PUERTO RICO TO SPEAKER PAUL RYAN: “PUTTING HEALTH FIRST” MEANS CLOSING TOXIC LANDFILLS TO FIGHT ZIKA

(SAN JUAN – August 5, 2016) The co-founder of the citizens’ action group Puerto Rico Limpio, Hiram J. Torres Montalvo, responded to an op-ed published in USA Today yesterday by U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, entitled “Drop the Politics, Put Health First.”   In the piece, Ryan wrote that the Democrats and Republicans are too trapped in politics to adopt and fund a policy to fight Zika in the United States.

Torres Montalvo said the obstacles to fighting Zika in Puerto Rico go far beyond politics to a failure by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to enforce existing federal laws that would close breeding grounds for disease-spreading mosquitos.

“Yes, I agree with Speaker Ryan, we shouldn’t be politicizing the Zika threat. But in Puerto Rico our problems with Zika are far more serious than politicizing the issue,” Torres Montalvo said.

“On one had the EPA, the CDC and our local government are trying to fight the virus, but on the other they are avoiding the most important task when it comes to eliminating the mosquitoes that cause the virus, and that is eliminating their breeding grounds,” he added.

“In Puerto Rico we are currently living in an environment that is full of toxic open dumps with no leachate controls, and where dumping and accumulating garbage in the open is considered something normal,” he noted.

“If you really want to drop the politics and stop the Zika virus from spreading, existing law and authority that the EPA can exercise today must be used to close toxic landfills that serve as a breeding paradise for the mosquitoes.  We must demand the EPA take this necessary action,” Torres Montalvo concluded.

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