Puerto Rico Bungles Gubernatorial Succession

Pedro Pierluisi is sworn into office as the 13th governor of Puerto Rico,
but is he the legitimate heir to the job? /
La Fortaleza

Puerto Rico has a full-on constitutional crisis on its hands following the resignation of Ricardo Rosselló. The wrong person has assumed the governorship, subverting the laws of succession and assuring that the matter will wind up in court.

Whether voters like or dislike any of the candidates in line for the governor’s job, the law wasn’t followed.

Political parties don’t matter. Partisanship doesn’t matter. Personalities don’t matter. Only Puerto Rico’s constitution matters, and it points to Secretary of Justice Wanda Vázquez as the legitimate governor.

Why? Because Pedro Pierluisi, the former resident commissioner who was sworn in as governor on Friday, had not been confirmed as secretary of state, who is next in line for the governorship.

Pierluisi is an unvetted recess appointee. Nothing more. And even he recognized the fact in a declaration after being sworn into office.

He was confirmed by the House but his appointment has not been taken up by the Senate, as required. That is due to happen next week. Thus, the governorship should have gone to Vázquez, whether she wanted it or not. She then would have been in a position to nominate a secretary of state and guide that person through the confirmation process, after which Vázquez could have resigned.

This would have followed the letter and spirit of Puerto Rico’s constitution. Instead, Pierluisi got the dedazo. Rosselló wanted to make sure his man Pierluisi was in. Rosselló was not leaving the question of succession up to Vázquez, who appears to agree.

The issue is one of advise and consent, and the succession fiasco is nearly guaranteed to land on the steps of the Puerto Rico Supreme Court.

After nearly two weeks of demonstrations during which Puerto Ricans demanded the resignation of Rosselló because of corruption and obscene chats, the people of Puerto Rico should not allow Rosselló to get away with his bungling of this.

It’s been reported that Rosselló’s father, former Gov. Pedro Rosselló, upon leaving office at the end of his second term said, “Here, you deal with this mess” or words to that effect.

The constitutional crisis now before Puerto Rico appears to be Ricardo Rosselló’s way of saying the same thing. “Here, my dear.” And we wonder why Puerto Ricans continue to migrate to Florida. #Norespect

˜˜María Padilla, Editor

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