In response to a lack of COVD-19 testing by the government of Puerto Rico during a island-wide curfew that has lasted for 31 days and continues, a group of protesters led by Colectiva Feminista live-streamed a Wednesday morning drive-through #CaravanaCombativa protest outside the WIPR television station in San Juan, calling for the government of Wanda Vázquez to step up testing and exhibit more transparency in the government’s response to the crisis.
The video shows a line of cars honking their horns. Some of the drivers held signs calling Vázquez a corrupt governor, in response a controversy involving the $38 million purchase of faulty rapid COVID-19 tests, a story that has raised serious questions about government accountability.
“Today we came here with one demand,” one masked protester said near the end of the live stream. “To demand more tests. Everyone in the world has known for months that the only solution to control the spread of this disease is to conduct mass testing. And this government is refusing to fulfill the most basic task that any government should be complete in these times. So, more tests and less corruption, because we don’t know how people are stealing money in the middle of a pandemic.”
Another video of the drive-through protest was tweeted by professor Yarimar Bonilla, who is Puerto Rican.
— Yarimar Bonilla ??? (@yarimarbonilla) April 15, 2020
As of April 15, Puerto Rico has conducted 9,209 cases, which accounts for about .03% of the island’s population. It is one of the lowest places under U.S. jurisdiction for COVID-19 testing. The positive testing rate is around 10.6% with a death rate of 5.5% (a rate that is higher that the U.S. national average.)
During a March 22 interview with Latino Rebels Radio, Yale professor of cellular neuroscience at Yale and co-founder of Ciencia PR Daniel Colón-Ramos, said that Puerto Rico needed to increase COVID-19 testing immediately.
In addition, Vázquez and her administration have been criticized for not allowing journalists to attend coronavirus task force sessions being televised by WIPR, Puerto Rico’s government-run television station. An email to the station’s president for comment about why journalists outside of WIPR are not being allowed to attend these sessions has yet to be returned.
On Wednesday, Radio Isla’s Armando Valdés spoke to Latino Rebels Radio about the rapid test price gouging controversy and the WIPR story.
Puerto Rico’s curfew is being rolled back to 7 p.m. on April 15, according to an April 14 executive order by Vázquez:
Respondiendo al llamado de los alcaldes, de los profesionales de la salud y especialmente escuchando el sentir del pueblo, he tomado la decisión de restablecer el toque de queda para las 7:00 de la noche, a partir de mañana miércoles, 15 de abril. pic.twitter.com/9Uu2Guy9lg
— Wanda Vázquez Garced (@wandavazquezg) April 14, 2020