U.S. House committee listening session in San Juan is open to all, mayor says
Reacts to claims that attendance was being curbed
SAN JUAN – Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz said the Roberto Clemente Coliseum in San Juan has thousands of seats available for the public to attend the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources’ listening session Friday afternoon, which she called “a historic event, in which, for the first time, Puerto Ricans can speak directly to members of Congress.”
Reacting to statements by other lawmakers this week, Cruz said, “It is not correct that the entrance is being limited to 500 people. We have a total of 6,554 chairs and seating available in the Coliseum to welcome citizens who want to participate in this historic and important moment for the people of Puerto Rico. Some 600 chairs have been placed in the arena area of the Coliseum, and in the South Box, there are about 440 seats available. Alternatively, in the preference area on the second floor we have 2,000 seats and on the third floor some 2,400 more chairs. There is additional space in the back of the Coliseum and if this space is not enough, we will have a screen and chairs outside.”
The session will be live-streamed on the municipality of San Juan’s Facebook page, Cruz said, adding that the public’s questions in Spanish will be translated simultaneously for the U.S. representatives.
The event is part of the committee’s delegation visit “to learn more about the impacts of austerity and failed hurricane recovery,” the announcing release reads. In a video previewing the visit, committee Chairman Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) says the event will give the lawmakers “the opportunity to hear directly from the people of Puerto Rico about how to improve their quality of life and how best to address the fiscal austerity imposed by the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act of 2016.”
To attend the event, visit http://bit.ly/2TDpsiC.
“While signing up does not guarantee attendance, organizers will make every effort to accommodate as large a group as possible. Speakers will be acknowledged on a first-come, first- served basis,” the release explains.
Residents who are unable to attend can submit a message here: http://bit.ly/2TSRerO.
“This is a historic event, in which, for the first time, Puerto Ricans can speak directly to members of Congress,” Cruz said, while specifying that 60 people will have 3-minute turns each “to express themselves,” but that the delegation “reserves the right to increase” the number of turns.
“This is the day to come to express yourself in a dignified manner, with respect, but emphatically,” Cruz stressed.
The coliseum’s parking lot will open at noon and is free of cost. While the event registration page says the event begins at 4:30 p.m., Cruz said attendees may register at 4:45 p.m., when the doors open.
The Puerto Rican Independence Party is expected to hold a demonstration outside during the event to condemn the island’s Financial Oversight and Management Board and demand a decolonization process.