Referral To Justice Of Carlos Flores Surprises Senators In The Committee On Agriculture

The one referred to the Department of Justice of the Secretary of Agriculture, Carlos Flores, took three members of the Senate Committee on Agriculture by surprise.

Two of them, Cirilo Tirado and Carlos Rodríguez Mateo, raised the need for Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced to provide more information about her action, announced late Friday night.

Meanwhile, La Fortaleza announced this morning that no additional expressions will be made on the matter.

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On the one hand, Luis Berdiel, president of the Agriculture Commission, said he was surprised by the news about Flores's referral, who was director of the commission during the first four-year term of the legislator. Flores has worked as an agronomist and is a career employee of the agency he still runs.

"I have been extremely surprised since last night when I saw that headline. I really do not know why it is the referral and that it is improper behavior is very comprehensive," said Berdiel, who said he has not communicated with Flores since the announcement of La Fortaleza.

However, Berdiel accepted Vázquez's decision not to disclose additional information about the referral.

The Department of Agriculture receives both state and federal funds, so it is unknown what the reaction of the Federal Department of Agriculture would be to know that whoever directs Agriculture in Puerto Rico has been referred to the authorities for "misconduct."

"Yes, there is uncertainty in being an agency that receives state and federal funds, but as the governor has said, it is an active investigation and if she goes into saying what the investigation is about, it could affect her," said the senator. by Ponce. "I hope that in the next few days I will be giving more details," he added, declining to say if Vázquez Garced should fire Flores to avoid compromising work in the unit.

Rodríguez Mateo also said he was surprised by Flores's referral.

"In general, when they make a referral, the official's resignation is requested, but on the other hand, he assumes the presumption of innocence," said the senator for Guayama. "I do not know what information they received and what causes the referral, but I think that the most convenient thing for all parties is that this investigation be done as quickly as possible and as transparent as possible."

Rodríguez Mateo acknowledged that the silence of La Fortaleza "lends itself to speculation" and not only affects the Department of Agriculture, but also the image of Flores and the entire government.

"The government shows zero tolerance for improper acts, but by not giving details, it lends itself to speculation," he said. "They must be more specific."

In the case of Tirado, he said that Vázquez Garced's silence also hurts Flores.

"We have known Carlos Flores for many years. He is an experienced agronomist and keeping that silence, that secrecy and keeping him in office as secretary will create an environment of instability in the agricultural industry. It also damages the secretary's reputation. "Tirado said, recalling the position of the secretary of Justice, Dennise Longo Quiñones, of not providing information on ongoing investigations.

"We want to know what the referral is about," he insisted.

For Miguel Ortiz, president of the Federation of Commercial Fishermen, it is important to know the reasons why the governor referred the Secretary of Agriculture to Justice for “improper conduct”.

"If they have evidence, they should make it known to the people," said Ortiz, who said there are about 1,200 commercial fishermen on the island.

According to Ortiz, he is surprised that at an executive level the little help that agencies such as Agriculture and the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources have given to sectors affected by Hurricane Maria has not been investigated.

“It has been devastating in terms of giving aid and seeking solutions. And I feel very sorry because here (in Puerto Rico) there are good people at heart who want to work, ”he said.

He said about a year ago about $ 400,000 from the General Fund was distributed among the over 1,000 commercial fishers, but he stressed that the damage this sector had was too much and many have not yet recovered. As an example, he mentioned that the presiding Villa Pesquera in Guayama lost its four refrigerators and is still supported with blue awnings.

"We are operating halfway, but if it rains we have to close and leave," he said.

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