Puerto Rico swore in its third governor of 2019, Wanda Vázquez Garced, on Wednesday after the removal of Pedro Pierluisi.
Vázquez is the third governor after the resignation of elected governor, Ricardo Rosselló, and the removal of his chosen successor, Pedro Pierluisi, by the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico. The trouble began after group chats between Rosselló and his staff were made public, disclosing misogynistic behavior including potentially advocating violence against rival Puerto Rican politicians including Mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulín Cruz. Rosselló was pressured to resign through widespread public demonstrations, but attempted to choose a successor by appointing Pedro Pierluisi as Secretary of State, a position that would supersede Vázquez’ position as Secretary of Justice, just minutes before departing office. Pierluisi was then sworn in as governor because the legislature was not in session to confirm his appointment. This led to a lawsuit from Puerto Rico’s Senate to remove him.
The Supreme Court ordered legal briefs Tuesday on the case. The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Wednesday that Pierluisi’s investment as governor was unconstitutional as the statute that allowed for his succession was itself unconstitutional because it did conform to the Senate’s Constitutional Powers. Pierluisi resigned after the release of the Supreme Court’s ruling and Vázquez was then sworn in. This should hopefully end the succession crisis, but Vázquez has faced criticism herself as a result of allegations of corruption and worries over how she might address gender violence.