Mar 01 2013
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) – Puerto Rico’s governor on Tuesday approved turning over the operations of Puerto Rico’s largest airport to a private company as part of an estimated $2.6 billion deal that began under his predecessor and has been fiercely protested.
Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla said that while he would have managed things differently, the U.S. territory’s government already had committed to the deal.
“Puerto Rico gave its word and we must be firm and transparent in honoring it,” he said in an announcement hours before the deal would have expired, with dozens of protesters gathered outside Garcia’s office pledging civil disobedience in upcoming weeks.
Garcia had faced pressure from unions and legislators from his own party who have criticized the proposed 40-year contract with Aerostar Airport Holdings, saying it will lead to lost jobs, reduced wages and potentially higher costs for passengers.
Garcia, however, said the deal needed to be signed because the island’s Port Authority has to pay a $600 million debt Wednesday and a $340 million debt in June.