By Caribbean News Now contributor
FORT LAUDERDALE, USA — Post-hurricane issues in Puerto Rico have again been highlighted during the senate election campaign in Florida between outgoing governor, Republican Rick Scott, and Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson.
When Scott led a delegation of utility providers to Puerto Rico last year to help the hurricane-ravaged island, he also was protecting his investment of untold millions of dollars invested in the commonwealth’s devastated electric company, the Florida Bulldog has reported.
The Scotts’ stake is via AG Superfund, a New York hedge fund that, with other large investors, issued $9 billion of credit to the government-run Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) enticed by the island’s lucrative tax breaks.
In July, Scott’s so-called “blind trust” managed by a long-time business crony reportedly valued its AG Superfund holdings as worth between $1 million and $5 million. He also disclosed that four trusts and a family partnership in the name of his wife Ann Scott valued their investments as being worth over $1 million each – meaning the Scotts’ total investment in AG Superfund is at least $5 million.
in July 2017, burdened by poor rate collection and a lack of maintenance, PREPA filed for bankruptcy in federal court in Puerto Rico. Two months later, on September 20, Hurricane Maria arrived with 155 miles-per-hour winds – shredding PREPA’s power grid and knocking out electricity to the island’s three million people, the Florida Bulldog reported
On November 3, 2017, at the invitation of Governor Ricardo Rosselló, Scott led a delegation of Florida utility providers to Puerto Rico, including representatives from Florida power companies.
In the months that followed, those utilities and many others sent crews to the island to get electricity up and running. In August, PREPA announced that restoration had been completed.
Rosselló has since endorsed Nelson’s campaign for re-election to the Senate and also that of Democratic candidate for Florida governor, Andrew Gillum.
Latino voters have played a large role in a state like Florida for decades. Puerto Ricans, however, including those displaced by Hurricane Maria have one major difference: They are American citizens and therefore have a legal right to register to vote.
However, candidates courting that demographic are still facing the challenges of educating voters on the issues.
Orlando-area Democratic Rep. Darren Soto, of Florida’s 9th Congressional District, who is running for re-election, said one way they have helped educate displaced Puerto Rican voters is by discussing Donald Trump.
“We have had some help in defining the parties by saying that if you support Trump, you’re Republican, if you oppose Trump you’re a Democrat,” Soto said.