Raúl Grijalva, Chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources. (Teresa Canino )

Raúl Grijalva, Chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources left Puerto Rico yesterday, confident that he will have the collaboration of the Puerto Rican government to make amendments to PROMESA and accelerate the island’s recovery.

The Democratic representative from Arizona held separate meetings with Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced and Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz.

"With the commitment from both of us that there will be a different, clearer communication and collaboration on the items on the agenda, where we can work together. The past is the past," said the congressman, suggesting that after Ricardo Rossello Nevares´resignation, he sees a new environment for Puerto Rico.

"As I told the governor, she has a tremendous opportunity over these 18 months to take some actions, to have a broad view on some issues without political consequences, campaigns, nothing... and we want to make a commitment to help her," added Grijalva, referring to Vazquez Garced's expressions about not being interest to run for the 2020 elections.

He described the more than an hour-long meeting at La Fortaleza as a "professional, honest (meeting), where we received recommendations from her and her administration."

"The visit ended with a very positive tone," Grijalva noted.

As for the meeting with Rivera Schatz, the first one Grijalva held yesterday morning, he said they discussed issues about the recovery of the island after the devastation caused by Hurricane María.

Particularly, according to Grijalva, they discussed the need to include the mayors in this process.

“What participation municipalities will have in the recovery process. We include his (Rivera Schatz) recommendations,” Grijalva said in a separate interview with journalists at the end of the meeting with the governor.

Grijalva said that recovery work on the island is too slow. He arrived on the island last Thursday to participate in meetings with politicians and community leaders in Loíza, San Juan, Guayama, Adjuntas and Vieques.

When asked about the recent arrests of top FEMA officials on corruption charges, Grijalva indicated he was pleased with the investigation.

He said he thought it was "important," since now U.S. President Donald Trump's accusations about alleged corruption with federal funds in the Puerto Rican government seem groundless.

With his visit to Puerto Rico, Grijalva also wanted to review coastal erosion problems reported in many points on the island and get input on the amendments to Promesa he proposes.

Grijalva anticipated that he will file amendments to PROMESA in October, this act gave life to the Oversight Board. Among other things, Grijalva will propose to appoint an oversight body, define essential services, demand an audit to the debt, more transparency and federal funding for the Board’s operation.

“We have a hearing on October 22,” Grijalva said.


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