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Protesters carry to Old San Juan the items damaged by blackouts and changes in voltage

With the box of what was her television, Raquel Quiñones, a resident of Aguadilla, participated this Thursday in the demonstration against the public-private partnership (PPP) between the government and LUMA Energy.

“I decided to come to the demonstration because if I am suffering damage through LUMA and I don’t express myself, I don’t make myself felt, (then) I have no right to protest, to say anything. If I protest and stand in solidarity with the people, I can demand, “said Quiñones, who explained that he lost the television that his son gave him a year ago because of” low power “, as certified by a technician .

The 67-year-old woman, like dozens of protesters, went this afternoon to the vicinity of La Fortaleza to demand the cancellation of the contract. Faced with heavy police surveillance, which closed the streets immediately around the executive mansion, the protesters decided to concentrate on the main square. There they deposited fans, televisions, computer monitors, among other items, which they said were damaged by blackouts or constant changes in electricity voltage.

“In Aguadilla that (electricity service interruptions) happen practically every day. You can go for hours, a whole day. It all depends,” added the 62-year-old woman.

Before the demonstration began, scheduled for 5:00 pm, Governor Pedro Pierluisi had warned that placing “waste” in the street was illegal. In addition, he said that the protesters were assisted by their right to express themselves, but asked for respect for the Police and that the laws be followed.

Asked what would happen to LUMA Energy’s supplemental contract that expires on November 30, Pierluisi said that date has not yet arrived.

“I am very aware of how the number of subscribers without electricity is. What I want is the stable network,” she said.

A demonstrator shows a sign during the protest this Thursday in Old San Juan.
A demonstrator shows a sign during the protest this Thursday in Old San Juan. (David Villafane/Staff)

Angry and angry people

“I don’t want to talk,” replied Clarissa Ramos, a resident of Caguas, when The new day asked him what should happen to the LUMA Energy contract.

His participation in the demonstration was motivated by the rise in the bill he has had in recent months, despite the failures with the service offered by LUMA Energy.

“I paid between $50 and $60 (a month). The last one came to me for $98. I live alone. I’m retired. I can’t”, she lamented as she said that she doesn’t have appliances that cause extreme electricity costs such as a dryer, water heater and electric stove.

“What I see on the bill is that they are charging me for fuel. My consumption has not increased. That contract must be canceled, ”demanded the woman.

The same was claimed by José Hernández, who even had a t-shirt with the image of the governor and the phrase “Pierluisi resigns.”

“For me, Puerto Rico never had a governor after we removed Ricky (Rosselló from the governorship). Pierluisi sneaked into La Fortaleza and what he has done is politicize, ”said the man carrying a pedestal fan.

“In the last blackout, my fan and a television were damaged. They (the government) have had a year and a half to prove that they have good faith with the people and so far they have not proven it. The people are already tired,” Hernández added.

He attributed to a “political strategy” the governor’s expressions that he kept the company LUMA Energy on “probation.”

The actor Teófilo Torres was present at the demonstration with his character of Pateco, who, between sentences, questioned the actions of politicians. There was no shortage of slogans to the rhythm of batucada and banners calling for the cancellation of the contract with LUMA Energy and/or the resignation of the governor.

José Rodríguez, from Río Piedras, said he did not believe in the governor. He explained that he attended the demonstration because in the middle of the hurricane season he fears that with the energy service in charge of LUMA Energy, “the country will be left in total darkness.”

“I, as an individual, can survive. But I have to think about the large number of bedridden, which exceeds 30,000. I have to think about what happened after Hurricane María and the colleagues from UTIER, from Electric Power were the ones who built the entire system with their experience, ”he said.

He doubted that in the face of a major hurricane, LUMA Energy could attend to an emergency. “They left part of the Medical Center without power,” she recalled about the recent event that kept the University Hospital in the dark.

Also, carrying a damaged television, Reynaldo Alvarado Rivera, a retired teacher from Naranjito, questioned the governor’s actions towards LUMA Energy.

“The Governor of Puerto Rico, Pedro Pierluisi, is LUMA’s lawyer because with all the mess that LUMA has caused, he continues to defend it and does not want to remove them, so if he does not want to remove them, we are going to remove Pierluisi,” sentenced.

Immediately, he maintained that the people’s annoyance is not only against the contract with LUMA, but also with the poor state of public schools, the highways, the increases in electricity, expensive gasoline and a poor economy.

“What are they looking for? Strangle this country. And we are already tired. We are going to do whatever it takes to defend ourselves from this outrage,” she stressed.

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