Sunday’s Primary Results Were Clear: Puerto Ricans Want Change

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Image via AP Photo/Dánica Coto

By Mivette Vega

August 17, 2020

Gov. Wanda Vázquez lost against Pedro Pierluisi as the candidate for governor of the pro-statehood PNP. In the opposition, Sen. Eduardo Bhatia and San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín lost against Charlie Delgado.

SAN JUAN — A week after the botched election, Puerto Ricans returned to the polls this Sunday, expressing their dissatisfaction with Gov. Wanda Vázquez.

The current governor, who has barely been in office for a year after the resignation of Ricardo Rosselló, lost to her opponent in the Progressive New Party (PNP), Pedro Pierluisi. He received more than 57% of the votes, versus 42% for Vázquez.

Meanwhile, Carlos Delgado, mayor of the northwest town of Isabela for 20 years, was poised to win the nomination of the main opposition Popular Democratic Party (or PPD by its initials in Spanish).

Pierlusi and Delgado will face each other and four other candidates in the general elections of November 3rd.

RELATED: Puerto Rico’s Primaries Did Not Go Well. Here’s What Happened.

In a brief speech, Vázquez said she and her supporters “should abide by the decision of the majority.”

“My call is to leave behind the kind of personal attacks that led to a campaign against me,” she added. “All of us who are pro-statehood must unite to achieve the common good and equity for all Puerto Ricans, which will only come through statehood.” 

Leo Aldridge, a political analyst and lawyer, says Vázquez was affected by the many incidents that came forth during her year of governing.

“Wanda Vázquez’ candidacy was affected by her arrogance, her ignorance of politics, her attempt to intervene with a Department of Justice investigation, her negligence in buying COVID-19 tests, her outbursts against the House of Representatives, her insults to the federal special independent prosecutor, and the dismissal of officials who were doing their job,” Aldrige told The Americano.

RELATED: Gov. Wanda Vázquez Will Be Investigated by an Independent Special Prosecutor

Pierluisi’s victory in the pro-statehood party comes four years after being defeated by former Gov. Ricardo Rosselló in the 2016 primaries. The now-candidate was a former resident commissioner in Washington D.C.

In August 2019, he took the oath as governor after Rosselló’s resignation, but the Supreme Court nullified the oath at the request of Thomas Rivera Schatz, president of the Senate. Velázquez, who was Secretary of Justice at the time, was next in line and was appointed governor.

On Sunday, Rivera Schatz almost lost his Senate seat, after occupying the fifth position in the senator elected-by-accumulation tally.

A desire for new faces

“I think Rivera Schatz had low votes because he was identified as someone who supported Wanda Vázquez,” Alridge said, identifying general trends in the primaries. “All candidates who supported Wanda Vázquez took a political blow, as she has really done a lot of harm to Puerto Rico.”

According to the analyst, the results—in addition to discontent with the ruling party—also reflect a desire for new faces in the political scene.

“To some extent, voters are looking for a change,” he added. “This four-year period of hurricanes, pandemics, earthquakes, chat rooms, crimes, and corruption—they want to leave it behind.”

Within the Popular Democratic Party (PPD by its initials in Spanish) the victory of Isabela Mayor Charlie Delgado over Senator Eduardo Bhatia and San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz is also seen as a sign of people wanting change.

“The PPD chose a mayor who has been in office for 20 years, but who has managed to project himself in the campaign as someone new to politics,” Aldrige said.

Corruption and problems with missing ballots

Yesterday’s voting process was the second round for the primaries after a failed attempt on Sunday, August 9. Delayed and missing ballots forced the cancellation of the primary voting process for the first time in the island’s history.

Corruption is one of the critical situations affecting Puerto Rico in recent years.

On Monday, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents arrested representative María Milagros Charbonier along with her husband Orlando Matos, their son, and an employee.

According to El Vocero, Charbonier is accused of theft of federal funds, money laundering, obstruction of justice, wire fraud, and honest-services fraud.

READ MORE: Boricuas Won’t Back Down From Fighting for the U.S. Postal Service

Charbonier has been the target of a federal investigation for several weeks. She allegedly participated in a kickback scheme (a bribe in exchange for services) linked to employees of his office.

The representative was not re-elected in the primaries. Until recently, Charbonier served as president of the local ethics commission.



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