Thursday, July 18, 2024

Puerto Rico Supreme Court removes Pierluisi and Wanda Vázquez is sworn in as governor

Puerto Rico Secretary of Justice Wanda Vázquez-Garced has been sworn in as the territory’s third governor in a week after the island’s Supreme Court invalidated her predecessor’s appointment.

As secretary of justice, Vázquez was next in line for the governorship behind Pedro Pierluisi, the then-secretary of state who was left in power when former Gov. Ricardo Rosselló stepped down last Friday. But Pierluisi’s appointment was invalidated yesterday by the supreme court, which ordered him to step down by 5 p.m.

Vázquez said shortly after the ruling that she was prepared to take over as governor and was sworn in later in the day. “I wish much success to the Honorable Wanda Vázquez-Garced as Governor of Puerto Rico. I remain available to further any initiative to improve the quality of life of our people and to ensure that the federal government fulfills its responsibility of providing the assistance that Puerto Rico needs for its recovery and reconstruction,” Pierluisi said in a statement.

Vázquez is the second woman to occupy the post, after Sila María Calderón governed from 2001 to 2005. Vázquez faced corruption allegations in 2018 while serving as Rosselló’s secretary of justice and briefly stepped down from office, however she was reinstated her after she being cleared of any wrongdoing.

Puerto Rico’s politics have been in turmoil since protests forced the resignation of Rosselló and then-Secretary of State Luis Rivera Marín, setting off a succession crisis. Rosselló named Pierluisi his secretary of state, but Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz derailed a planned vote in the Senate to confirm the nomination, setting the stage for the court case that invalidated Pierluisi’s governorship.

Although Vázquez is slated to run out the rest of Rosselló’s term, a report in El Nuevo Dia said a deal is in place for Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González-Colón (R) to take over as secretary of state and then governor. González-Colón said the choice is up to Vázquez and the heads of the legislature’s two chambers; “I’ll support whoever they name,” González-Colón said.