The woman set to become Puerto Rico’s next governor does not want the job.
Me reitero, no tengo interés en ocupar el puesto de Gobernadora. Es un dictamen Constitucional. Espero que el señor Gobernador identifique y someta un candidato para el puesto de Secretario/a de Estado antes del 2 de agosto y así se lo he manifestado.
— Lcda Wanda Vázquez Garced (@wandavazquezg) July 28, 2019
There had been rumors circulating since last week about Justice Secretary Wanda Vázquez’ future and whether she’d do everything in her power to not become governor. The New York Times wrote Vázquez’ only path could end up accepting the governor’s role, nominating a secretary of state, and stepping down as soon as the legislature approves the secretary of state. This is if she’s true to her word – and she appears to be, at the moment.
One reason why Vázquez could be trying to avoid Puerto Rico’s top post in the fact she might have her own corruption problem. Vázquez has been hitting back at multiple allegations claiming she caused delays or didn’t investigate at all certain people. Via El Nuevo Dia.
“The interpretation given to these issues is false and defamatory,” Vázquez said in written statements without further details on the allegations.
The statement, “categorically” rejects the report published in the blog “En Blanco y Negro,” alleging that the director of the Pharmacy Board Agustín González notice[d] that there was money missing and that he notified Vázquez, who “never did anything.”
On Thursday, the blog posted screenshots of an alleged chat between former Chief of Staff Raúl Maldonado and Vázquez, showing the Justice Secretary as trying to avoid a referral she would have received from La Fortaleza on the controversy over the loss of cargo containers for the victims of Hurricane María. In a conversation on September 16, 2018, Vázquez would have told Maldonado “that way they don’t put me in a position to investigate and issue decisions.”…
Since November 2018, there is an ongoing Justice Department investigation against Roberto Benítez Burgos for alleged irregularities in the State Elections Commission. According to a source, several prosecutors recommended criminal charges against the son of former New Progressive Party electoral commissioner Norma Burgos, who was also investigated by the Justice Department, but the investigation was closed.
Yesterday, Popular Democratic Party (PPD) Representative Jesús Manuel Ortíz said he has not heard anything about a referral he made last June on the participation of former Treasury and Education Secretaries Raúl Maldonado and Julia Keleher on the filing of a pro-statehood bill in Washington.
Problematic to say the least – if it turns out these claims against Vázquez are true.
The situation involving outgoing Governor Ricardo Rosselló is also starting debate on whether Puerto Rico needs to completely redo its electoral and succession process. El Nuevo Dia took a look at the proposals.
Last Thursday, House Speaker Carlos “Johnny” Méndez filed a resolution in favor of a special referendum, to be held before the end of the year, to amend the Puerto Rican Constitution through of the creation of the lieutenant governor position. According to Méndez´s proposal, one of the New Progressive Party (PNP) vice-presidents, the lieutenant governor, a running mate on the ballot whose tasks would be delegated by the governor.
Acevedo Vilá believes the lieutenant governor should assume the duties of the Secretary of State, who “is a decorative figure” in Puerto Rico.
“I think it’s a good idea,” said PNP Senate spokesman Carmelo Ríos about the creation of the lieutenant governor position with the current tasks of the Secretary of State.
Those who criticize the proposal warn that – just as former Secretary of State Luis Rivera Marín was part of the profanity-laced chat and had to resign – a lieutenant governor in the Rosselló Nevares administration would have probably been an active participant in the Telegram’s offensive chat, which triggered massive and historic demonstrations that forced the governor’s resignation.
The other proposals include turning Puerto Rico’s line of succession into something similar to the United States federal government. Of course, if the secretary of state is a ceremonial position – and the proposed lieutenant governor position is also mostly ceremonial – then was anything actually changed except the titles? It is something to consider before Puerto Rico goes through any more reforms which may or may not help.
It’s still interesting to see how Puerto Rico is trying to handle Rosselló’s resignation and if there are ways to increase transparency within government – something which should be encouraged. Váquez – whether she wants to or not – is set to become governor on Friday. If a replacement isn’t found before then.