November 26, 2020

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5 pending investigations in Justice that touch La Fortaleza


The sudden dismissal of the Secretary of Justice, Dennise Longo Quiñones, last Friday afternoon still continues without specific explanations from the Governor, Wanda Vázquez, who has only said that there were reasons that led to the withdrawal of her trust in the now ex-official. Longo Quiñones' departure comes at a time when he had at least five investigations that involved La Fortaleza to some extent and in some cases even the Governor herself.

We reviewed the investigations that were on Longo's desk and that now remain in the hands of Wandymar Burgos Vargas, who was appointed interim secretary. The lawyer comes from the area of ​​civil litigation and not from Public Integrity where the investigations that in some way or other touch La Fortaleza are currently being handled.

  1. Investigation into the management of an emergency aid warehouse in Ponce

In Last January, after citizens noticed a warehouse full of emergency supplies in Ponce where there was a need for them and aid had not been distributed to people affected by the earthquakes at the beginning of the year and the situation got out of control in the place; Governor Wanda Vázquez fired several officials from her cabinet. The dismissals went to the director of the Bureau of Administration for Emergency and Disaster Management (NAMED), Carlos Acevedo, the Secretary of Housing, Fernando Gil and the Secretary of the Family, Glorimar Andújar. At that time, the Governor ordered an investigation into the management of emergency supplies by the Special Investigation Bureau (NIE) and within 48 hours that report passed to the Department of Justice. Since the report went to Justice, an investigation has been launched in the Public Integrity Division. The former secretary, Dennise Longo, did not agree to requests from the press and the House of Representatives about access to the NIE report, claiming that it was a document from the prosecution summary. After a judicial challenge to his position, the report was made public, but did not reveal any substantial findings. For her defense to not make public the report and allegations before the House of Representatives, Longo ended up being referred to different law and order agencies by the legislative body that the now ex-secretary understands lied under oath. In the controversy over the management of supplies, the former director of NAMED has publicly said that he followed an official disaster plan and that La Fortaleza was aware at all times of the existence of the warehouse in Ponce. Acevedo even maintains that there was a parallel structure to NAMED from La Fortaleza to handle the emergency and that he did not have control of daily decisions, since he was sent to be directly in the affected areas.

  1. Investigation into political interventions in aid distribution and intervention of La Fortaleza to restitute a suspended official in the Family

The dismissal of the Family Secretary, Glorimar Andujar occurred amid the controversy over the Ponce warehouse. The governor, Wanda Vázquez said that she fired Andujar because in a meeting the official indicated that they have multiple collection and distribution centers for municipalities, but could not give information on where these warehouses were, or if inventories had been made. "I don't know if this happened before, but in my administration they cannot come with lies," said Vázquez. However, five days later an email came out that called into question the Governor's version. It was learned that Andjar had initiated an internal investigation into the intervention of political figures in the distribution of aid in the areas affected by the earthquakes and that as part of the process he had suspended the administrator of the Administration for Socioeconomic and Family Development (ADSEF), Surima Quiñones. From La Fortaleza, the Secretary of the Interior, Antonio Pabón sent an email to the former Secretary of the Family, Glorimar Andújar, to reverse the dismissal. By not reversing it, Andújar was dismissed.

Given this information, the popular representative, Rafael “Tatito” Hernández, filed a complaint against the Governor of Justice and other investigative entities. "Andújar's abrupt dismissal uncovered an apparent scheme to politically benefit several elected officials who have publicly endorsed Governor Vázquez for her reelection to the governor in the next elections," said the legislator at the time.

At a hearing Last February, Longo confirmed that a separate investigation was generated from that complaint in the Division of Public Integrity.

As recent as last week, Andujar raised in an interview with Radio Isla that his dismissal was in retaliation for the investigation he had started. "I had nothing to do with that Ponce warehouse and this is confirmed (with the referrals from the House of Representatives on the matter of the Ponce warehouse). The only discrepancy was the one related to those ADSEF supplies and the actions I took in this regard, which unfortunately I understand was what triggered my removal from the post, but I left with the satisfaction of a job well done, "said the official. dismissed by Vázquez.

Investigation into the purchase of COVID-19 evidence in the Government

Although the House of Representatives did an investigation into allegations of irregularities in the purchasing processes related to the public health emergency with COVID-19 that it did not refer to Justice for lack of trust, the agency does develop its own investigation from the Division of Public Integrity. In this case, Secretary Longo's dismissal was inhibited because his mother, Concepción Quiñones de Longo was acting secretary at the Health Department during the emergency and made serious charges against La Fortaleza by resigning the position. The governor, Wanda Vázquez characterized Dr. Quiñones de Longo as a mendacious person.

At least the House of Representatives investigation concluded with references to multiple figures linked to La Fortaleza, including the Secretary of the Interior, Antonio Pabón Batlle and the Undersecretary Lillian Sánchez, as well as the coordinator of the Medical Task Force, Segundo Rodríguez. Nothing has come out of the investigation in Justice.

Investigation on the Telegram chat

After a controversy with the Panel of the Independent Special Prosecutor for deficiencies that that body pointed out to the aforementioned Department of Justice about those involved in the Telegram chat that culminated in Ricardo Rosselló's resignation from the governorship, Longo announced that he would resume the investigation in areas outside the panel's jurisdiction. "With respect to the contractors and those government officials who did not participate in the WRF Chat and were referred for related conduct over which the Panel decided not to exercise jurisdiction, since the Panel has determined that the aforementioned did not include any information with Regarding these matters, we propose to request that the cases be returned in conjunction with the documentary evidence submitted in 37 boxes of evaluated government contracts, "Longo said on February 14.

Violation of the Curfew at the PNP headquarters [19659011] A complaint by the popular representative, Luis Vega Ramos, gave way to another investigation in the Department of Justice on actions that directly involve the governor, Wanda Vázquez. In this case, it is a possible violation of the Executive Order issued by Vázquez herself when the new headquarters of the New Progressive Party was inaugurated on May 17 without observing social distancing measures and amid a lockdown.

According to Vega Ramos, the now former Secretary of Justice informed her by letter sent electronically that the District Attorney of San Juan, Víctor Carbonell, is in charge of the investigation of his complaint.

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