Earthquake-hit Puerto Rico investigates unused emergency supplies
MIAMI, – Protests broke out in earthquake-hit Puerto Rico on Monday as a judicial investigation was opened into the weekend discovery of unused emergency supplies leftover from the devastating Hurricane Maria.
On Saturday, a Facebook user posted a live video showing a warehouse in the southern city of Ponce, filled with undistributed emergency supplies such as tents, diapers, baby formula, radios, batteries and thousands of bottles of water, which appeared to have expired.
Some of the aid was apparently intended for victims of Hurricane Maria, which ravaged the island in September 2017, killing some 3,000 people.
“According to the findings that suggest inaction or omissions in the management of the warehouse and supplies by some officials,” the government referred the investigation to the Justice Department, Governor Wanda Vazquez Garced said in a statement.
She also fired Carlos Acevedo, the head of the Puerto Rico Emergency Management Agency, and housing secretary Fernando Gil Ensenat in an immediate response to the video.
Some 5,000 people are living in tents after more than 1,000 earthquake tremors have rattled the US territory since December.
Many of those people went to the warehouse after the video was posted and raided the supplies stored there.
Dozens of protesters also took to the streets of the capital San Juan Monday against Vazquez Garced, in a scene reminiscent of July demonstrations demanding the resignation of then-governor Ricardo Rossello.
Rossello was forced to step down after the release of text chats in which he and 11 other male administration members made fun of Hurricane Maria victims.
They also made homophobic jokes, including about San Juan native pop star Ricky Martin.
Martin posted on Instagram Monday that he intends to travel to the island to respond to the new situation.
“What happened in a warehouse in Ponce, Puerto Rico is an act of insensitivity, mistreatment and unparalleled irresponsibility,” he wrote in Spanish.