Puerto Rico governor reacts to statement from congressional adviser
SAN JUAN – During a press conference at his office, La Fortaleza, on Tuesday, Gov. Ricardo Rosselló had a message for Congressman Rob Bishop (R-Utah), the chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources, which oversees U.S. territory matters: “I urge you to read the letter I sent you.”
The governor was referring to a 14-page letter he sent Monday, in which he speaks of Bishop’s “indifference” to the Constitution of Puerto Rico.
Carlos Mercader, the executive director of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration (PRFAA), said Tuesday that the Promesa federal law prevents the Financial Oversight and Management Board (FOMB) from dictating the public policy of the Government of Puerto Rico.
The PRFAA director made the statement after a spokesman for Bishop reportedly said that “the punitive way the board can enforce is through budget cuts,” were the government to refuse to implement structural reforms.
The governor reacted at the press conference to questions from reporters regarding the remarks from Bishop’s adviser and said: “I hope that the Committee [House Committee on Natural Resources] will not make the mistake of simply—because they see that in Puerto Rico we do not have voting representation in Congress—try to do this in a jurisdiction and exercise brutal power in that way.
“I guarantee you that, in none of the 50 states, Rob Bishop or any of the other congressmen would have dared to do this. They would not have dared,” Rosselló reiterated.
According to a release, the PRFAA director was surprised that Bishop communicated via a spokesperson who asked to remain anonymous.
Mercader stated that “the Administration of Governor Ricardo Rosselló has been committed from day one to implement structural reforms that reduce government spending and operate a more efficient government. Nonetheless, the Financial Oversight and Management Board cannot usurp the powers of the elected Government of Puerto Rico by dictating public policy.
“Besides, Governor Rosselló has always been available to dialogue with the Financial Oversight and Management Board and guarantee transparency throughout the process of filing and certifying fiscal plans; the statement of Congressman Bishop is therefore unjustified,” he added.
“In his letter, Governor Rosselló made clear the invitation for the congressman to respect the spirit of the federal PROMESA Act that prevents the Financial Oversight and Management Board from usurping the powers of the elected Government of Puerto Rico; and to adopt a balanced position among the different stakeholders, which are the People of Puerto Rico and the creditors. The People of Puerto Rico and the Puerto Ricans who live in other jurisdictions in the United States are paying attention and that seems to bother the congressman,” Mercader said.
Rosselló said in his letter to Bishop that a provision that empowered the FOMB to “impose recommendations to the objection of the Government of Puerto Rico” had been eliminated.
Mercader stressed that the governor was clear Tuesday when he said that “to try to come now and infer a series of powers that were explicitly removed from the drafts (of the federal PROMESA Act) is a very dangerous exercise in democracy.”