Over 4,000 angry residents about the ongoing power shortages in The U.S. territories in Puerto Rico marched Friday to bemoan the way that the absence of electricity affects their working conditions, health and even their children's education.
A lot of them have demanded the demise of Luma which is a private corporation which took over Puerto Rico's distribution and transmission of electricity on the 1st of June. Many are also angry with the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, which manages generators that have been crashing in recent weeks, mostly because of a absence of maintenance and repairs.
"We're tired of coming home and discovering that we have no lights," said Mayra Rivera, who is 55 and said she's particularly concerned about her parents, aged 90 and 91 and the heat that they endure at home.
Lawmakers want clarification to Luma Energy over worsening Puerto Rico power shortage
OCT. 14, 202103:10
Many walked down a major roadway in the city city of San Juan as the sun went down and blocked the traffic. At night the cellphones of people held in the air, turning the roadway into an endless sea of lights. The highway was closed during massive protests in the year 2019 that resulted in the resignation of the governor.
A few wore T-shirts with the words, "Go to hell, Luma" while they banged and clapped pots as they walked behind massive speakers that played slogans, such as "My power went out, damn it, and now my fridge will be ruined."
One of the marchers was Juan Antonio Rivera, 78 and who stated that the most recent outage had left him without power over the course of 43 hours. Previous ones caused damage to the two computers he had.
"And one of them cost $200 to fix!" He exclaimed. "I have the receipts at home to send to Luma."
Image: Protesters march on Las Americas Highway to demand the removal of power company Luma with a persistent shortage of electricity throughout the island in San Juan, Puerto Rico on October. 15 2021.
Protesters marched through Las Americas Highway to demand the deportation of power provider Luma due to the ongoing shortage of power across the island. The protests are held at San Juan, Puerto Rico on October. 15. 2021.Rocardo Arduengo AFP -- Getty Images
Power outages have happened more often and lasted for longer in recent weeks, with many complaining that they are unable to give themselves respiratory treatments or had to dispose of food items or insulin. A lot of people have complained that they are unable to work or that their children can't take online classes, and the expensive appliances are damaged.
Cicma Albino is a teacher of 56 years of Guayama who drove for more than an hour to attend the demonstration, told the media that the school was affected by outages during three consecutive days.
One of the demonstrators who worked as linesman at the Electric Power Authority donned his work attire, including a the tool belt and helmet He said he was angry and upset over the power interruptions since his mother is sick.
"She will suffer," said Jesus Ambert of the outages.
The power grid of Puerto Rico has become increasingly unstable since the hurricane Maria struck it in of 2017 as a devastating category 4 hurricane. The efforts to strengthen the grid are yet to begin after the government announced on Thursday that it will be the first time they have disbursed in federal money for the Electric Power Authority, with $7.1 million allocated to be used for reconstruction. This money is part of the overall $9.5 billion pledged by the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency to repair the grid.