Puerto Rico’s Secretary of Natural Resources Resigns Amid New Environmental Scandal

Puerto Rico - Environment - Government

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By Mivette Vega

April 1, 2022

Rafael Machargo resigned hours after not delivering documents regarding possible violations in the Jobos Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve to the House of Representatives.

Secretary of Puerto Rico’s Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER) Rafael Machargo Maldonado resigned last night citing “personal reasons.”

His resignation came hours after not complying with the delivery of documents to the House of Representatives, regarding the most recent environmental scandal on the island.

Machargo was supposed to deliver a certified copy of the document that could verify possible violations in the Jobos Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, in Salinas.

The House of Representatives sent Machargo a letter last Saturday giving him three days to deliver the document on the investigation and intervention, if any, carried out by the agency since 2018 on possible environmental violations in the area.

Environmental groups state that since 2018 a residential area for campers is being developed in the ecological reserve, apparently without the permission of government agencies. To develop this area, mangroves have been cut down and the maritime terrestrial zone has been filled in.

Thursday afternoon, Machargo did not deliver the documents and excused himself from a public hearing to be held on Monday.

Rep. Edgardo Feliciano, of the House Natural Resources Committee, said on Friday that they will go to court to subpoena Machargo to deliver the requested information.

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi thanked Marchago for his service in a statement.

Machargo was surrounded by controversy during the year that he was at the helm of the agency. Last summer, representatives of 140 organizations protested, urging Pierluisi to remove Machargo from the position, saying he does not represent Puerto Rico’s best interests when it comes to natural resource preservation.



  • Mivette Vega

    Mivette Vega is a seasoned journalist and multimedia reporter whose stories center the Latino community. She is passionate about justice, equality, environmental matters, and animals. She is a Salvadorrican—Salvadorian that grew up in Puerto Rico—that has lived in San Juan, Venice, Italy, and Miami.



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