Puerto Rico House Speaker to seek federal aid for Vieques
SAN JUAN – Puerto Rico House Speaker Carlos Méndez said Thursday that at the beginning of January he will request a special allocation of funds from the U.S. Congress to boost economic activity and the creation of jobs on the island-municipality of Vieques.
“We will work for Congress to pass legislation aimed at making the recommendations made in 2011 by the White House Task Force on initiatives related to Vieques, which established a concrete and viable plan to stimulate the economy of the Isla Nena through the creation of new renewable energy companies, the development of new businesses in the ecotourism sector, the implementation of initiatives to make solid-waste recycling a reality, improving healthcare options to citizens and the complete cleanup and conservation of the bioluminescent bay,” the speaker said in a news release.
In addition, he indicated he will soon convene a meeting between Vieques leaders and heads of agencies to outline a series of projects to be implemented quickly, such as establishing the short route between Vieques and Ceiba, which would shorten the crossing to near half an hour, and that Vieques patients get dialysis in clinics on the island.
Méndez said that one of his initiatives to improve health in Vieques is to find a public-private partnership for the administration of the Diagnostic and Treatment Center, the only hospital facility on the island-municipality. Likewise, he indicated that some 3,600 Viequenses are beneficiaries of the government’s medical coverage plan, Mi Salud.
Finally, the speaker emphasized the need to seek federal funds to restore the roads in Vieques, including resources for resurfacing and marking roads and building stormwater runoff.
The legislative leader also thanked Gov. Ricardo Rosselló for creating the Special Commission for the Recovery of Vieques, recognizing its importance in the socioeconomic development of Puerto Rico.