Ruling Puerto Rico Party says it hasn’t negotiated tenure of Gov. Vázquez
Resident commissioner: Elected officials ‘have a greater responsibility’ than those in office due to a constitutional mandate
SAN JUAN — After five hours of a conclave with the majority of the mayors and legislators of Puerto Rico’s ruling New Progressive Party (NPP), Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz concluded he will not negotiate with Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced any designation or tenure in office.
“Nothing is going to be negotiated. We are the elected government of Puerto Rico, we represent the elected majority. We have the moral authority to make claims as members of the NPP. Attorney Wanda Vázquez is the governor because I took the case to court. The secretary of Justice could have filed the [legal] recourse and decided not to do so. Today she occupies the office of the governor because the Senate decided to defend the Constitution,” Rivera Schatz said.
The Senate president assured he will not request Vázquez’s resignation but hopes Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón will become the governor of Puerto Rico through her nomination as secretary of State.
“We are not planning a war with anyone. I think it prudent to make changes. We propose the resident commissioner to be the figure that is in charge, that it be an elected person to solve in the White House the problem that [former Governor] Ricardo Rosselló created when he offered a punch to President Donald Trump. Wanda Vázquez got to the governor’s office by constitutional provision, not by anyone’s vote,” he added at Thursday’s press conference.
In the conclave with the NPP leaders, 28 of the 33 pro-statehood mayors, 21 of the 34 representatives affiliated with the party and 17 of the 20 NPP senators were present.
Rivera Schatz said 99% of the attendees supported González to be nominated as secretary of State and become the governor of Puerto Rico with an eventual departure of Vázquez.
“Our hope is that the efforts of the resident commissioner, who already identified and achieved an allocation of funds, that we now achieve that those funds arrive at their destination correctly as soon as possible. That was what we discussed at the meeting. We are not going to ask anyone to resign. We are going to listen to her [Vázquez]. We have a responsibility as the elected leadership and we will not negotiate. She called us and we are going to go and listen to what she has to say.”
The House speaker said he is interested in knowing Vázquez’s positions with regard to the NPP government platform.
“I have spoken with the governor, and the [Senate] president and I are going to meet with her to maintain that sincere and frank dialogue,” Méndez simply said.
Meanwhile, the resident commissioner explained that Thursday afternoon’s meeting was to discuss the steps to follow to ensure that the federal funds allocated by Congress reach Puerto Rico.
“As figures elected by the people, we all have a greater responsibility than those who hold the position due to a constitutional provision. Stability and credibility must be returned to Puerto Rico. Events that have occurred since the federal arrests [for corruption] hurt the trust and have affected the disbursement of federal funds. It is important that there be a direct effort with the White House but we have to have agency heads who are dedicated to improving communication and redoubling efforts,” González stressed.
—Follow Limarys Suárez on Twitter @Limarys_Suarez