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Puerto Rico press briefings moved from Convention Center to governor’s office

By on October 27, 2017

SAN JUAN – The Post-Hurricane Maria days of large numbers of journalists alongside dozens of federal and state officials inside the Puerto Rico Convention Center, which has been serving as the government’s Emergency Operations Center (COE by Spanish initials), are numbered.

As of Sunday, the government will be holding its briefings on the aftermath of the historic storm at La Fortaleza, the governor’s official residence and office, the secretary of Public Affairs and Public Policy, Ramón Rosario, said Friday during his last press conference at the temporary emergency management base.

Gov. Ricardo Rosselló speaks during a press conference in Puerto RIco’s Convention Center on Oct. 9. (Jaime Rivera/CB)

The reason for the change is that La Fortaleza has already begun to operate normally, so Gov. Ricardo Rosselló and his advisers will work from the executive mansion, Chief of Staff William Villafañe told Caribbean Business.

“La Fortaleza is already operational, and to the extent that we can use the resources we usually use, we must then take advantage of them,” said Villafañe, ruling out that the move is intended to control the flow of information.

The official stressed that, despite the change, “the COE continues” as a joint command center of the federal and state government in the convention center’s second and third floors.

However, it is unclear what will become of the area designated for journalists on the first floor, from where various media, local and international, have been reporting since shortly after the storm given the telecommunications, internet and electricity limitations that remain on the island.

“I understand that all this transitions to how it is usually in Fortaleza,” Villafañe said about the matter.

The chief of staff explained that the move does not mean the emergency situation left by María 37 days ago is over.

“This [the end of the emergency period] will depend directly on the process of restoring utilities, electricity, water, telecommunications, among others. I cannot give you an exact date. I can say that the governor has set some goals, particularly for electricity service, which is fundamental for the rest of public and private operations in Puerto Rico, that by December 15 we can achieve that goal of 95% [power generation],” he said.

Meanwhile, La Fortaleza Press Secretary Yenniffer Álvarez said the briefings will continue to be daily “until we are out of the emergency.” At the moment, she said, no press conference is scheduled for Saturday, but it could be convened, depending on how the work flows.

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