The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) is the government owned electric power company of Puerto Rico. They are, in theory, supposed to be leading the effort to rebuild Puerto Rico’s ruined electric power grid. Which is why the news that
by FEMA and the US Army Corps of Engineers they were caught stealing, hiding, and hoarding supplies is so shocking:
Puerto Rico’s governor has ordered an investigation of materials discovered in a warehouse belonging to the U.S. territory’s electric authority that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said are critical to restoring power following September’s Hurricane Maria.
Governor Ricardo Rossello said in a statement on Thursday he is ordering the island’s Department of Justice to investigate whether “rules were violated and/or crimes were committed against the public interest” in the procurement and administration of the materials.
It is the latest headache for Puerto Rico over the response by its power authority, known as PREPA, to the September storm, which decimated the U.S. territory’s outdated electric grid so forcefully that 40 percent of its 3.4 million residents remain without power.
The Army Corps, which is in charge of grid repairs in Puerto Rico, on Saturday discovered a stock of transformers, splices and other materials in a warehouse at PREPA’s Palo Seco plant. The Army Corps said the materials were not being used, leading to some delays in power resurgence.
In bankruptcy with some $9 billion of debt, PREPA has long been plagued by a shrinking workforce and sorely outdated infrastructure.
What Happened in Puerto Rico?
The Reuters article grossly undersells what actually happened. For weeks, Puerto Rico, with assistance from the US government, has been struggling to rebuild itself.
Many news stories have said the power is not going to really be fully restored until April or May.
There has been a steady flow of complaints for weeks that
critical equipment and materials aren’t reaching those who need them.
The lack of materials was severe enough that contractors were sitting around with nothing to do, many of them complaining that PREPA was making their job difficult. Various mayors and municipal governments, frustrated by the delays in receiving the needed construction materials, had turned to the open market and
begun buying materials with what limited funds they had.
Somehow, the US Army Corps of Engineers and FEMA discovered what was happening to their supplies and went to the warehouse where they were being kept with an armed security detail.
What followed was described as a “tense standoff.” No further details of the standoff were given, such as whether it was merely arguing between officials or whether a physical or even armed confrontation was at risk of developing.
In my opinion,
the fact that US government agents were forced to confront the local Puerto Rico power company with armed personnel speaks volumes.
Inside the warehouse was a gigantic stockpile of construction materials, including sleeves of full-tension steel, a critical component for power lines. FEMA and the US Army Corps of Engineers have not finished cataloging all of the stolen goods yet. PREPA is issuing vague denials and says they have done nothing wrong in hoarding supplies.
Why Was PREPA Hoarding Supplies?
There are a lot of questions that aren’t being answered. The biggest one is why the materials were being stolen in the first place. Were the workers planning to sell the goods on the black market or demand bribes to hand them out?
Was someone in PREPA trying to embarrass the Puerto Rican governor, Ricardo Rossello?
Or could the order to steal the supplies have come from government officials who hoped to enhance the suffering of their own people to help the US democrats damage Trump?
To keep the above in context, this also isn’t the first time
rumors of Puerto Rican public officials hoarding and stealing supplies have emerged and the Puerto Rican governor Rossello has been campaigning hard against Trump and the Republicans in Florida.
These are really important questions that need to be answered, but I have serious doubts our corrupt, bumbling media will be the ones to answer them, particularly if this was a Democrat Party operation to try to cause Trump problems at the expense of the Puerto Rican people.