Thinking back to one year ago, I can't help but feel goosebumps and remember how happy and accomplished we felt when Puerto Rico's ex-governor Ricardo Roselló resigned. A year ago, we witnessed the power of the people, we rediscovered the meaning of democracy, and we finally acknowledged our right to express how we feel about the decisions being taken by the government and how our country is being led.
A year ago, Puerto Rico made history by revoking the governor from his position for the first time ever in political history. As it's known, the ex-governor seemed to be involved in a tremendously sketchy and shady Telegram chat that, after being exposed by the media, proved to the Puerto Rican people how corrupt and negligent our government truly could be. That was the spark that quickly started the rioting and manifestations all over the Island during the summer of 2019.
After Roselló abandoned La Fortaleza, leaving vacant the most important seat of power in Puerto Rico, many wondered who was the most eligible candidate to take the stand. Since many members of the government cabinet had recently resigned as well, the options were clearly limited. At the end, it narrowed down to Pedro Pierluisi, current candidate for governor for the New Progressive Party (better known by its initials in Spanish, PNP) during this fall’s elections, and Wanda Vázquez, who at the moment of the protests last year was the Secretary of Justice. Vázquez initially refused to take the position, claiming she didn't want to be involved, leaving Pierluisi the chance to make a move.
Later, after days of debating who was supposed to take the position, Pierluisi became the emerging governor, but only to last just a few days. He was revoked from the position due to his naming being unconstitutional, according to the law. Afterwards, due to the fact that she did not currently occupy any other official position, Vázquez became the new governor of Puerto Ricoー a position she has held since August 7, 2019 up until today. Contrary to what she expressed in the past about her feelings about being governor, she ran a campaign for governor for this year's elections, but lost to Pierluisi as a result of the now controversial summer primary elections.
Since the beginning of Wanda Vázquez’s rise to power, tons of crises have struck Puerto Rico, including January’s phenomenon of multiple earthquakes and the global COVID-19 pandemic. The incompetent handling of several national emergencies has inevitably put Vázquez’s decisionmaking in the national spotlight. During January’s emergency, an intriguing scandal came to light. It revealed how the governor allowed hurricane Maria relief aids to be withheld until officials were ready to distribute them in front of cameras to take advantage of the situation for the PNP’s political campaign.
When citizens found out about the scandal, they started opening up the warehouses where all the first aid supplies were being kept. In between tears, desperation and frustration, all the people asked was: “why?”
Knowing how the people living in the south of Puerto Rico had been terribly affected, needing to live under tents on the floor, with limited water and food, all while, nearby, there were these whole warehouses filled with exactly what they needed? Why would someone prevent these people from getting the aid they needed on time? Recently, an investigation was initiated, involving the governor and other officials, such as senator Evelyn Vázquez Nieves, who was assigned last month to a Special Independent Prosecutor (FEI, in Spanish) alongside Wanda Vázquez.
During the months following that case, this issue has barely been acknowledged by the local media since the FEI report was leaked, as well as the Telegram chat scandal, which seems to be fading away. It’s been a year and the Puerto Rican people have seen zero consequences of the information revealed in the chat, which included some serious allegations worthy of further investigation.
Wrapping up, I can only conclude that Puerto Rico did accomplish some good getting rid of Roselló, but we cannot ignore the fact that it didn't solve all of our problems. I would like to look back at that revolutionary event as the beginning of so much more that we need to do as a society. Corruption is still the main course on the menu, negligent decisions are still being made each day, and the only solution we can all hope for is to do the right thing and vote consciously during the upcoming 2020 elections. Remember that the future of Puerto Rico rests on our shoulders.