Peñuelas Mayor Willing to be Arrested at Landfill Protest
SAN JUAN – Peñuelas Mayor Walter Torres Maldonado was willing to be arrested for preventing the deposit of coal ash in the municipality’s landfill by Guayama-based Applied Energy Systems (AES).
“We will keep fighting for what we understand is right and indeed necessary to preserve the health of our citizens,” said Torres Maldonado, who visited Police Superintendent José Caldero to address the matter Tuesday.
Torres said he is determined to not allow “our townspeople to be poisoned,” and was willing to be arrested.
“We will be next to the people because we cannot allow the rules to be broken or that citizens who are asking that their rights be heard be arrested,” Torres Maldonado said.
The municipality of Peñuelas has taken the case to court, where it asked the reconsideration by Judge Aníbal Díaz Irizarry, who a week earlier declared null an ordinance prohibiting the deposit of coal ash or any derivative in the town. Calling the decision “highly suspicious,” the municipality has resorted to take the matter to the Court of Appeals.
Earlier Tuesday, after laying in the middle of the street to avoid the entry of trucks hauling coal ash to the landfill in Peñuelas, Jimmy Borrero, mayoral candidate for the Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP), was arrested by police.
Borrero did not resist arrest nor did Nelson Pagán, both of whom have camped out at the site for about four months to try to prevent violations of an ordinance that prohibits the deposit of coal ash.
Nearly 30 residents of various environmental organizations, led by the Comité Pro Buen Ambiente de Peñuelas, have been carrying out a demonstration at the entrance of the industrial landfill in the Tallaboa Saliente barrio on PR-385.
There were more than 100 police officers at the site to maintain order and security.
For environmental leader Manuel Díaz, the fact that the municipality of Peñuelas did not park trucks to close off the landfill’s entrance and prevent the deposit of ash “is an embarrassment.”
Díaz denounced that Borrero and Pagán were arrested before the dumptrucks had arrived.
The arrested were taken to the El Tuque sector’s police station.
Judge Eric Ronda del Toro, of the Ponce Supreme Court, had ordered barricades set up, establishing a perimeter to examine any truck suspected of hauling coal ash.