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Rep Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon (R-PR) and SIU Exec VP Augie Tellez discuss beating back the latest efforts to weaken the Jones Act.

The American Maritime Partnership (AMP) presented Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon (R) with its American Maritime Champion Award during a ceremony in Washington, DC, on November 15.

Gonzalez-Colon serves the citizens of the commonwealth in Congress. The longtime backer of the US-flag merchant fleet and its crews is a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

During the presentation, Seafarers Executive Vice President (and MTD Executive Board Member) Augie Tellez spoke on behalf of maritime labor thanking her for her steadfast support of the Jones Act, the nation’s freight cabotage law. He noted she has come under constant attack for this support, but has never wavered.

“I am honored to have been selected for this award, finding myself in the company of many distinguished congressional leaders,” Gonzalez-Colon stated. “We all share a common goal of defending American industry and jobs and the preservation of our security of supply.

“The American shipping industry has served Puerto Rico for over a century, developing infrastructure, employees, fleets, specialized equipment and systems, and continuing to improve them, which assists with the recovery of Puerto Rico with the presence of a regular route system,” she added. “We have seen how having direct, reliable and expeditious service lifts up our economy.

“The current effort in the modernization of the fleet is critical for the reliability of service, and drives an investment in American shipbuilding in which many Puerto Rican workers are part of the team in the mainland, as well as  creating and sustaining port and shipping jobs in Puerto Rico in support of our export and import industries,’ she concluded.

AMP’s president, Ku’uhaku Park, declared, “She understands not only the importance of a reliable, on-time American supply chain to and from Puerto Rico, as was seen during the pandemic and supply-chain disruption, but also the larger significance of ensuring national security through a strong shipbuilding and merchant mariner capacity.”

MTD Executive Secretary-Treasurer Daniel Duncan and Administrator Mark Clements attended the event.

AMP is the voice of the U.S. domestic maritime industry, a pillar of our nation’s economic, national, and homeland security, whose membership includes US-flag maritime labor, ship operators and owners, shipbuilders, suppliers and others involved in the industry.