Waste and corruption in handling relief efforts

Puerto Rican Gov. Wanda Vasquez is fighting back against the corruption and inefficiency that has hindered efforts to help hurricane victims on her island. Good for her. U.S. officials should provide all the support at their disposal.

On Sunday, Vasquez fired the heads of two government agencies, the departments of housing and families. Though Vasquez did not cite specific reasons for her action, she said she had lost confidence in the two.

More firings may be coming, the governor added.

Her action came after a video was posted online, showing a warehouse in the city of Ponce that was crammed with supplies sent to Puerto Rico not long after Hurricane Maria savaged the territory in September 2017. Among items in the warehouse were bottled water, cots, baby food and other relief supplies.

“I spent several days requesting cots and water,” complained Ponce’s mayor after the warehouse video was posted.

After taking her action, Vasquez said she worried that discovery of the warehouse would harm her government’s credibility in Washington and might delay delivery of federal relief funds.

By itself, the video indeed might have had that effect. But Vasquez’s crackdown — if it proceeds — should be taken of evidence Puerto Rican leaders intend finally to stamp out waste and corruption in handling relief efforts. If so, they should be supported.


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