Things That Matter

The Drama Continues: Puerto Rico’s Supreme Court Says New Governor’s Oath Was Unconstitutional

It’s been five days since former Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló resigned following massive protests against scandalous and incriminating chats, and the archipelago still does not have a lawfully recognized successor in La Fortaleza, the governor’s mansion.

Upon stepping down on Friday, August 2, the embattled politico nominated Pedro Pierluisi.

Peirluisi was to fill the secretary of state vacancy left by Luis G. Rivera Marín, who resigned last month for his own part in the leaked messages. As secretary of state, Pierluisi would have been next in line to become governor. However, Puerto Rico’s Supreme Court unanimously ruled on Wednesday that part of the law used by Rosselló to name Pierluisi his successor is unconstitutional.

But the Supreme Court ruled against that part of the law Rosselló used to appoint Pierluisi was unconstitutional.

“The governor’s oath of office was unconstitutional,” Puerto Rico’s Supreme Court said, as reported by NBC News. “Therefore, Hon. Pedro R. Pierluisi Urrutia can’t continue his work as Governor after this Opinion and Sentence becomes effective.”

The decision, which takes effect at 5 p.m. EST, follows a lawsuit filed by Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz on Monday. In the litigation, Rivera Schatz asked the courts to immediately remove Pierluisi from the position because his governorship was unlawful according to Puerto Rico’s constitution. 

While the social codes do say that the island’s secretary of state should be the new governor if the position is vacant, it requires the person nominated to the post to be confirmed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate. However, Pierluisi had only been confirmed as secretary of state by the House when he took his oath as governor on Friday.

“It’s unconstitutional to allow a Secretary of State to become Governor without having been confirmed by both legislative chambers,” the Supreme Court said in a press release.

The Senate postponed its vote for this week, days after Rosselló’s resignation became official, meaning that Pierluisi’s governorship was unofficial and that the Caribbean island hasn’t yet filled the top seat. 

This week, instead of voting on the matter, Rivera Schatz went to the courts to argue that Pierluisi did not “occupy the position of secretary of state in property” because he wasn’t confirmed by both Houses.

In response, Pierluisi contended this wasn’t the only way that the secretary of state could be ratified, citing the law of succession of 2005, which included a recommendation by Puerto Rico’s Department of Justice to waive a secretary of state’s confirmation requirement in case of an emergency.

He is expected to be making a comment later today.

Puerto Ricans are celebrating the ruling.

Since Rosselló nominated Pierluisi as secretary of state, many have taken to the streets for “¡Pierluisi, renuncia!” demonstrations. Opponents have several issues with Pierluisi, a former resident commissioner and an attorney, but predominantly condemn his ties to the unelected fiscal control board, known on the archipelago as “la junta.” 

In the historic protests that removed Rosselló, demonstrators called for both his resignation and the disbanding of the largely-loathed Obama-appointed board that has slashed needed public services on the island. “Ricky renuncia, y llévate a la junta,” went one of the most popular chants of the rallies. Pierluisi has a long history with the board, representing Puerto Rico in Congress when the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act, or PROMESA, was passed, which created la junta; his brother-in-law is the chair of the board; and Pierluisi has been working for the law firm that does consulting for the board — a post he resigned from to take on the role as governor.

But the drama isn’t over yet since the woman next in-line still doesn’t want the island’s top job and Puerto Ricans don’t want her.

According to the Puerto Rican constitution, next in line to fill the governorship seat is Justice Secretary Wanda Vázquez, who has said repeatedly that she is not interested in the job. Puerto Rican media are reporting that Vazquez, who has also faced public disapproval for her defense of the leaked chats and her own problematic history as an attorney, will nominate Jenniffer Gonzalez, the U.S. territory’s representative in Congress, as secretary of state, who would then takeover as governor if Vazquez steps down.

When questioned about this scenario, González told local newspaper El Nuevo Día, “that is decided by the bodies and the governor. I will support whomever they choose. That has been my position since day one.”

Even more, Puerto Rico Sen. Zoe Laboy told Central Florida cable news outlet Spectrum News 13 that should Gonzalez be nominated as secretary of state by Vazquez, then she hopes both the House and Senate would have the chance to ratify the nomination.

This would pose an even greater challenge for Puerto Ricans fighting for a just and free future for their island, as Gonzalez is not only a member of the same pro-statehood party of the Rosselló administration but is also a Trump-supporting Republican.

Vázquez is expected to be sworn in as Puerto Rico’s new governor on Wednesday at 5 p.m. EST.

Read: The Governor Of Puerto Rico Was Caught In A Chat Using Grotesque Homophobic And Sexist Language And The Entire Island Is Calling Him To Resign In Massive Protests

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‘Siempre, Luis’ Is A Touching Love Letter From Lin-Manuel Miranda To His Father

Entertainment

‘Siempre, Luis’ Is A Touching Love Letter From Lin-Manuel Miranda To His Father

Mat Hayward / Getty Images for The Latinx House

We all have that one person who has changed the world for us. For Lin-Manuel Miranda, that person is his dad. The Puerto Rican entertainer created a documentary to tell his father’s story and it is a love letter to his father.

“Siempre, Luis” is Lin-Manuel Miranda’s love letter to his father.

