Puerto Rico’s emergency manager, Carlos Acevedo, was fired on Saturday after a warehouse full of donated relief supplies was discovered.
The emergency aid is believed to be from when Hurricane Maria hit the island two years ago, according to Puerto Rico’s governor, Wanda Vázquez. The heads of Puerto Rico’s housing and family departments were fired the next day, on Jan. 19.
The governor has appointed Major General José J. Reyes, the adjutant general of the Puerto Rico National Guard, to replace Acevedo.
A video showing angry residents breaking into a warehouse was posted on Facebook on January 18.
Emergency supplies such as bottled water, baby diapers and other unused basic supplies were found in the warehouse.
The discovery was made by a tip-off to blogger Lorenzo Delgado, in the city of Ponce, one of the worst affected areas situated in the south of the island.
Who were the officials responsible?
Acevedo was the director of Puerto Rico’s Office of Emergency Management and has denied all allegations of misappropriation, claiming that the office has been actively distributing supplies.
Acevedo added that none of the affected residents have been refused any supplies in the warehouse, which stored food, diapers, baby formula and cots.
He also claimed that about 600 pallets of water were distributed in Puerto Rico when Hurricanes Dorian and Karen hit, and also during a drought that affected the island last year.
According to Acevedo, the goods which were found in the warehouse were that of expired items, including about 80 pallets of water.
“There have not been orders to seize or destroy those items at any point,” Acevedo said in a statement.
Vázquez Garced has instructed Secretary of State Elmer Roman to immediately investigate Acevedo’s allegations and to report the findings of the investigation within two days.
Puerto Rico accused the U.S. of failing to help
For months, Puerto Rico, as well as Democrats, had blasted United States President Donald Trump’s administration of not swiftly sending emergency aid.
Republicans had backed the aid package representing states recovering from hurricanes and flooding, like Florida, Texas, Georgia and Nebraska much quicker than it did Puerto Rico.
In Aug. 2019, Trump claimed to have sent billions of dollars to help Puerto Rico recover from the series of earthquakes and called the island’s administration corrupt for misusing funding under the Senate’s disaster-aid bill handed to the island in May.
“Puerto Rico is one of the most corrupt places on earth. Their political system is broken and their politicians are either Incompetent or Corrupt. Congress approved Billions of Dollars last time, more than anyplace else has ever gotten, and it is sent to Crooked Pols. No good!….” Trump tweeted.
Trump also accused Carmen Yulín Cruz, the mayor of the island’s capital, San Juan, of squandering the hurricane relief funds.
In the first two weeks of January, quakes, tremors and aftershocks have damaged hundreds of structures and forced thousands of people in the southern area of the island to flee their homes.
More than 8,000 people have been living in outdoor shelters in the cities of Yauco, Peñuelas, Guánica, Guayanilla and Ponce. Many residents are also sleeping in their cars for fear of a wall or roof that might collapse on them.
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