Rosselló Nevares Designates First Cabinet Positions
SAN JUAN — Puerto Rico Gov.-elect Ricardo Rosselló Nevares announced the first five appointments to his cabinet Monday, headed by William Villafañe as the next Fortaleza Chief of Staff and Ramón Rosario as Fortaleza Public Affairs Secretary.
During a press conference held at the Antiguo Casino in Old San Juan, Rosselló Nevares also announced that Itza M. García Rodríguez will be assistant chief of staff, a new position that will oversee the management of public policy under the Governor-elect’s “Plan for Puerto Rico” and which also absorbs some of the responsibilities from the public affairs secretary seat.
Rosselló Nevares also appointed Alfonso Orona Amilibia as the governor’s chief legal advisor and Elías Sánchez Sifonte as the government’s new representative before the fiscal oversight board.
“These are the first designations that represent the main framework [of the incoming administration]. They will have the huge responsibility of making sure that the objectives can be achieved. For me, it is a privilege to present these men and women to you… They are highly qualified people. I want you to see the team that will fight in all fronts for Puerto Rico. I have carried out this appointment process personally,” said Rosselló Nevares after the announcement.
The Governor-elect indicated that since the beginning of his campaign, he went a different route when gathering his work team.
“The responsibility of this work team is in my hands as governor. They have my full support and they have an extraordinary talent because apart from youth, they also have the experience. They are committed to Puerto Rico,” he said.
The new chief of staff immediately thanked the Governor-elect and said he will lead the team in accordance to the Plan for Puerto Rico.
“I remain the same person. The people should have complete confidence that the Governor and yours truly, along with our team, will continue working the problems that Puerto Rico faces with the utmost sensibility. We will begin picking up the pieces to build the new Puerto Rico that the people voted for,” Villafañe said.
Afterwards, Itza García said that she will continue being honest and simple in her new position, while Rosario, the new Secretary of Public Affairs, said he was honored by the designation and was ready to face the challenges of the government.
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“These are not moments of celebration. We have a lot to work to do and many challenges ahead. As you have seen in the transition hearings, what lies ahead is not an easy road, but I have no doubt that together with the governor and this team, we will push Puerto Rico forward, “said Orona.
On the other hand, Elías Sánchez—who was formerly the campaign director of Rosselló Nevares and current president of the incoming government’s transitional committee, and who was rumored to become Fortaleza Chief of Staff—said that he will defend Puerto Rico’s interests above any other matters under his new role as the governor’s representative before the fiscal oversight board.
“We are used to a government where the governor, the Legislative Branch and Executive had the freedom to govern. That scneario today is not the same … We have a board. I guarantee the people of Puerto Rico that I will give it my all to defend the interests of Puerto Rico above any other … There is no doubt that there are many challenges. I know the fight will not be easy but we will work with the board to push Puerto Rico forward,” said Sánchez Sifonte.
The Governor-elect rejected that the appointment of Sánchez Sifonte as a representative in the fiscal oversight board was a last-minute move and pointed out that the best position that can be occupied by his former campaign director is to represent him on the board.
Likewise, Rosselló Nevares clarified that Sánchez Sifonte will not be a government employee, meaning he can continue with his private.
“How do you avoid the potential conflict of interest that may result from the fact that Sánchez Sifonte has privileged access to confidential government information and at the same time is in the private sector and could generate business with said information?”, Caribbean Business asked the Governor-elect.
“In the same way that all members of the Fiscal Oversight Board pass their criteria. They have the highest requirements in terms of ethics, and as soon as I indicated my decision, he began to ask for opinions about what was allowed and not, and I am fully confident that his main objective is the welfare of the people of Puerto Rico and not some personal benefit,” said the Governor-elect on Sánchez Sifonte.
Rosselló Nevares added that he will make new appointments soon but did not specify the date.