The Associated Press
FILE – In this Jan. 16, 2018 file photo, then Puerto Rico Justice Secretary Wanda Vazquez answers reporters’ questions, in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Vazquez is to become Puerto Rico’s new Governor after Gov. Ricardo Rossello said, Wednesday, July 24, 2019, that he is resigning Aug. 2 after weeks of protests over leaked obscene, misogynistic online chats. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti, File
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP):
The woman who is supposed to replace Puerto Rico’s embattled governor announced yesterday that she doesn’t want the job as the U.S. territory reels from political crisis.
Justice Secretary Wanda Vázquez said in a Twitter post that she hopes Gov. Ricardo Rosselló will appoint a secretary of state before resigning August 2 as planned.
Former Secretary of State Luis Rivera Marín would have been next in line as governor, according to the U.S. territory’s constitution. But he is one of more than a dozen officials who have resigned in recent weeks since someone leaked an obscenity-laced chat in which Rosselló and close advisers insulted people including women and victims of Hurricane Maria.
Rosselló on Wednesday announced that he would step down following nearly two weeks of massive protests amid anger over the chat, corruption charges against several former government officials and a 13-year recession. In the chat, the 40-year-old Democrat and son of a governor called a female politician a “whore”, referred to another as a “daughter of a bitch”, and made fun of an obese man with whom he posed in a photo.
Rosselló became the first governor to resign in the modern history of Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory of 3.2 million American citizens. He is more than halfway through his four-year term.
Marín’s resignation had left Vázquez as next in line to be governor. But she said she has already told Rosselló about her wishes not to get the job, creating a chaotic scenario about who will be Puerto Rico’s next leader.
If Rosselló choice for a secretary of state is not approved by the island’s House and Senate, Puerto Rico’s law dictates the treasury secretary would be next in line if the justice secretary doesn’t become governor. But current Treasury Secretary Francisco Parés is too young at 31 years old. The constitution dictates the person would have to be at least 35, so that would leave interim Education Secretary Eligio Hernández next in line. He replaced former education secretary Julia Keleher, who resigned in April and was arrested July 10 on federal corruption charges. She has pleaded not guilty.