U.S. Responds to Concerns About Violence in Puerto Rico

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano visited San Juan on Friday, assuring the people of Puerto Rico that a strategy is in place to cope with increasing drug-related violence on the island. She said firmly that heightened security for U.S. border states was not affecting the level of support for the Caribbean.

According to a press release from the Department of Homeland Security, Napolitano met with Governor Luis Fortuño, Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi and Puerto Rico Police Department Superintendent Héctor Pesquera “to underscore the department’s commitment to collaborating with local law enforcement in the region.”

Over the weekend following the visit, 19 people were murdered in Puerto Rico, bringing this year’s total to a new high: 100 more murders than during the same period in 2011, a year that saw a record number of murders in Puerto Rico.

PDP leader Alejandro García Padilla has asked Governor Luis Fortuño to declare a state of emergency, according to InSight Crime. Fortuño, however, appears to be well aware of the problem. “Right now, Puerto Rico is serving on the front lines,” Fortuño said at last month’s hearing of the US Congress’ Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations and Management. “We need help fighting this battle along the Caribbean border, to protect the US citizens there being buffeted by violence and to precent the fight from spreading further onto the streets of the US mainland.”

Fortuño has repeatedly asked for Federal assistance with the continuing high crime rate in Puerto Rico.

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