Wanda Vázquez becomes Governor of Puerto Rico
After a tumultuous six days, Puerto Rico Secretary of Justice Wanda Vázquez Garced (NPP, D) has become the Governor of Puerto Rico, following a unanimous Supreme Court of Puerto Rico ruling that found Pedro Pierluisi’s (NPP, D) swearing in as governor after Ricardo Rosselló’s resignation to be based on an unconstitutional law. Vázquez is now Puerto Rico’s second female governor in its history, and the third person occupying the role in six days, following the crisis spurred by the Telegram chat scandal.
The Supreme Court of Puerto Rico issued an Opinion in the case Senado de Puerto Rico v. Hon. Pedro Pierluisi, in which it unanimously determined that the portion of the law of succession added by Act 7-2005 allowing the Secretary of State to become Governor without confirmation from both legislative chambers is unconstitutional. Associate Justice Hon. Rafael L. Martínez Torres delivered the Opinion of the Court which concluded that the oath of office of Governor Hon. Pedro R. Pierluisi Urrutia is unconstitutional.
With the ruling coming into effect at 5:00 pm EST, Pedro Pierluisi delivered a farewell message, pledging to continue helping and serving the people of Puerto Rico in any capacity he can. With Vázquez’ accession to the governorship, Puerto Rico has seen 3 different governors in less than week.
Amid all this uncertainty are reports from El Nuevo Día, the US territory’s largest newspapers, that upon taking office, Vázquez would then nominate Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González-Colón (NPP, R) to become Secretary of State of Puerto Rico. Upon González-Colón’s confirmation, Vázquez would then step down as governor, allowing the newly confirmed secretary of state to assume the office of governor. This would effectively mean that Puerto Rico would see four different individuals acting as governor in a matter of weeks. Should González-Colón end up as governor, this would mean that all of Puerto Rico’s top leaders in the executive and legislative branches would be part of the Republican Party, likely signifying a shift to the right in terms of public policy, and ties with the administration of President Donald Trump (R).
Atendiendo los medios de comunicación de Puerto Rico tras el fallo unánime del Tribunal Supremo relacionado a la juramentación de un Gobernador. pic.twitter.com/XcSWSM2qjZ
— Johnny Méndez (@JohnnyMndez36) August 7, 2019
In the meantime, reactions poured in reaction to the court’s ruling, from everyone including Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz (NPP, R), House President Johnny Mendez (NPP, R), and Resident Commissioner González-Colón.
As of publishing time, there had been no hard confirmation of the reports suggesting González-Colón would end up eventually as governor, beyond statements from Rivera Schatz indicating that she would be the ideal person for the job. Even with Vázquez’ swearing in, Puerto Rico’s leadership crisis is still far from over.