Rosellá of announcing the privatization of PREPA in the 
midst of the suffering of almost half a million Puerto Ricans who still 
do not have electricity, UTIER once again raises its voice in favor of 
the people. We have tried through our brigades to restore electric power 
as soon as possible, despite all the obstacles that the government, the 
Engineers brigade, the Board of Fiscal Control, and the upper management 
of PREPA have erected to try to prevent us achieving that goal.

For decades we have warned how various administrations have undermined 
workers and intentionally damaged the infrastructure of PREPA. This was 
intended to provoke the people’s discontent with the service in order to 
privatize our first industry, “the jewel in the crown”, to strip us—the 
people—of what is ours. “Because PREPA is a public good that belongs to 
the people and not to the politicians,” said the president of the UTIER, 
Angel Figueroa Jaramillo.

Figueroa Jaramillo explained how, since the 1970s, governments of the 
two main parties have tried to privatize PREPA. In each of these 
attempts, UTIER has reacted immediately, warning the people what this 
would mean for the country.

“We asked, how come it was possible that, facing so much devastation 
left by the hurricanes, that we would prioritize hiring a company such 
as Whitefish, which did not have the staff or experience to handle an 
emergency like the one we had gone through? Then we met the endless 
irregularities in the awarding of the contract that was signed with 
Whitefish and the powerful political links it has with the current US 
administration. Everything we said was proven to be correct and has been 
so in every complaint we have made over decades”, said Figueroa Jaramillo.

The President of UTIER insisted, “The position of UTIER is that 
electricity is a human right and not a commodity. That is what our 
people have realized after the ravages of hurricanes Irma and Maria, 
after having run out of electricity and suffering so many hardships and 
the loss of family members, either because they have died or had to 
leave the country. That is why we strongly oppose privatization in any 
of its expressions, whether through the transfer of assets or the 
transfer of management to private companies. We ask the people the 
following question so that they think clearly about it: If PREPA was not 
profitable and able to generate profits, would there be a company that 
wanted to acquire it?”

The president of the UTIER urged people to also remember the 
declarations of the Board of Fiscal Control (JCF) a year ago in which it 
presented the privatization of PREPA as one of its goals. “We cannot 
leave the heritage that belongs to us–-the people—in private hands. And 
one of them is PREPA. Because if at some point we face another 
atmospheric phenomenon such as the ones to which we are exposed every 
year during hurricane season, we already know how the private generators 
AES and Ecoelectrica will react: turning off their machinery in order 
not to lose their investment. That’s what they did on this occasion. 
They are not worried about the suffering of the people. That situation 
cannot be repeated and if PREPA is privatized, that is what’s in store 
for us. Furthermore, we must not be deceived: privatization increases 
the electric bill and makes us more vulnerable as the people. Let’s not 
allow the main industry for the development of our country to be stolen 
from us. Let’s not wait for it to happen”, added Figueroa Jaramillo.


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