Speaking at the christening ceremony for El Coquí on October 20, Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González-Colón (R-PR) made a powerful address on the value of state-of-the-art ships serving the island under the Jones Act to Puerto Rico's economy and economic recovery following the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria.
"I'm happy today because this industry is the lifeblood of Puerto Rico. This industry represents everything in our economy. When you are an island, you depend on ships," González-Colón said. "Many people may talk about amending the Jones Act or taking it away, but they're not living on the island. And they don't need that supply on a daily basis, on a weekly basis, and have it reliable like we receive it today - and that's the reason I support the Jones Act."
El Coquí is named for a frog native to Puerto Rico and González-Colón shared an interesting fact about the ship's namesake with the audience.
"The El Coquí is only living in Puerto Rico, and if you take the frog off the island, it will not sing. And that to me is kind of like the lifeblood of the island," she said. "And just like [the frog], this El Coquí will be the lifeblood of the island for many, many years to come."
González-Colón also thanked Crowley and other U.S. maritime industry leaders for their efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Jones Act vessels were the first ships to arrive with goods and federal disaster aid as soon as the ports were re-opened in Puerto Rico, she said.
"I think it's remarkable that more than 300 local Crowley employees from Puerto Rico were the ones who helped get Puerto Rico back on its feet during the recovery period. They didn't come from China. They didn't come from Europe. They were U.S. citizens living in Puerto Rico who made that happen and that's important. Thank you, Crowley, for this kind of investment. I know the American maritime industry will have the economy of Puerto Rico's back."