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High-Ranking Member of Puerto Rico Republican Party Resigns

By on February 1, 2016

SAN JUAN – Héctor Ramos Díaz, who for decades occupied various positions in the Puerto Rico Republican Party (PRRP), including as legal adviser, resigned in mid-January after disagreeing with recent party decisions concerning the financing of the U.S. Republican presidential primaries on the island, Caribbean Business learned.

Before his resignation, Ramos Díaz was calling for the State Elections Commission (CEE by its Spanish initials) to disburse the funds the PRRP was requesting to carry out the presidential primaries in Puerto Rico, slated for March 6. The former PRRP legal adviser wanted the party to sue the Puerto Rico government to force the CEE to comply with electoral law and assign the funds, which total nearly $900,000.

Ramos Díaz’s resignation to all of his positions within the PRRP was made effective Jan. 17, after PRRP Chairwoman Jenniffer González and other party leaders disregarded Ramos Díaz’s recommendations to demand a guarantee from the government to fund the presidential primaries.

In a letter sent to González, Ramos Díaz objected to the party’s recent decision to replace the traditional primary process on the island to a series of “open caucuses by precinct,” which are slated to cost about $300,000, a fraction of what traditional primaries would cost. The party implemented the caucuses through a ruling approved during an assembly held in Yauco, on the island’s southwestern region. In the letter, Ramos Díaz also criticized the party’s decision not to sue the CEE to demand funds for the primary.

In response, González cataloged the development as “ancient, medieval history,” adding that all of the PRRP’s components approved the ruling toward implementing caucuses. With regards to the primaries, she said suing the government to demand close to a million dollars in primaries does not favor anyone, particularly since an agreement was reached to spend only $300,000 in public funds for the event.

Former Puerto Rico legislator Ángel Cintrón became the PRRP’s new legal adviser, replacing Ramos Díaz.

“Under the fiscal situation that the Puerto Rican people are going through, [Ramos Díaz] wanted to claim $894,000 for the Republican primaries, and I think that such actions do not go in accordance to the current reality. I believe the Puerto Rico government must do more with less and I decided to carry out the process with $300,000, while he wanted a million. This led to a huge disagreement between us,” González noted.

Under the caucuses’ model, 110 voting centers will be opened on primary day to choose the 20 delegates to the Republican Convention, slated for June 18-21 in Cleveland, Ohio; by contrast, about 3,500 voting centers were opened in the 2012 Republican primaries in Puerto Rico. Joining the 20 delegates will be three superdelegates, which in this case will consist of party Committeewoman Zoraida F. Fonalledas, National Committeeman and former Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuño, and González herself as chairwoman.

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