Who Will Be Puerto Rico’s Next Governor, And Will Protesters Approve?

Puerto Rico’s embattled governor, Ricardo Rosselló, has resigned, but the island’s residents who forced him out are wary of insiders who could replace him.

By Jill AmentJuly 26, 2019 7:07 am

Texans with ties to Puerto Rico are taking to the streets in solidarity with protesters in San Juan, where demonstrators turned out in the hundreds of thousands this week to protest Puerto Rico’s Gov. Ricardo Rosselló. Roselló finally acceded to their demands, and will resign on Aug. 2. But Puerto Rico still faces uncertainty about who will succeed him. Puerto Rico’s Secretary of Justice, Wanda Vázquez, is next in line, but protesters oppose her.

Nick Brown is a Reuters journalist who’s been reporting from Puerto Rico, and says the trouble for Rosselló began when members of his cabinet were arrested on corruption charges. The scandal escalated as hundreds of text messages between the governor and members of his inner circle were leaked. The texts disparaged members of the LGBTQ community, as well as political supporters and opponents. Protesters took to the streets to demand his resignation.

“As members of his staff resigned, one by one, and it became clear he was losing the support of his party, he eventually had no choice,” Brown says.

Vázquez is associated with Rosselló, and Brown says she has faced corruption charges in the past.

“There’s a lot of negotiations behind the scenes right now, between party leaders, as to who is going to succeed him,” Brown says. “They’re hoping to appoint a secretary of state that would take over when [Rosselló] leaves. It’s unclear who that’s going to be.”

Brown says a source has told him that Puerto Rico’s former representative in the U.S. Congress, Pedro Pierluisi, would accept the job. 

“The concern with him is that he is a lawyer in the private sector, and currently works with the Puerto Rico [Financial] Oversight [and Management] Board, which would not play well on an island where folks really resent federal oversight.”

Brown says it isn’t clear what exactly the protesters wanted besides Rosselló’s ouster, especially after he leaves office.

“It’s easier to oust one governor than an entire system,” he says.


Written by Shelly Brisbin.