Puerto Rico Senate opens federal affairs office in DC
SAN JUAN – While the island suffered another massive blackout, Puerto Rico Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz inaugurated Wednesday in Washington, D.C., the Office of Federal, Social and Economic Affairs, which will represent “American citizens residing in Puerto Rico” in the U.S. capital.
Rivera Schatz took advantage of the press conference at the new office on North Capitol Street to criticize Promesa, the law that established the island’s fiscal oversight board, and said being present in Washington was necessary to watch closely over the interests of the island.
“We believe in the American dream and, as Don Luis Ferré said, we believe every son and daughter of Puerto Rico must have the opportunity to develop themselves to the best of their abilities. That is what we have come for and we will achieve our goal,” said the Senate leader alongside several local and stateside political figures.
Rivera Schatz said the office’s objective is to collaborate with Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González, with the Federal Affairs Administration of Puerto Rico (PRFAA) and with Gov. Ricardo Rosselló directly from the federal sphere.
“Also, to advocate for our mayors and for every Puerto Rican, and thus be present while we bring the message that American citizens residing in Puerto Rico have and deserve the same rights as those living in the 50 states,” he added.
Requests for information by Caribbean Business regarding how much the Senate will invest from its budget to run the office have not been answered.
“It is our duty as Puerto Ricans, together with the governor, the resident commissioner, mayors, legislators and the Equality Commission [Statehood Commission] to demand all the rights Puerto Rico deserves,” the Senate president said.
Several members of the legislature took part in the inauguration, including Senate New Progressive Party Majority Leader Carmelo Ríos. Also participating were former Govs. Luis Fortuño and Carlos Romero Barceló, as well as PRFAA Executive Director Carlos Mercader.
“As has been said, there’s a lot of work [to be done] here in the federal capital. What happened with Hurricane Maria exposed the need for our voice to be heard loudly here in Washington, where so many decisions that affect Puerto Ricans are made,” Fortuño said.