The day before Thanksgiving, Maria de Lourdes Santiago Negrón was arrested in Peñuelas, PR, for opposing the dumping of coal ash in the Peñuelas Valley Landfill.
The Senator was opposing AES, a Virginia-based corporation, which has dumped over two million tons of this ash in Puerto Rico. But with her arrest, Maria de Lourdes also showed something more: that the independence movement is a vital force in Puerto Rico.
AES and Coal Ash
AES is an energy company. It builds, owns and operates electrical power plants.
It is also highly profitable: a Fortune 200 company which, in 2015, reported $14.96 billion in revenues and $36.8 billion in net assets.
Unfortunately, in generating its electricity, AES also generates coal ash. This coal ash is radioactive, contains dangerous levels of arsenic, and has caused an epidemic of birth defects in the Dominican Republic.
And now, two million tons of this ash have been dumped on the island of Puerto Rico.
Coal ash in the Caribbean
In April of this year, in the Puerto Rico Senate, Sen. Maria de Lourdes Santiago urged her colleagues to vote against coal ash dumping by AES in Puerto Rico.
The entire island is affected by AES coal ash.
Peñuelas is not alone in this… over 350,000 tons of coal ash were dumped in Humacao alone, from 2014 to 2015.
Over 40 municipalities in Puerto Rico have prohibited the use of coal ash in landfills and construction sites. Residents of Humacao, Arroyo, Yabucoa, Patillas and Maunabo have testified at Puerto Rico Senate hearings, about the spillage of coal ash from hundreds of AES trucks.
In the Dominican Republic, AES paid $6 million in 2007, to settle a coal ash dumping lawsuit. Now in 2016, AES settled the first of several lawsuits – all of which link AES coal ash to birth defects and early death of Dominican children.
In 2014, the EPA tightened regulations regarding coal ash disposal. But this did not stop AEA from dumping it throughout the island of Puerto Rico…two million tons of it.
That is 4 billion pounds of radioactive coal ash…over 1,000 pounds per every man, woman and child in Puerto Rico.
A Conscience in Puerto Rico
In this context, the arrest of Maria de Lourdes assumes a much larger significance.
With a miniscule budget, and FBI agents at every polling site, the Independence Party (PIP) received a fraction of the popular vote in the November 8 elections. But the PIP continues to express the conscience of Puerto Rico.
The PPD and PNP have abandoned any pretense of conscience. In fact, they are not even two parties. They are one party…the PLP…the Party of Lining their Pockets.
Maria de Lourdes Santiago does not line her pockets. She does not live in the governor’s mansion…but she lives in the heart of every Puerto Rican. She defends her island, and is willing to go to jail for it.
Thanks to her…
And a brave people, who will struggle for their freedom…
The independence movement is alive and well in Puerto Rico.
It is only a matter of time.
For a history of the War Against All Puerto Ricans, read the book…
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