Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Pedro Pierluisi Takes Oath as Governor of Puerto Rico

By on January 4, 2021

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Gov. Pedro Pierluisi greets his family from the balcony of his office in the Throne Room of the La Fortaleza executive mansion. (Courtesy)

SAN JUAN — Gov. Pedro Rafael Pierluisi Urrutia’s administration began Saturday with the signing of six executive orders after being sworn-in that morning by Puerto Rico Chief Justice Maité Oronoz.

In a formal ceremony after his swearing in, Pierluisi called on the island legislature’s leadership to “work as a team” to effectively address the challenges facing the island.

Pierluisi recognized that the will of the people at the polls was for diverse leadership in both legislative chambers.

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi takes the oath for a second time during the formal ceremony in front of the Capitol while his father holds the Bible. (Courtesy)

“We are going to play as a team again, because that is what Puerto Rico needs,” he said.

“The new government and the new legislature will be an example of our diversity. The five different parties and independent legislators will reflect our new political and social reality. Fate put me here in the midst of these turbulent and historic times. Faced with great polarization and with high expectations. I trust that God will give me the wisdom I need to guide Puerto Rico to safe harbor,” Pierluisi said.

The new governor, who had about 400 people gathered with some physical distancing on the stage at his ceremony, stressed that he will fight against the true enemies of Puerto Rico, which he identified as: COVID-19, poverty, lack of access to a good education, crime, economic recession, corruption, discrimination and the colonial status of Puerto Rico.

“We have overcome a lot and we have many challenges ahead. We suffered the ravages of major hurricanes, unexpected earthquakes and a global pandemic. But Puerto Rico is not daunted. Our people are resilient and caring. And together we always move forward,” he assured.

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Gov. Pedro Pierluisi is accompanied by the leaders of the majority in the Senate, José Luis Dalmau (left) and of the House, Rafael “Tatito” Hernández (right). (Courtesy)

At the end of the ceremony, he moved with his family to La Fortaleza, the governor’s place of work and home, where he signed six executive orders.

The first orders the Department of Health to design a massive coronavirus testing campaign to guarantee their availability in remote or difficult to access areas.

“It is necessary for the government to make greater efforts to carry out tests and identify infections; therefore, the Department of Health, with the advice of epidemiologists, is ordered to carry out massive testing campaigns and educational campaigns that result in the identification of cases of infection,” the governor said. “The design of this campaign must ensure that the tests reach remote or hard-to-reach areas so that everyone has the opportunity to receive them,” the order reads.

The second order mandates the Department of Justice and the Department of Public Safety to establish a memorandum of understanding with the U.S. attorney for  Puerto Rico to address corruption and other crimes.

“Corruption in public service is one of the main social ills that damages people’s trust in their institutions. This administration has an inescapable commitment to strengthen the institutions of public order and that they have strong and adequate tools to eradicate corruption, white collar crime and criminality in general. A frontal assault is declared against corruption and crime, the Department of Public Safety and the Secretary of Justice are ordered to begin immediately and coordinated conversations with the federal prosecutor for the District of Puerto Rico in order to establish, amend or improve any collaboration agreement for the prosecution of corruption or white collar crimes,” the executive order reads.

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Secretary of State Larry Seilhamer signs the executive orders decreed by Gov. Pedro Pierluisi from the executive’s desk in the Throne Room in La Fortaleza. (Courtesy)

The third order decrees fiscal responsibility and spending measures in the executive branch.

“This Order declares that this government is committed to maintaining spending control measures while we are responsible with the people’s resources,” Pierluisi said. The executive order keeps previously established fiscal control measures, but does not increase them so the agencies can function.

Executive Order 2021-04 prohibits spending on official photos of the governor and heads of agencies in government facilities. 

“Our administration will reflect the priorities of our people, so there is no need to be publishing and investing people’s money in official frames and photos,” he said.

Finally, executive orders 2021-05 and 2021-06 establish the structure and organization of the Office of the Governor and designate Carmen Salgado as administrator of the Office of the Governor, respectively.

See the executive orders here (in Spanish).

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House and Senate lawmakers also took their oath of office Saturday ahead of the first legislative session, which begins, by constitutional order, on the second Monday of January.
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Gov. Pedro Pierluisi is sworn in by Puerto Rico Chief Justice Maité Oronoz. He is accompanied by his sister Caridad Pierluisi. (Courtesy)
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Former Gov. Alejandro García Padilla greets Pierluisi before the swearing-in ceremony. (Courtesy)
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Outgoing Gov. Wanda Vázquez and her husband, Judge Jorge Díaz Reverón, greet Pierluisi. (Courtesy)
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Pierluisi crosses the gate of La Fortaleza for the first time after being sworn in. (Courtesy)
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Governor Pedro Pierluisi with his grandchildren and the dog they gave him for Christmas. (Courtesy)