Having no electric power affects 750 businesses in Old San Juan
Old San Juan, PUERTO RICO – “We want light for Old San Juan!”
With that chanted demand, business owners and employees of the capital city and from other parts of the island took to the streets to protest the alleged inaction by the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (Prepa) to re-establish electric power to the municipality that epitomizes Puerto Rico’s tourism sector.
With the lack of electricity 42 days after the passing of Hurricane María, about 10,000 jobs are at risk in San Juan, according to data released Wednesday by the Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce (CofC).
Protesters in Viejo San Juan displayed signs saying the prolonged state of darkness that affects 750 businesses and 1,500 public offices.
“After six weeks without electricity service and no official information, we demand that the Electric Power Authority say publicly when the repairs in Old San Juan will begin,” read the written statement distributed during the demonstration in the walled city’s Plaza Colón.
“There are more than 5,000 public employees throughout the area—municipal, state and federal workers. We are here, along with more than 5,000 employees from the private sector, who come from all over Puerto Rico,” the statement reads. “And Viejo San Juan depends on a huge amount of indirect jobs.”
For her part, CofC President Alicia Lamboy announced, in writing, that her organization had joined with the demonstration’s cause.
“We are making a genuine appeal to be informed about when it is expected this center for tourism and visitor businesses will be energized. We demand to be informed of the plan to repower Old San Juan.”
“At this moment, it is urgent to focus on the execution of those measures that will prevent the permanent collapse of commercial activity in Old San Juan,” the CofC president said.
Meanwhile, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz Soto paused her work schedule to demand that the public entity reconnect Old San Juan to electricity as soon as possible, and was emphatic about the urgency for the tourism zone to return to normality, an industry that is experiencing a notable slowdown in economic activity.
The mayor is now in the U.S. capital participating with the Democratic Caucus of the U.S. House of Representatives. Cruz Soto was to testify before Congress’ Homeland Security Committee about the difficulties created in the storm’s aftermath, but at the last minute, the Republican majority canceled her appointment.
El Viejo San Juan es esencial para recuperar el turismo en Puerto Rico. La falta de energía allí es falta de actividad económica.
— Carmen Yulín Cruz (@CarmenYulinCruz) November 1, 2017
According to the status.pr website, electric power generation stands at 37.9%, despite the existence of a major failure in the nation’s north-south powerlines. This figure does not reflect the number of customers who have functioning Prepa service.