fogn.png
Friday September 25th, 2020 10:18PM

Puerto Rico, with 3 governors in a week, considers a 4th

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — A day after Puerto Rico got its third governor in less than a week following angry street protests, top officials from new leader Wanda Vázquez's own party talked openly Thursday about their desire to see a fourth take over the position.

Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz, who played a key role in the successful court challenge to the swearing-in of Pedro Pierluisi as governor after Gov. Ricardo Rosselló resigned, publicly backed Jenniffer González — Puerto Rico's non-voting representative in Congress — to be secretary of state, which would put her first in line to become governor if the office should be vacated again.

"If she's good over there, she would be even better here," Schatz said after he emerged from a more than four-hour meeting with 66 party members, including senators and mayors.

He said González had everyone's support, but he added that he would not ask Vázquez to step down.

"We're not ... planning a war here against anyone," Schatz said.

Schatz, González and the president of the House of Representatives met with Vázquez privately Thursday night at the new governor's request. "I'm not going to lobby for anything or negotiate anything," Schatz said before the meeting, and the participants did not comment after the session.

Other members of his pro-statehood New Progressive Party were more outspoken, including Rep. José Meléndez, who said that González was a consensus person and that any change in the governorship should happen quickly.

"The key to breaking the bottleneck lies with Wanda Vázquez," Meléndez said.

For González to become governor, she would have to be nominated to the open secretary of state position and confirmed by both the House and Senate, both of which are controlled by Schatz's party. Then Vázquez would have to resign, though the new governor said she did not intend to step down despite previous comments that she didn't want the job.

González said the presidents of the House and Senate called her last weekend asking if she was available to become secretary of state as a candidate of consensus, and she agreed if it would help restore credibility and stability to Puerto Rico.

"It's time that people and not politicians become the priority," she said.

She said she was not seeking Vázquez's position, but added: "If I got that privilege, I would be a great governor ... My experience has proven results."

She said she would change all Cabinet officials and scrutinize all contracts if she became governor.

González, who is chairwoman of the Republican Party of Puerto Rico, warned that the U.S. government has doubts about how the island is handling federal funds: "The specter of corruption has called into question access to those funds. ... They don't trust Puerto Rico's institutions or its officials."

Puerto Rico's Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that Pierluisi had been placed in office unconstitutionally, resulting in Vázquez, the justice secretary, being sworn in as governor the same evening.

Amid the instability, people on the economically struggling territory of 3.2 million are bracing for more turmoil. The political establishment was knocked off balance by huge street protests spawned by anger over corruption, mismanagement of funds and a leaked obscenity-laced chat in which Rosselló and several top aides disparaged women, gay people and victims of Hurricane Maria, among others.

On July 10, Rosselló's former education secretary, former Health Insurance Administration chief and three others were arrested on charges of steering federal money to unqualified, politically connected contractors. Islanders are also angry over the territory's protracted economic woes and slow recovery from 2017's devastating Hurricane Maria.

Vázquez sought to calm the anger in a televised statement late Wednesday, saying she shares the pain of recent weeks and vowing to bring unity and stability.

"We have all felt the anxiety provoked by the instability and uncertainty," Vázquez said. "Faced with this enormous challenge and with God ahead, I take a step forward with no interest other than serving the people as I have done my whole life."

Vázquez has worked in government for more than 30 years and is the second woman to be governor. She would serve out the remainder of Rosselló's term until elections in November 2020 — unless she doesn't.

At least some involved in the anti-Rosselló protests are calling for her ouster, too, seeing her as a continuation of the previous administration. However, there were no protests Thursday.

Critics say Vázquez was not aggressive enough as justice secretary in pursuing corruption investigations involving members of her New Progressive Party and that she did not prioritize gender violence cases. She's also been accused of ignoring investigations into alleged mismanagement of hurricane aid, and of possible ethics violations.

Appointed justice secretary in January 2017, Vázquez previously worked as a district attorney for two decades at Puerto Rico's Justice Department, handling domestic and sexual abuse cases. In 2010, she was appointed director of the Office for Women's Rights.

In her televised statement Wednesday night, Vázquez said she would work for all Puerto Ricans.

"History has brought me here without any political aspirations," she said. "I recognize that I was not chosen by the people for this position. ... But I came from those same people. I am a product of public schools. ... I know what it is to come from nothing. I know what hard work is."

