The former president of the United States, Bill Clinton, warned today in Puerto Rico that the island must be prepared to spend the next one overcoming what has happened through Hurricane Maria and rebuilding “a future that makes you less vulnerable to a new cyclone”, At the same time, he recommended focusing on the opportunities that will now arise.
“I think it’s a terrible problem but at the same time it’s a great opportunity,” said Clinton, who arrived on the island today to see first-hand the damage caused two months ago by the hurricane.
Among the new challenges and opportunities highlighted the field of renewable energy, including solar.
The former president visited the Market Square of Río Piedras, in San Juan, for which his foundation has donated 3,000 solar panels.
“I hope that Puerto Rico will become a model for the rest of the Caribbean in clean energy, maximizing the sun and the wind,” he said.
There he took the opportunity to say that he is not in favor of passing the tax reform in the United States now.
“That reform should not be passed now, when there is a very large debt and obligations with Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands (…) I do not support it, I do not think it is good for America, but if they are going to pass it, they should give more money to the people who were affected by the storm, “he said.
Subsequently, he met with resident commissioner Jenniffer González Colón, who received him in his office together with mayors of both parties, including the mayor of Ponce, María Melendez, and the mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulín Cruz.
Yulín announced that a solar energy project endorsed by the Clinton Foundation is also planned in the neighborhood of La Perla in Old San Juan.
“The idea is to turn Old San Juan into a lot because that is the tourist engine of Puerto Rico,” he said.
In his words before the mayors, he said that the issue of the hurricane “must be removed from politics, this is about people”, and insisted that we must focus on the “future, on what has potential”.
“I am willing for the Clinton Foundation to be active here three or four years if that is what is needed, I am tired of seeing how Puerto Rico is mistreated,” said Clinton, who warned that it will be “easier to help, if they ask for specific things. “
After his speech, the mayor of Ponce said that “at first this was not a matter of politics and we did not see this devastation as a political issue.”
He also indicated that the first responders to the emergency on the island after the cyclone, were the mayors themselves and recalled that the aid “came late.”
In the morning he visited with the governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rosselló, a shelter located in the William Rivera Betancourt vocational school in the municipality of Canóvanas (in the north of the island).
“Having him here is important because he has a perspective on how to get out of the emergency phase, establish normality and begin reconstruction,” said the Puerto Rican president.
Rossello stressed that the presence of the former president on the island is important because it draws attention to help continue to recover.
Clinton arrived on the island with medical supplies and solar energy equipment donated by the Clinton Foundation and also visited health clinics.
The Clinton administration was part of the recovery process of Puerto Rico following the passage of Hurricane Georges in 1998; In addition, the foundation that bears his name collaborated in the reconstruction after the earthquake in Haiti.
Clinton, is in Puerto Rico when it is two months after the passage of Hurricane Maria, which caused the death of 55 people.