Gutiérrez may hike Vía Verde fight
Gutiérrez, a Democrat from Chicago, was a key speaker during a march in Adjuntas against the Vía Verde project that drew thousands of opponents of the proposed pipeline.
“I think any actions that are nonviolent, that are pacifistic, that block processes that can damage the public, are legitimate,” Gutiérrez said.
The veteran stateside lawmaker was asked if he would engage in civil disobedience as he did more than a decade ago during protests against Navy military training on Vieques.
Gutiérrez reaffirmed his opposition to Vía Verde and defended his right to fight a project that is thousands of miles from his legislative district. Any member of Congress has the right to weigh in on issues involving any issue involving the nation, whether it is a domestic matter or related to foreign policy, he said.
He called Sunday for the project to be scrapped “once and for all.”
He complained that some in the mainland consider him “too Puerto Rican to be American,” while some on the island consider him “too American to be Puerto Rican.”
Gutiérrez’s parents were born in Puerto Rico. He was raised in Illinois and Puerto Rico, graduating from high school in San Sebastián and marrying in Caguas.
The lawmaker took to the floor of Congress last month seeking to block the Puerto Rico government’s plans to build a natural-gas pipeline aimed at bringing down energy costs on the island.
Gutiérrez has repeatedly railed against the administration of island Gov. Luis Fortuño in recent months.
The 10-term congressman from the 4th district in Chicago came under heavy criticism recently over remarks he made on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives denouncing what he considers to be civil rights violations by the Fortuño administration. He has cited the administration’s handling of protests over University of Puerto Rico tuition hikes and alleged Police Department brutality. He also compared the island to an Egypt-style dictatorship and blasted the chief judge of the U.S. District Court in Puerto Rico.
Last month, he turned his attention to the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority’s (Prepa) Vía Verde project, urging the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to block the construction of the proposed natural-gas pipeline, which the Illinois lawmaker said is “extremely unpopular” in Puerto Rico.
Gutiérrez blasted Fortuño, a national Republican and president of the island’s statehood-supporting New Progressive Party (NPP), for backing Vía Verde after scrapping the Acevedo Vilá administration’s plan to build a natural gas pipeline.
He said the administration is trying to ram through the project “under the cover of night.”
Gutiérrez criticized Fortuño’s signing of an executive order declaring an energy emergency, which put Vía Verde on a fast-track for local regulatory approval.