Puerto Rico set for political clash over next governor
Send a link to a friend
[August 01, 2019]
SAN JUAN (Reuters) - Puerto Rico's
political crisis risked deepening on Thursday as lawmakers and street
protesters opposed the Washington corporate lawyer tapped to replace
disgraced Governor Ricardo Rosselló.
A day before Rosselló was set to resign over offensive chat messages
that sparked mass protests, some members of his party vowed to reject
his chosen successor, Pedro Pierluisi, largely over conflict of interest
Hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans took to the streets to demand
Rosselló quit after the leaked messages unleashed rage over suspected
administration corruption, slow recovery from 2017's deadly hurricanes
and the U.S. territory's bankruptcy.
Rosselló called a special session of Puerto Rico's legislature on
Thursday for lawmakers to vote on Pierluisi as secretary of state, and
therefore next in line to succeed him.
Members of Rosselló's New Progressive Party (PNP) said Pierluisi's role
as a lawyer for law firm O'Neill & Borges advising the federally created
financial oversight board directing Puerto Rico's bankruptcy
disqualified him for the job.
Street protesters accused Pierluisi of serving the interests of Puerto
Rico's political elite, not the people's, in helping establish the
widely-disliked board when serving as the island's delegate to the U.S.
Congress, then representing it as a lawyer.
Pierluisi released a statement saying he had "listened to the people's
messages, their demonstrations," and he would "only answer to the
The speaker of Puerto Rico's House of Representatives, Carlos Méndez
said he favored Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz, also of the PNP,
as secretary of state over Pierluisi, citing the lawyer's role at
O'Neill & Borges.
[to top of second column]
Rep. Pedro R. Pierluisi (D-PR), addresses delegates during the
second session of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte,
North Carolina, September 5, 2012. REUTERS/Jason Reed
Mendez suggested Pierluisi did not have the votes in the lower house
to be confirmed.
But in a sign of divisions, several PNP legislators including
Yashira Lebrón and Luis Perez Ortiz told newspaper El Nuevo Dia they
And Ramón Luis Rivera, PNP mayor of Puerto Rico's second-largest
city Bayamón, threw his weight behind the 60-year-old former
"It's time to put Puerto Rico FIRST and end the uncertainty we're
engulfed in," Rivera tweeted. "Let's give the governor's nominee,
Pedro Pierluisi, a chance."
The island's legislature will convene at 2 p.m. to consider the
nomination, with Pierluisi needing a majority of votes to be
(Reporting by Luis Valentin Ortiz and Camilo Cohecha in San Juan,
Nick Brown in New York and Karen Pierog in Chicago; Writing by
Andrew Hay; Editing by Grant McCool)
[© 2019 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2019 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Thompson Reuters is solely responsible for this content.