Arrival of Greenpeace provisions for Puerto Rico delayed by Jones Act
SAN JUAN – Although a Greenpeace ship arrived Sunday in Puerto Rico with support staff, the supplies the conservation organization has collected along with other environmental entities and the Puerto Rican diaspora will have to wait several weeks to reach the island.
The Arctic Summer is a foreign vessel and is therefore not allowed to ship cargo to a U.S. jurisdiction under the Jones Act. The supplies will therefore be shipped by a U.S.-flagged and -manned ship that also belongs to Greenpeace.
The organization called for the elimination of the Jones Act during a press conference about the efforts made by the Our Power PR campaign, which is supported by 25 U.S. entities that collect supplies and raise awareness stateside about the island’s situation in the aftermath of two major hurricanes.
The campaign also advocates for “a fair transition,” defined as the empowering of communities, promoting renewable energy and sustainability, and changes to how natural resources are cared for, among other issues.
Much of the focus of these organizations, including Organización Boricuá and Climate Justice Alliance (CJA), is to encourage the re-establishment of local agriculture. Government figures estimate that Hurricane María destroyed 80% of the island’s agriculture.
Part of the cargo in Greenpeace’s second ship consists of tools for the farming sector. Included in the supplies inside the cargo containers are filters to purify water as well as solar batteries.
Once on the island, supplies will be administered by the Boricuá Organization, which focuses on organic farming.
Boricuá representative José Vázquez characterized as “shameful” that the organization with international recognition, “which has been working hard with Puerto Ricans of the diaspora who want to help but cannot because we have the Jones Act that prevents a ship from coming here with a lot of resources to support the people.”
For Vázquez, the restrictions set by the 1920 law go beyond delaying the Greenpeace supplies.
“Due to the Jones Act, we in Puerto Rico remain very vulnerable not only to climate change, but also to our food and agriculture system because the United States regulates what enters and leaves our archipelago,” he said.
Greenpeace representative Hannah Strange echoed Vázquez’s words but said the issue will not stop the organization’s efforts.
“We would have liked to have been able to fill this ship with provisions that support this effort for Puerto Rico’s fair recovery. The Jones Act prevented us from doing it but it cannot stop the solidarity we have with Puerto Ricans.”