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Wanda Vázquez Garced initially denied the position of governor because of calls she faced for her own resignation. Photo: Xavier Araujo/AP.
Wanda Vázquez Garced initially denied the position of governor because of calls she faced for her own resignation. Photo: Xavier Araujo/AP.

Puerto Rico gets third governor in week

Former Secretary of Justice Wanda Vázquez Garced was sworn in late Wednesday afternoon. A week ago, she didn’t want the position.

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It seems like Puerto Rico can’t catch a break. Late Wednesday afternoon, Wanda Vázquez Garced was sworn in as Puerto Rico’s third governor in a week.  

The past three weeks have been some of the most historic in the island’s history, as two weeks of massive protests brought the resignation of its governor, Ricardo Rosselló. 

The disgraced public official, who resigned on Aug. 2, appointed then-acting Secretary of State Pedro Pierluisi to the governorship. 

Pierluisi had replaced Luis Rivera Marín, who like Rosselló, was a participant in the leaked private chat of Puerto Rican public figures that contained racist and misogynist messages towards both political enemies and the island’s most vulnerable.

The leak of the messages is what kick-started the massive public outrage over the last three weeks.

Marín resigned on July 16, and Pierluisi was appointed his replacement on July 31. He held the position for two days before Rosselló tapped him for governor. 

The only problem: Pierluisi was never more than the acting Secretary of State, meaning he never received confirmation for the post from Puerto Rico’s House and Senate, which were on recess during the crisis.

Thomas Rivera Schatz, president of Puerto Rico’s Senate and an opponent of Rosselló within his own New Progressive Party, brought the issue of Pierluisi’s lack of confirmation to Puerto Rico’s Supreme Court.

Mid-day Wednesday, the court ruled Pierluisi’s appointment unconstitutional in a unanimous decision.

The move refocused the spotlight back on Vázquez, who was initially next-in-line for the position, but turned down the offer amid calls for her own resignation.

She’s faced backlash in the past for not opening investigations into corrupt members of her own party and last year, intervened on behalf of her daughter in a burglary case. Vázquez also initially described Rosselló’s actions as “incorrect,” but not illegal.

“Puerto Rico needs certainty and stability,” Vázquez said in a statement released to Twitter on Wednesday night.

Others in the political sphere are skeptical of her commitment. Political analyst Mario Negron Portillo told CNN that the process was “a joke.” 

“In a matter of a couple of weeks, Puerto Rico has had three governors. Nobody knows what time it is. Honest to God. The economy is standing still because nobody knows what’s going to happen. Who wants to invest… in Puerto Rico if you don’t know who’s going to be governor next week? This is a crazy house right now,” he said.

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