Puerto Rico fires 2 officials over mismanagement of aid
Secretaries of family services, housing put their own interests ahead of people's needs, says governor
Puerto Rico's Governor Wanda Vazquez has announced the dismissal of Family Services Secretary Glorimar Andujar and Housing Secretary Fernando Gil-Ensenat over mismanagement of emergency supplies.
The decision came on Sunday, a day after a warehouse was found in southern coastal city Ponce -- where supplies remained stored instead of distributed among the victims -- according to the local daily El Nuevo Dia on Monday.
Speaking in a press conference, Vazquez stressed that her instruction "has always been to provide aid, without discrimination and in a fast manner."
"There are some who have put their priorities first, neither with me, nor with the people of Puerto Rico," she added.
With the expulsion of Andujar and Gil-Ensenat, the number of dismissed senior government officials rose to three over 24 hours. On Saturday, Carlos Acevedo, the commissioner of the Bureau of Emergency Management and Disaster Management, was fired for being in charge of the warehouse that was discovered by citizens.
It is reported that the warehouse was filled with supplies, including bottled water, food, baby food, sheets, batteries and other necessities. Given their expiration dates, the supplies have probably been in the warehouse since Hurricane Maria, which hit the island two years ago.
"Under my administration, nobody can come to me with lies. I have a commitment [to the people of Puerto Rico]. Public officials serving with me should have the same commitment," Vazquez said.
She said Secretary of State Elmer Roman will coordinate emergency aid until the dismissed secretaries are replaced, and Commander of the Puerto Rico National Guard Jose Reyes will replace Acevedo.
An investigation began on the allegations that the supplies were mismanaged.
The governor also said the authorities began an inventory of the items contained in the Ponce warehouse, to distribute them to citizens most affected by the last week's earthquakes.
Puerto Rico has a special political status as an unincorporated territory of the U.S., which comes with certain benefits and restrictions. It is neither a sovereign nation nor an American state.