Rosanna Torres

Washington - The Center for a New Economy (CNE) appointed Rosanna Torres as director of its office in Washington at a moment when they anticipate a long recovery process for the Island.

Torres, who was legislative and public policy adviser to Democratic Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez (New York), will start at the CNE on August 13.

Between 2015 and 2017, Torres also worked in the Office of State and Local Finance of the US Treasury Department, where she got close to the Puerto Rican fiscal crisis, public debt issues and the PROMESA debate.

"We want to continue developing and strengthening the Washington office," said Miguel Soto Class, CNE president, when he announced the appointment after working for three consecutive years, during the months of June and July from Washington, where the study group had a virtual office.

The CNE will also search for a permanent office in Washington and additional personnel.

Soto Class considers that they have managed to establish themselves as a source of great credibility, both among Republicans and Democrats.

Much of that work  depended on trips made Sergio Marxuach, CNE Policy Director and General Counsel.

But, Soto Class anticipates a more proactive stage of the CNE in Washington behind issues that focus on  the validity of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) on the island.

In addition, they want the office to become a center for everything that “has to do with Puerto Rico," including conferences and cultural events.

"We would like to create a coalition on the EITC," among other things, said Soto Class, noting that "it's up to Rossana to take the CNE to the next stage."

The Puerto Rican reconstruction process, after the devastation left by Hurricane Maria, is a priority issue for the CNE as well as promoting “the proper privatization process” of  the Electric Power Authority (PREPA)  assets. 

As for the reconstruction, Soto Class said that -after some meetings he had in the last weeks-he is more convinced than ever that "this process will be good in the long term."

During those meetings, federal authorities consistently brought the issue  of the lack of confidence in the government of Puerto Rico to manage public funds, that Soto Class considers may have some justification.

However, Soto Class thinks that, sometimes, they are based on unjust and colonialist visions.

"It's something that keeps emerging everywhere. Our government, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, we all must take this seriously. We must try to better position Puerto Rico to dispel doubts. Some are founded but others are excuses or are not deserved," said Soto Class.

Regarding PREPA´s future and the plans to rebuild the power grid, he said that, although there is interest from Congress in the matter, it is not clear how the federal government can intervene beyond  pressing on the use of future allocations.

"They can intervene in many ways, including using allocations as  pressure. What is not clear to me is whether they finally would dare to carry out such an openly controversial and colonial intervention," he said.

In that sense, he said that "beyond how unreasonable it would be to try to federalize a Puerto Rican public corporation," he is concerned about the fact "that corporate  political interests or Wall Street use that openness to favor, promote and benefit business over the interests and / or needs of Puerto Ricans."

He said that, for the moment, it is obvious that criticisms point to emphasize that PREPA´s politicization "has reached a climax". He noted that the CNE is analyzing the debt restructuring preliminary agreement between the Oversight Board,, in charge of Puerto Rican public finances, and unsecured creditors.

Black Start

In addition, for 2019,, the CNE is planning an important conference under the name "Black Start", as the process to reestablish a power grid that has fallen is known, with the premise that "Puerto Rico needs to start from zero on the energy issue, and look at this deeply with a vision of future."

The conference will be sponsored by the Colibrí Foundation, a new philanthropic  entity of a diaspora family, and the "Environmental Defense Fund", recognized for its work in favor of the environment and climate change.

Soto Class also stressed that they are entrusted to follow up the "ReImagina a Puerto Rico" report of the Resilient Puerto Rico Advisory Commission, with the goal of implementing some of the 93 recommendations presented on the island´s reconstruction and determining "how to finance some of them."

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