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Online Supreme Court News, AP Business, AP Business - Corporate News
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Puerto Rico, with 3 governors in a week, considers a 4th
A day after Puerto Rico got its third governor in less than a week, top officials from new leader Wanda Vázquez's own party are talking openly about their desire to see a fourth
12:26PM ( 6 minutes ago )
Fearing the next AOC, House Democrats hoard campaign cash
House Democratic incumbents are raising money fearing upstarts like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
12:18PM ( 13 minutes ago )
Busloads released after Mississippi immigration raids
Busloads of immigrant workers have been released a day after being detained in the largest immigration raid in a decade in the United States
12:14PM ( 18 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Billionaire: Epstein misappropriated 'vast sums' from wealth
The retail titan behind Victoria's Secret says the financier Jeffrey Epstein misappropriated "vast sums" of his fortune while managing his personal finances
11:41AM ( 50 minutes ago )
White Sox, Yankees to play at 'Field of Dreams' in 2020
White Sox, Yankees to play at 'Field of Dreams' in 2020 in 1st major league game ever played in Iowa
11:40AM ( 52 minutes ago )
Smokey Bear, fire prevention icon in US, to turn 75
Smokey Bear, the icon of the longest-running public service campaign in the U.S., is set to turn 75 years old
11:34AM ( 57 minutes ago )
AP National News
Fans recreate Beatles' Abbey Road cover shot 50 years on
Hundreds of Beatles fans have gathered at a crosswalk in London's St. John's Wood neighborhood to recreate the "Abbey Road" cover image, half a century after it was created
9:32AM ( 3 hours ago )
Largest US immigration raids in a decade net 680 arrests
U.S. immigration officials arrest 680 people in raids on Mississippi chicken food processing plants making it the largest workplace sting in at least a decade
8:30AM ( 4 hours ago )
Mayors push Senate to return to Washington for gun bill vote
More than 200 mayors are urging Senate leaders to return to Washington to act on bipartisan gun safety legislation
7:04AM ( 5 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
The Latest: Video shows Trump joking about crowd sizes
President Donald Trump joked with medical professionals about his political rally crowd sizes as he toured an El Paso hospital in the wake of Saturday's mass shooting
11:44AM ( 48 minutes ago )
Ivanka Trump to promote women's initiative in South America
Ivanka Trump will call attention to issues that make it difficult for women in developing countries to prosper financially when she travels to South America in September
11:24AM ( 1 hour ago )
Poland's parliament speaker resigns over use of govt flights
The speaker of the Polish parliament says he is resigning after a scandal erupted over his and his family's private use of a government plane
8:29AM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Puerto Ricans get their 3rd governor in 6 days
Puerto Rico Justice Secretary Wanda Vázquez has been sworn in as the island's new governor, culminating weeks of political turmoil
10:41PM ( 13 hours ago )
US officials say top US diplomat for Latin America resigns
U.S. officials say the Trump administration's top diplomat for Latin America has resigned amid internal disputes over immigration policy for the region
9:56PM ( 14 hours ago )
Protesters chant as Trump visits Dayton, El Paso
Trump met by protesters as he visits survivors of last weekend's mass shootings in Texas and Ohio
9:42PM ( 14 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Puerto Rico high court overturns Pedro Pierluisi as governor
Puerto Rico's Supreme Court has overturned the swearing in of Pedro Pierluisi as the island's governor less than a week ago, clearing the way for Justice Secretary Wanda Vázquez to take up the post after weeks of turmoil
4:32PM ( 20 hours ago )
Anxious wait for Puerto Rico as court mulls governorship
Attorneys have submitted arguments in what many consider the biggest decision in the 119-year history of Puerto Rico's Supreme Court: who will be the governor of the U.S. territory mired in political and economic turmoil
5:24PM ( 1 day ago )
Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse kicks off re-election campaign
Ben Sasse of Nebraska kicks off his re-election campaign for US senator surrounded by top Republicans who vouched for the first-term lawmaker as best candidate in the deeply conservative state
8:33PM ( 2 days ago )
AP Online Supreme Court News
Fearing the next AOC, House Democrats hoard campaign cash
House Democratic incumbents are raising money fearing upstarts like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
12:18PM ( 14 minutes ago )
Busloads released after Mississippi immigration raids
Busloads of immigrant workers have been released a day after being detained in the largest immigration raid in a decade in the United States
12:14PM ( 18 minutes ago )
Ivanka Trump to promote women's initiative in South America
Ivanka Trump will call attention to issues that make it difficult for women in developing countries to prosper financially when she travels to South America in September
12:06PM ( 26 minutes ago )
US long-term mortgage rates fall sharply: 30-year at 3.60%
US long-term mortgage rates fall sharply: 30-year average at 3.60%
12:04PM ( 27 minutes ago )
Georgia faces tight timeline for replacing voting system
Georgia election officials have no time to spare as they replace 30,000 outdated voting machines ahead of the presidential primaries
12:00PM ( 32 minutes ago )