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Puerto Rico government in “constitutional crisis” amid search for new governor


Well, we are currently at the brink of a constitutional
crisis here in Puerto Rico. As you just mentioned, in just four days,
Ricardo Rosselló’s resignation will become effective, and the people of Puerto Rico still
don’t know who’s going to be his replacement. The Legislative Assembly in Puerto Rico has
failed to step up to its leadership, particularly within the statehood party, who is the party
that the governor currently belongs to. And unfortunately, they don’t seem to be
hearing the message the people of Puerto Rico have been screaming loud and clear, that we’re
not only asking for Rosselló’s resignation. We’re looking to end corruption here in
Puerto Rico. And that means that whoever is going to be
the substitute to Ricardo Rosselló has to be a candidate that comes out of the consensus
with the people of Puerto Rico. And could you talk about the justice minister,
Wanda Vázquez, and why many of the protesters are unhappy even about the possibility that
she will be the successor? Her record as the justice minister in terms
of not even investigating or prosecuting potential corruption in relationship to the aid that
was sent from the United States to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria? They’re both cut from the same cloth. When it comes to Wanda Vázquez, she has failed
to fulfill her constitutional duties as secretary of the Department of Justice. In my case particularly, a lot of the corruption
that has been signaled out and called out in the now famous Telegram chat, I had been
pointing out for the last two-and-a-half years. I had referred all of that corruption to Wanda
Vázquez and the Department of Justice since at least November of 2017—$40 million or
$50 million in government contracts to the governor’s publicist, the relationship and
the conflict of interest with Elías Sánchez, the governor’s best man at his wedding,
his campaign manager and his representative of the fiscal control board. I mean, so many examples of things that had
been pointed out. The evidence had been provided to Wanda Vázquez
and the Department of Justice, and she just continued to become silent, and she was complicit
to all of this corruption. So, she’s obviously inhabilitated to become
the next governor of Puerto Rico, and that creates a void and a constitutional crisis
here in Puerto Rico, that unfortunately the statehood party has not been willing to show
its leadership and hear the people of Puerto Rico. And why has it been—why it’s been so difficult
for the governor to name a successor or even for the statehood party leaders to sort of
agree on an interim caretaker governor? Isn’t it part of the problem that a lot
of them are jockeying to actually run for governor next November? That’s correct, Juan. We have two situations unfolding here. One is that a lot of the possible substitutes
to the governor are also involved in the same corruption scandals that led to the governor
having to resign. The other situation is that there are a couple
of individuals that are looking to put themselves in the best situation towards 2020 and towards
running for governor themselves, particularly Thomas Rivera Schatz, who’s the president
of the Senate, and he’s a member of the statehood party, and Jenniffer González,
who’s currently the resident commissioner of Puerto Rico in Washington, D.C. During that battle, the people of Puerto Rico
have become hostage to the statehood party, because since they’re not able to come together
with a solution for a short term so Puerto Rico can finish this term in peace until the
next general elections, the people of Puerto Rico have become hostage of these backroom
negotiations that are taking place within the statehood party, and we have been put
in a level of uncertainty that, like I mentioned before, we’re four days away from the governor’s
resignation becoming effective, and we literally don’t know who’s going to be the next
in line to take in place. And not only that, there are so many negotiations,
bills that are being signed into law, people that are being put in strategic positions
during this transition process that we don’t know about. And the governor is not showing face to the
people of Puerto Rico. He is doing all of this governing of his last
days in office behind closed doors, not engaging with any sort of conversations with the press. So we’re right now in a very, very dark
position.

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