The trailer for the HBO Documentary is a moving testament to the indomitable spirit of Luis Miranda. The Puerto Rican powerhouse helped lead a movement to get Latinos involved in and interested in politics focusing on Puerto Ricans who had left the island.

Lin-Manuel’s documentary is a deep dive into the life of the man who raised the creator of “In The Heights” and “Hamilton.” Luis was Lin-Manuel’s inspiration when playing Alexander Hamilton in his wildly popular and famous musical.

“He’s just a relentless motherf*cker,” Lin-Manuel says in the documentary.

The documentary takes people on a ride covering decades of Luis’ life. The main focus is his political activism and how one man helped create a movement to get Latinos involved in politics. Luis leveraged the hate and pushback against the Latino community as a way to energize and mobilize Latinos to get them involved like never before.

Then, Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, Luis’ home and magical escape. The island endured a direct hit from Hurricane Maria, which knocked out power to millions of Americans for months. Many Puerto Ricans fled the island for the mainland giving them a chance to vote for president in 2020.

“For me, Puerto Rico is this perfect place that all of a sudden doesn’t exist anymore,” Luis says through tears in the documentary. “I immediately saw it as my responsibility to rebuild the island.”

He added: “Doing everything we can becomes the job.

“I told him, ‘I don’t want to be a widow. There isn’t another you to replace you,’” Luz Towns-Miranda recalls to the camera about her husband’s mission to fix Puerto Rico.

Luis’ time talking about his work in Puerto Rico is accompanied by videos images of the “Hamilton” stage being constructed for the show on the island. There are shots of Luis offering aid to people and preparing meals for those impacted by the hurricane.

Luis’ activism has grown over the years and he is ready to keep making change.

“Siempre, Luis” is now available on HBO and HBOmax for your viewing pleasure. People have praised the film’s insightfulness into one of the Latinos who got his community activated and politically engaged.

READ: Lin-Manuel Wants To Keep Lots Of Ticket Prices Down To $10 When He Brings ‘Hamilton’ To Puerto Rico

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Puerto Rico’s Governor Endorses President Trump’s Reelection

Things That Matter

Puerto Rico’s Governor Endorses President Trump’s Reelection

Ricardo Arduengo / AFP via Getty Images

The 2020 election is heating up as Nov. 3 draws closer. Both Joe Biden and President Donald Trump are seeking every endorsement possible and Puerto Rico’s governor just gave hers. Her endorsement has stunned Puerto Ricans and political pundits alike.

Puerto Rico Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced endorsed President Donald Trump in his reelection.

Vázquez Garced was appointed as governor in 2019 following a tumultuous time on the island. Politically, Puerto Rico has recently undergone a series of protests because of political corruption and a chat scandal involving then-Governor Ricardo Rosselló.

Gov. Rosselló attempted to appoint his own successor before resigning following growing protest but the Puerto Rico Supreme Court ruled it was unconstitutional. Vázquez Garced was then appointed as governor. The Puerto Rican people then turned their protests against Rosselló to be against Vázquez Garced. #WandaRenuncia began trending when Rosselló announced his resignation.

The endorsement stunned people who just don’t understand why that endorsement happened.

“I ask all Puerto Ricans who are listening to go vote,” the governor said in an interview on Telemundo. “They have to go to vote, exercise their right to vote and evaluate who has represented being a person who thinks about Puerto Ricans and their needs at the most difficult moment. It is Donald Trump.”

The endorsement came as a surprise for people following President Trump’s disastrous response after Hurricane Maria. The president spent months denying the death count of the natural disaster and fought against aid to the island. It was during this time that the viral video of him throwing paper towels into a crowd of people hit Twitter sparking outrage among the Puerto Rican people.

Puerto Ricans really want people to remember that Vázquez Garced was not elected by the Puerto Rican people.

Vázquez Garced was supposed to accompany President Trump to a campaign event in Central Florida on Friday. Covid put a pause on that so the governor took time during an interview with Telemundo to offer her endorsement of President Trump.

Recently, President Trump approved a $13 billion relief package for Puerto Rico. The sudden move has been seen as political in an effort to get support from Puerto Ricans who fled the island for Florida because of the failed response in 2017. The president denies it saying he had been working on the package for “a long time.”

The endorsement has a very pointed purpose.

Puerto Ricans on the island, while American citizens, are not allowed to vote in the presidential election. However, the Puerto Ricans who left the island following a series of natural disaster are allowed if they are on the mainland.

Florida is one state that a lot of Puerto Ricans have landed and is a key state for either party to win the election. Political pundits have pointed to the Trump administration suddenly advancing things like the relief package as a way to secure the Puerto Rican vote.

Puerto Ricans are telling voters to listen to Puerto Ricans, not the governor of Puerto Rico.

Puerto Ricans are not fans of President Trump. The Hurricane Maria response alone sank the president’s approval ratings with Puerto Ricans. In a recent poll, 52 percent of people in Puerto Rico rated President Trump’s response to Hurricane Maria as poor. Meanwhile, 15 percent of Puerto Ricans said his response was “excellent,” “very good,” or “good.”

READ: Political Chaos Returns To Puerto Rico As The Unelected Governor Faces Investigations And Calls For Her Resignation

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