Puerto Rico


Report to the IAPA 77th General Assembly Virtual

October 19 – 22, 2021


The characteristic ambivalence of the government regarding transparency and the right of access to public information persisted during this period. While progress was made at the legislative and municipal levels for the disclosure of information on salaries, wages, and government purchasing and bidding processes, petitioners continue to resort to the courts.

The Health Department has limited the information regarding the pandemic. Two members of the Health Department's Municipal Case Investigation and Contact Tracking System (SMICRC) - as well as two directors - resigned over the lack of transparency.

For four months, the Medical Sciences Campus concealed the causes for the loss of accreditation of the Neurosurgery Program, despite complaints from the media - including El Nuevo Día.

The Center for Investigative Journalism (CPI) took legal action against the Economic Development and Treasury secretaries for their refusal to disclose information related to resident investors and the tax incentives they receive.

Several Credit Unions took to the courts to force the Puerto Rico Public Corporation for the Supervision of Cooperatives (COSSEC) to disclose information. These cases were resolved in favor of the petitioners.

In a request for access to information related to the reports, the Puerto Rico Supreme Court ordered the Police to disclose information on the use of force by officers - but limited the disclosure of personal data of victims, witnesses and minors.

The Judicial Branch, however, denied access to judicial information under the pretext of the right to privacy in cases of femicides - even though the victims' families demanded disclosure.

A majority of the Supreme Court judges rejected four petitions for reconsideration filed by journalistic associations.

In response to this event, the Pro-Transparency Alliance was born - created by the Overseas Press Club and the Puerto Rico Journalists Association - with the goal of overseeing the Judicial Branch in the same way that other branches of government are overseen.

In April, Loíza became the first municipality to launch a digital platform to publish purchases and auctions.

Also, in April, Governor Pedro Pierluisi signed an executive order to promote greater transparency in the contracting of professional services - which must be open, competitive and public processes.

In August, House Speaker Rafael Hernández Montañez announced a new digital platform on payroll and contract expenses, lobbyist registration, legislator performance and committee work.

Epidemiologist Yonaica Plaza resigned her post and denounced that her work for the Health Department was being restricted by the Epidemiology Office due to the lack of access to information.

In August, three other SMICRC members resigned over the lack of transparency from the Health Department. They took their demands for transparency of infection data to the Legislature - especially in the area of education.