Washington - After investigating conflicts of interest and the “disaster capitalism” after Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, journalist and activist Nomiki Konst thinks it is natural to aspire to be the New York City´s public advocate.
"It is in line with my background, which has been focused on pointing out where corruption is," Konst said in a telephone interview with El Nuevo Día this weekend, when speaking about her decision to seek the public advocate position.
Letitia James election as New York City attorney general has created a vacancy in the Big Apple´s public advocate position, which can be decided in a special citywide election that that Mayor Bill de Blasio will call by the end of February.
In addition to Konst, City Council Member Jumaane Williams and New York State Assemblyman Michael Blake have announced that they will also be candidates for a position to be elected at citywide level.
Although she has not confirmed it, sources assure that later this month, former New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito –from Puerto Rico- will also join the race.
The Office of the Public Advocate is entrusted with ensuring the services of municipal government agencies to its citizens.
"The position should be for a person who has freedom to face big interests and put pressure on the mayor and the City Council," Konst said.
Konst would like the Office of the Public Advocate to investigate the relationship between municipal government offices and the Puerto Rican public debt, and promote a conversation about the crisis on the island.
"Most of the big creditors are in this city. The municipal government will not solve the crisis, but we have a tool to control the industry," she said.
Konst spent seven months investigating and reporting on the Puerto Rican emergency, for media such as TYT network.
"The recovery of Puerto Rico is not only a duty of the United States, but it is a New York´s duty. It is a city with deep political and financial ties to the tragedy, the difficulties and Puerto Rican colonialism," Konst said.
She added that "the next New York city´s public advocate must investigate and hold the city industries and institutions accountable while advocating for the city government to take an active role in the recovery and struggle of Puerto Rico for its human rights."
The journalist wants to hold, in spring 2019, a political conference in Puerto Rico focused on the consequences of "disaster capitalism," which will bring together Puerto Rican legislators, economists, public policy experts and activists.
For Konst – who highlighted the support she has from Salvador Tío, former director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in New York –,it would be a contrast to the “SOMOS” conference, which usually gathers New York legislators and officials in Puerto Rico, as she considers that it is too tied to corporate interests.
"It's time for New York City to officially recognize that Puerto Rico is treated as a colony by the United States ... Since the debt crisis, long before the hurricane, we've seen Wall Street sharpening its fangs in a colony that lacks representation and financial support from the government. Some say that Puerto Rico is the sixth New York county. It's time for the New York City government to represent its own people who are directly connected to the crisis on the island," Konst said.
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