It was President Gustavo Petro’s phrase “There is hunger on the island”, referring to the current situation in San Andrés and Providencia. This Sunday, the president traveled to the wilderness of the country to review progress in rebuilding following the ‘hurricane Iota’ that devastated much of Providencia’s infrastructure in 2020.
(Read: ‘There is hunger in Providence’: Petro)
Two years have passed since then, and the former president Ivan DukeHe was visiting the island weeks before he took over and made sure that there was 90% redevelopment in San Andrés and 85% in Providencia; but the advances were denied by Peter.
The head of state assured that a “comprehensive approach” is needed to rebuild the island. Starting with the recovery of its economy and cultural heritage. Also, to promote favorable conditions for the medical care of the people of San Andres.
“The reconstruction had to consider the human perspective in the culture of the Raizal community on the island of Providencia. Perfectly with the cultural architectures, the same houses could be built, maybe three times cheaper and without the process cost. 2 billion pesos,” Petro said.
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In this sense, the president assured that this result of 600 million pesos per house was “a series of mistakes whose fundamental roots did not make the community of Providencia the main protagonist of rebuilding.”
President Petro said there should be an investigation into the costs of the homes in Providencia because, in his view, the homes would not cost 600 million, “even if the materials were imported.”
“This warrants investigations and I hope control bodies will do this at unit costs.”said the president.
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President Gustavo Petro confirmed that the rebuilding process of the island must go beyond the houses and integrate with the human part. Therefore, he stressed the need to move forward in the island’s own economy, where fishing plays a fundamental role.
“We will initiate a study with the Ministry of Commerce to strengthen fisheries cooperatives in Providencia and San Andrés.This takes them from craft to industrialization and eliminates foreign intermediaries,” he said.
In this sense, Petro complained of licensing foreign companies rather than strengthening local fishing cooperatives.
He explained that the main idea is that ambassadors in the Antilles are from San Andrés and that they should help make an impact in the entire Caribbean region. Peter made sure that he could allow a new issue to arise as to what this had to do with rights over the sea.
Touching on the water issue, the President said that the cisterns, the traditional method of collecting rainwater built by each family on the island, were replaced with inadequate plastic tanks and the reconstruction process had begun. collecting capacity.
“We have to rebuild the water balance,” he said.
Regarding the new desalination plant, he stated that the cost of the water it produces is 10 times more expensive than before.
However, this was not the only criticism of the head of state. Petro stated that there was no effort on the connection that never reached Providencia, adding that they bought the computers without a connection.
“We will make a government effort to bring fiber optics to Providencia, This ensures that the schools there at least have good connectivity,” he said.
During the visit, the difficulties of the landfill, the fact that the island is still full of debris and the high costs of the new desalination plant were also discussed.
For his part, the Minister of Education, Alejandro Gaviria assured that the new government is considering having a “research center” in mind. In San Andrés, which serves as the epicenter of educational development in the Colombian Caribbean.
“This dream is an important center of education and opportunity, which somehow not only offers opportunities to the youth of the island, but also somehow embodies the idea of an ‘information society,'” said Gaviria.