Bernier willing to fight interests affecting local production
SAN JUAN—The president of the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) and candidate for governor, David Bernier, announced Wednesday that, if elected, he would implement a project to give preference to local produce, especially agricultural production, and says he would fight the “big interests” who oppose any public policy that seeks to reduce dependence on imports.
In this manner, he defended the pilot project developed by the Department of Agriculture to plant rice on the island, an initiative that was harshly criticized by the political opposition who labeled it the “world’s most expensive rice.”
“We will implement a project of preference to local products, not only in the public sector, but also the private sector, through decreed incentives, has to establish a protocol of first option for local products. The most effective incentive we can give farmers is to ensure the acquisition of their harvest so they can plan their planting accordingly,” said Bernier during a press conference at the PDP headquarters in San Juan’s Puerta de Tierra sector, the first in which he was accompanied by his wife, TV hostess Alexandra Fuentes.
Offering paella and “arroz con dulce” cooked with Puerto Rican rice, which he called “Bernier rice” as a spin on what political opponents said some days ago, the gubernatorial candidate insisted that such a “tough policy” to support local products will bring about tensions with so-called great interests, saying “they would not like local agricultural production [to increase] because they import similar products.”
“Well, I have no problem in facing them, even though they find political spokesmen [on the other side of the aisle]. They will always find an opponent in yours truly, “he said, after joking with the phrase “arroz que Bernier hay,” a play on a popular Puerto Rican refrain.
The former secretary of state denied that the Puerto Rican rice is the most expensive, and said that, on the contrary, it is the best-selling of its kind in the Econo supermarket chain. Although he said that the price is currently about $1.50 on sale, Secretary of Agriculture Myrna Comas said the recommended price is $2.90.
“Eight bucks a pound, please. How can Econo sell it to a $ 1.48? […] It is not a project of the State Department. It is a project of the Department of Agriculture, and I congratulate the secretary, and if it were mine, I would say it because I have no problems. I believe in this project. [The attack] is a Machiavellian [scheme] to see what damage is done and entertain people. But this country knows more than that,” he said.