It’s been 21 days since Ricardo Rosselló was forced to resign as governor of Puerto Rico. Slow-building protests across the island-nation culminated in historical national protests. Without the constant visible unrest, the island and its activities have fallen from the top of the headlines. That doesn’t mean things have been quietly or happily resolved. In the past three weeks there has been more political theater that leaves people questioning what’s next. Here’s a recap of what’s been happening in Puerto Rico and what will mark its political future.
Pedro Pierluisi becomes new governor. For a week.
On August 2, 2019 Pedro Pierluisi became secretary of state the same day Rosselló resigned. This cleared the way for him to take the governor’s seat based on order of succession. Subsequently, he was quickly sworn in as governor. His term lasted just five days. The island’s Supreme Court determined that Pierluisi’s confirmation to be unconstitutional. Why? Because it required confirmation by both the Senate and Congress. As a result, he could not be next in line to become governor.
Pierluisi was Rosselló’s political rival and lost his bid to be governor in 2017. He was also Puerto Rico’s resident commissioner from 2009-2017.
“This is a time when we must all unite for Puerto Rico leaving behind any partisan, ideological or personal agendas..This is a time for unity of purpose for the benefit of Puerto Rico until our people have the opportunity to choose their future leaders in next year’s elections,” Pierluisi said in a statement the day that he stepped down.
Wanda Vasquez Garced Becomes Governor
The Secretary of Justice in Rosselló’s administration is appointed and sworn in as governor. With several offices being vacant, Vasquez was next in line to ascend to the position. She is the island’s third governor in just one week. Despite sharing on Twitter that she had no interest in taking on the role of governor, she accepted her duty. “It is with great humility and commitment that I assume the position to direct the destiny of our country, with responsibility and delivery. I will continue to focus on regaining the direction of our people in an orderly and peaceful way,” said Vasquez in a public statement released just after she took her oath of office.
She is already facing an uphill battle. As a member of Rosselló’s administration she is seen as part or the old guard and way of doing things. There were reports of protesters outside the governor’s mansion hours after she was sworn in. The hashtag #WandaRenuncia has been circulating since speculation she would take office were announced.
She will serve out the rest of Rosselló’s term through the end of the year. She has stated she has no interest in political office and won’t run for her position in the next election in 2020.
Vasquez has already appointed new cabinet members and is vowing to fight political corruption. She will be reviewing contracts that were signed under Rosselló. She has said her focus is also on securing recovery funds and handling the islands debt.