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Senate approves bill to eliminate Special Communities Office

By on January 29, 2017

SAN JUAN — The Senate approved last night the bill to eliminate the Special Communities Office to create a new entity that aims to speed up processes and government services to develop non-profits, or the third sector, and communities.

Senate Bill 6 was approved shortly after 11:00 p.m. with 21 votes in favor and 8 against, and was fully supported by independent Senator José Vargas Vidot, whose career has been primarily focused on community development.

Independent Senator José Vargas Vidot (Juan J. Rodríguez/CB)

Independent Senator José Vargas Vidot (Juan J. Rodríguez/CB)

“We have studied this bill, we have even called at midnight to take advantage of a magical but fleeting moment that would guarantee that communities won’t lose what they could have lost. Special Communities, although controversial in their beginnings, set the bases for a culture of participation. Regrettably, the project drowned in the pool of indifference, in the politicking agenda, in the succession of government, and its budget became the piggy bank for the unexpected. The so-called Special Communities were only a symbol,” said Vargas Vidot during his turn in favor of S.B. 6.

The independent senator requested fellow legislators to support the bill that creates the Office for Puerto Rico’s Socioeconomic & Community Development, thereby eliminating the Special Communities Office, which absolves the Special Communities program and obtains federal funds from other agencies related to community development.

“There is an open door here for new community possibilities. It is important for us to support this bill which, although is still lacking to elevate it to a historic piece, emerges from the right intention to open a path of hope and overcome damned poverty,” he declared.

See also:PDP denounces bill that would eliminate Special Communities Office

Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz assured that the bill aims for the designated special communities to have an opportunity for development, beyond a symbol.

Popular Democratic Party (PDP) Rossana López objected the bill by pointing out that its consideration was made during a hastened process, without convening community leaders to hear their input on the matter.

“I don’t know what is the fear to convene special communities so they can express themselves on this bill. If we talk about inclusion and participation we should have invited them,” she said.

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