- After embattled Puerto Rico governor Ricardo Rosselló announced his resignation, the woman named as his successor, Secretary of Justice Wanda Vázquez, began facing heat from protesters.
- Critics claim Vázquez deliberately delayed investigations into members of her own party, improperly intervened in a case involving alleged theft of government property, and didn’t prioritize the needs of women on the island.
- In tandem with the trending hashtag #RickyRenuncia, calls for Vázquez’s resignation began trending on Twitter under the hashtag #WandaRenuncia.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Ricardo Rosselló, the embattled sitting governor of Puerto Rico, announced his impending resignation from office on Wednesday night. Though he doesn’t leave office until August 2, his named successor, Secretary of Justice Wanda Vázquez, is already facing heat from protesters.
In tandem with the trending hashtag #RickyRenuncia, calls for Vázquez’s resignation began trending on Twitter under the hashtag #WandaRenuncia.
Massive protests, which began two weeks ago after the leak of Rossello’s misogynistic and homophobic text messages, resumed the day after he announced he was stepping down from office. But this time, they were aimed at Vázquez.
"I was here until about 2 a.m., and when they said through the megaphone that Wanda would be the one to take over, everybody started saying ‘No’ and immediately started yelling, ‘Wanda resign,’" Yomarili Rosa, who protested Wednesday outside La Fortaleza, the governor’s mansion, told USA Today.
Rosselló said he would step down from his position by 5 p.m. local time on August 2. Per the line of succession in Puerto Rico, the next-in-line should technically be the Secretary of State Luis Rivera Marín. However, Marín resigned on July 13 after the Center of Investigative Journalism (CPI), an investigative news outlet in Puerto Rico, published 889 pages of messages between Marín, Rosselló, and other officials revealing lewd exchanges about women and mocking their constituents.
Vázquez, who would become the island’s second female governor, responded to the release of the messages, saying in a statement that she recognized "the frustrations and pressures of the day-to-day can be expressed in an incorrect way within the privacy of a friendship."
"I have to express the deep regret this causes me as a woman, as a mother, as a professional and as a citizen of this beautiful island," she continued in the statement. She was not among the 11 top aids that exchanged profanity-laced messages with Rosselló about other politicians, the media, and celebrities.
Here’s why people are protesting Vázquez:
She was accused of dragging her feet on an investigation into questionable licensing of medical marijuana clinics in Puerto Rico. She responded via Twitter on Thursday, saying that the issue is "currently under active investigation" by her department.
"The interpretations that were published today correspond to vicious attacks that seek to attack our integrity," Vázquez said in the statement posted to Twitter, which was originally written in Spanish. "The interpretation that has been given to these matters is false and defamatory."
SOURCE: USA Today
She was criticized for delaying investigations into members of her own party, the New Progressive Party.
When Vázquez became secretary of justice, she faced criticism for not being aggressive enough in investigating corruption within the New Progressive Party, of which she and Rosselló are both members.
"There are documents coming out now showing she did not investigate," school teacher Miriam Melendez told USA Today. "She was not ethical."
However, her office did lead a probe into the office of Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz following allegations of corruption. The investigation resulted in the federal indictment of a senate official for submitting fake invoices at the benefit of Rivera’s political allies.
What then ensued was a heated public battle between the justice secretary and senate president, where, at one point, Rivera called Vázquez "the secretary of nothing," the New York Times reported.
Vázquez was charged for improperly intervening in a case involving her daughter and son-in-law after an alleged theft of government property occurred in their home. She was later cleared due to lack of evidence.
Joe Raedle / Getty Images
A complaint was filed against her with Puerto Rico’s Office of Government Ethics. Prompted by his public disapproval of the justice secretary, the Office of the Independent Special Prosecutor, which Rivera is believed to run, launched an investigation following the complaints.
The probe, which took place last November, looked into allegations that the justice secretary had improperly intervened in a case involving her daughter and son-in-law, in which a suspect stole government property from their home, CBS News reported.
While Vázquez was indicted and appeared in court on charges including two violations of a local government ethics law, the judge found that there was not enough evidence to arrest her. She became the first secretary of justice to face criminal charges, according to El Nuevo Día, a daily publication in Puerto Rico.
Vázquez’s husband also came under legal scrutiny at one point when it became known that he also meddled in the case, but he was cleared of any ethical violation.
- Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló resigns as mass protests over profane text messages force him from office
- Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló is expected to resign after his leaked text messages prompted massive protests on the island
- 26 photos show thousands of Puerto Ricans filling a highway, dancing, and riding on horseback to drive Gov. Ricardo Rossello from office in what is likely the island’s biggest protest ever