Things That Matter

Puerto Rico Governor Tries To End His Government’s Crisis By Appointing New Secretary Of State But Will It Be Enough?

The drama in Puerto Rico, at least when it comes to the governor’s office, may finally be coming to an end. With current Governor Rosselló set to leave on Friday, after massive protests demanding his resignation, he has appointed a new Secretary of State to take over for him.

Though things aren’t over yet. The new Secretary of State would still have to be confirmed by the state’s legislature and that’s proving to be easier said than done.

Just two days before he’s set to leave office, Gov. Rosselló has had to name a new Secretary of State so he can hopefully take over as governor.

Current Governor Ricardo Rosselló formally nominated the island’s former non-voting representative in the U.S. Congress, Pedro Pierluisi, as secretary of state, which would position him to take over the government if he is confirmed by lawmakers. 

“After much analysis and taking into account the best interests of our people, I have selected Mr. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia to fill the vacancy of secretary of state,” Rosselló said in a statement

But some members of Rosselló’s party voiced opposition to the pick, citing Pierluisi’s role advising the federally created financial oversight board overseeing the island’s bankruptcy, which is highly unpopular with Puerto Rico residents. 

Anger over the bankruptcy, the handling of back-to-back 2017 hurricanes that killed some 3,000 people, the filing of federal corruption charges against two former administration officials and the publication of misogynistic and homophobic chat messages between Rosselló and his close advisers sparked nearly two weeks of street protests this month demanding his ouster. 

The largest protest, last week, drew an estimated 500,000 demonstrators to the streets of San Juan, capital of the island of 3.2 million people.

The man taking over as governor is Pedro Pierluisi, who actually lost the gubernatorial election To Rosselló in 2016.

A source close to the Rosselló administration told Reuters that Pierluisi’s nomination may be “dead on arrival” as a result of his connection to the oversight board. 

To be confirmed, Pierluisi will need votes that equate to a majority of the 51 members of the Puerto Rico House and of the 27 senators. Lawmakers are expected to vote on Thursday in a special session Rosselló called when he made the nomination.

Pierluisi said his goal is to transform the energy shown by Puerto Ricans into constructive actions. 

“I have listened to the people’s messages, their demonstrations, their demands and their concerns,” he said in a statement. “And in this new challenge in my life, I will only answer to the people.”

All of this had to happen because the woman next in line to be governor said she didn’t want the job.

Replacing the first-term governor became complicated after Secretary of State Luis Rivera Marin, who would have been first in line to assume the office, resigned on July 13 because of his participation in the group chat. Afterward, the second in line for the top government post, Secretary of Justice Wanda Vázquez, said she did not want the position.

Even if she had wanted the job though, it doesn’t look like she’d of lasted long. Most Puerto Ricans were against her taking the office since they view her as having been too close to the governor and largely implicit in his scandals.

Meanwhile, Puerto Rico’s First Lady is hosting some what of a farewell at San Juan’s convention center.

According to her office, the First Lady wanted to thank supporters at a small farewell event in the city’s convention center. A few dozen people showed up to the event – illustrating how little support the governor has left in the island.

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