Rosselló Says He Will Be ‘Last Governor of the Colony’
SAN JUAN – “I will have the privilege of being sworn in as the last governor of the colony of Puerto Rico and as the first governor of the state of Puerto Rico.”
With these words, Governor-elect Ricardo Rosselló Nevares committed himself to fight for Puerto Rico’s annexation as a U.S. state, as well as pulling the island out of the economic crisis it is currently going through after a decade in recession.
In his first public message as governor-elect, Rosselló Nevares was joined by his family, his wife, Beatriz Areizaga, and leaders of the New Progressive Party (NPP) outside party headquarters in Hato Rey. Rosselló, a university professor, will be Puerto Rico’s 12th governor and will be sworn in 24 years after his father, Pedro Rosselló, was elected governor for his first term.
“The moment of change for Puerto Rico has arrived, of facing the crisis and moving forward. […]. There isn’t any challenge that our virtuous, capable people cannot overcome,” said Rosselló Nevares after thanking those who voted as well as those who didn’t vote for him. He also thanked his team and the other five gubernatorial candidates.
According to Rosselló Nevares, his election is an “unequivocal mandate to tell the world that the transition to statehood has started,” and which he will promote through the Tennessee Plan, as he has mentioned before.
He promised to initiate a “transparent” government transition and to enter into direct dialogue with the Fiscal Oversight and Management Board to begin the renegotiation of the island’s public debt, estimated at $70 billion.
Focused on renegotiating the debt
Meanwhile, during a press conference after delivering his victory speech, the governor-elect reiterated his willingness to work with Promesa’s fiscal board and said he would soon reveal who his representative in the body will be.
As for Puerto Rico’s debt, Rosselló said he will negotiate transparently with the island’s creditors, adding that he will meet them at a conference on the island during his administration’s first 100 days.
“In the renegotiation, everything is on the table…. Let’s sit down with [the creditors] under Puerto Rico’s real situation and present them with a plan that will benefit the people of Puerto Rico and, of course, guarantee them some return on their investment. Yes, we have said there is a potential of deferring [debt] payments, of cuts to principal; these are things that are going to be renegotiated, but only with transparency and clarity,” Rosselló stressed when asked by Caribbean Business.
Regarding the support achieved by independent gubernatorial candidates Alexandra Lúgaro and Manuel Cidre, the NPP leader ruled out that this represents an attack on his party and stated that since he began to develop his plan for Puerto Rico, he thought of “a new way of governing.”
Rosselló added that he will analyze what happened at the municipal level. While the NPP dominated the gubernatorial and legislative elections, the Popular Democratic Party retained a majority of the island’s municipalities.