A video clip recorded by Puerto Rican radio journalist Jesus Rodriguez Garcia purports to show seven large intermodal shipping containers full of rotting food and other relief supplies that were apparently shipped to the island some 11 months ago in the wake of two destructive hurricanes. 

The reporter’s blurry video records as he makes an approach through an overgrown empty lot to a fenced installation of Puerto Rico’s State Electoral Commission (Comisión Estatal de Elecciones - CEE). Cyclone fencing and barbed wire can be seen separating the Commission area from the vacant lot, while some of the fencing has been apparently blown down and obviously damaged. Reporter Rodriguez Garcia can be heard saying breathlessly that there are supplies in a number of steel containers full of supplies that had been collected after Hurricane Maria in 2017. Citing his sources, the reporter said that many of the containers “are full of rats and stinking.” Reporting for Radio Isla radio station, Rodriguez Garcia said that media relations representatives for the Commission refused permission for him to enter the compound where the containers are kept.

Entering the compound, Rodriguez Garcia recorded from inside one of the containers where palletized corrugated boxes full of food and other supplies could be seen. In one clip could be seen a box of “Elbow Macaroni” noodles and a box of plastic wrap. The supplies appear to have been ravaged and exposed to the elements. Rodriguez Garcia also pointed out that he found jarred baby food in an open cardboard box. Other cardboard boxes, unopened, can been seen stacked within the shipping container. The reporter also found broken bottles of medicines, as well as a box marked ‘can openers.’ “All this remained warehouse here,” he said, “and was not distributed. We don’t know the reason why. It is in the State Electoral Commission.” He noted its location at the CEE headquarters on Federico Costas Final street in Hato Rey, Puerto Rico. 

In September 2017, interim CEE president María D. Santiago Rodríguez announced after Hurricane Maria that her agency was receiving donations such as non-perishable and canned food, diapers for babies and adults, water, and other necessities. 

Rodriguez Garcia identified what he said were rate feces sprinkled over the boxes in the container he visited. He counted seven containers sitting atop semi-trailers. 

In other containers, the reporter found bottled water, canned food, and clothing. 

Calls by Spero News to the CEE in Puerto Rico went unanswered on Friday.

Puerto Rico National Guard Adjutant General Isabelo Rivera told Radio Isla today that the relief supplies at the CEE will be distributed to the island within the next few days. He claimed that the great majority of the supplies managed by the Guard were indeed distributed after Hurricane Maria. He added that some food was not distributed because it was expired when it arrived at the CEE. “After the distribution centers were closed,” Rivera said, “donations continued to arrive and which the Guard continued to store in the trailers located at the CEE.” He claimed that the container that reporter Rodriguez Garcia found was full of expired donations. Expired donations, he said, were not distributed because of health concerns and will be decommissioned. The rest will be distributed to to nonprofits and needy persons. He added that there are approximately 10 trailers that contain electric fans, batteries, and nonperishable food.

Award-winning CBS reporter David Bagnaud also reported on the undistributed supplies at CEE and entered the compound with his own "security guards" in the government facility on Friday.
 

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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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