Angel Castillo’s Aug. 16 Other Views column, Puerto Rico: Visions of a police state, mischaracterizes a necessary new law in Puerto Rico that will keep violent criminals off our streets and make our communities safer.
Drug cartels are increasingly using Puerto Rico as a conduit to transport cocaine and other illicit drugs to the U.S. mainland, which has led to an increase in violent crimes in our neighborhoods. This new law cracks down on violent criminals and drug traffickers by increasing prison sentences for second-degree homicide to 50 years, and negligent homicide to 15 years. The sentence for first-degree homicide remains 99 years. Additionally, the law increases prison sentences for kidnapping, robbery, sexual assault and the production of child pornography.
A provision of the law would also keep violent criminals and drug lords from intimidating and threatening Puerto Rico’s elected leaders, a dangerous practice that cartels have successfully employed in Mexico. It is most definitely not intended to prevent peaceful demonstrations where U.S. citizens freely exercise their First Amendment rights, as the American Civil Liberties Union erroneously claims.
In addition to supporting tough new anti-crime measures, Gov. Luis Fortuño has made comprehensive reforms to modernize the Puerto Rico police and has sought more federal assistance to fight drug trafficking. This includes proposing a Caribbean Border Initiative that would ensure Puerto Rico receives federal resources to secure America’s Caribbean border similar to those provided to states that border Mexico.
The government of Puerto Rico is committed to making our neighborhoods safer and preventing drug cartels from gaining a foothold on our island.
Kenneth D. McClintock, secretary of state, San Juan, Puerto Rico