Politics

Puerto Rico set to get its third governor in less than a week

Key Points
  • Puerto Rico will get its third governor in less than a week on Wednesday just hours after the bankrupt U.S. territory's supreme court ruled that Pedro Pierluisi's assumption of the office was unconstitutional.
  • In a unanimous decision, the nine-member high court nullified Pierluisi's governorship based on the fact his earlier appointment as secretary of state and next in line for governor had not been confirmed by both chambers of the legislature.
  • Pierluisi, who has not commented on the ruling, has said previously he would abide by the supreme court's decision, which set a 5 p.m. local time deadline for him to leave office.
Pedro Pierluisi, nominee for Puerto Rico secretary of state, center, speaks during a news conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Friday, Aug. 2, 2019.
Xavier Garcia | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Puerto Rico will get its third governor in less than a week on Wednesday just hours after the bankrupt U.S. territory's supreme court ruled that Pedro Pierluisi's assumption of the office was unconstitutional.

Justice Secretary Wanda Vazquez will be sworn in as governor at 5 p.m. local time at the supreme court in San Juan, according to an advisory from the governor's office.

In a unanimous decision, the nine-member high court nullified Pierluisi's governorship based on the fact his earlier appointment as secretary of state and next in line for governor had not been confirmed by both chambers of the legislature.

Pierluisi, who has not commented on the ruling, has said previously he would abide by the supreme court's decision, which set a 5 p.m. local time deadline for him to leave office.

Vazquez, who last week initially expressed an unwillingness to assume Puerto Rico's top government office, said on Wednesday she will assume the governorship under the succession plan in Puerto Rico's constitution.

"Puerto Rico needs certainty and stability," she said in a statement.

The high court's ruling followed weeks of political turmoil in the bankrupt U.S. territory, where Governor Ricardo Rossello, left office last Friday in the wake of days of protests demanding he resign.

Offensive chat messages between Rossello and his closest allies and federal corruption charges against two former members of his administration sparked the protests, which drew around a third of the island's 3.2 million people to the streets.

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Puerto Rican celebrities including Residente, Bad Bunny and Ricky Martin join demonstrators during a protest calling for the resignation of Governor Ricardo Rossello in San Juan, Puerto Rico July 22, 2019.
Marco Bello | Reuters
Key Points
  • Puerto Rico's next governor, who will fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Ricardo Rosello, faces an uphill fight to restore the island's battered economy and reverse an ongoing diaspora.
  • Many of those challenges stem from a single underlying issue: Puerto Rico is suffering from a prolonged bout of out-migration, affecting its ability to respond to its financial and economic crises effectively.
  • The decline in population has been driven mainly by a dearth of economic opportunity, as Puerto Rico's economy failed to join the wider U.S. recovery following the Great Recession.