Welcome to The Americano’s live blog focused on Puerto Rico’s 2020 gubernatorial race. This blog will be updated daily with news on the candidates, their policies, and the Puerto Rican electoral process.
Counting Early Ballots is Off to a Rough Start in Puerto Rico
Tuesday, Oct. 27, 3:15 p.m. EST
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO—The State Elections Commission (CEE by its Spanish initials). began counting thousands of early and absentee votes in the Administrative Board of Absentee and Early Voting (JAVA by its Spanish initials), situated in the Coliseo Roberto Clemente, and had to stop the process shortly after commencing because of a lack of organization.
Héctor Sánchez, New Progressive Party (PNP by its Spanish initials) electoral commissioner, told El Vocero that minority parties including the Popular Democratic Party (PPD by its Spanish initials), did not have the number of electoral officials required for a balanced counting to take place.
“That’s why weeks ago we urged [minority parties] to consider strategies and designate the staff that is required—currently we have an unfilled position,” Sánchez said. “We [at the PNP] have our staff, and I am concerned that others want to continue delaying the process [of counting the votes] because there is no balance.”
Later on Monday, Francisco Rosado Colomer, president of the CEE, confirmed the vote count will resume today.
“Unlike previous times, the volume of votes JAVA will be processing during this count is significantly higher than usual,” Rosado said in a written statement. “It was necessary to reevaluate logistics and give more precise instructions to the officials.”
Candidates for San Juan Mayor Accuse Each Other While Defending Their Proposals
Monday, Oct. 26, 1:30p.m. EST
The five candidates for Mayor of San Juan participated in their sole electoral debate Sunday, October 25th.
Candidates Miguel Romero of the New Progressive Party (PNP, by its Spanish initials), Rossana López of the Popular Democratic Party (PPD by its Spanish initials), Adrián González of the Puerto Rico Independence Party (PIP, by its Spanish initials), Manuel Natal Albelo of Movimiento Victoria Ciudadana (MVC), and Nelson Rosario of Proyecto Dignidad (PD) answered questions on topics including San Juan’s infrastructure and their plans for the city’s economic development.
The debate had its tense moments, mainly because of remarks from candidates toward Romero. For instance, López demanded an apology from him for the dismissal of 30,000 public employees under Governor Luis Fortuño’s Law 7 of 2009. The law declared a state of financial emergency and allowed the governor to restructure public employment in ways that would be illegal in normal circumstances.
PIP candidate González said Romero will execute the recommendations of the contentious Fiscal Control Oversight Board, a federal government initiative that manages the island’s public finances.
On his part, MVC candidate Natal also condemned Romero, saying he was one of the politicians who voted in favor of restructuring the debt of the Puerto Rico Government Development Bank, at a cost of $140 million to the capital city.
“There are people who because of their political party aspirations are willing to take out both eyes from the people of San Juan, while taking out another from the municipal administration,” Natal said.
Romero categorized the criticisms as “fantasy” and told PPD candidate López a few times how she remained silent in the face of the “disaster” caused by her party affiliate and incumbent San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz.
Later that Sunday night, Bad Bunny tweeted his endorsement of Natal, posting “San Juan goes with Manuel Natal.” This is the reggaeton singer’s first endorsement of a candidate in the upcoming elections.
MVC’s Natal said during the first 100 days of his administration he will address issues concerning roads, parks, green areas, and disused or abandoned communities.
Puerto Rico Candidates for Governor Will Debate Tonight, on the Home Stretch to the Election
Thursday, Oct. 22, 5:45p.m. EST
This evening, Puerto Rico will also be holding its last political debate before the election with candidates for the governor’s seat sparring over questions from journalists.
The event, Debate decisivo, will be broadcast from 6 to 8 p.m. by Telemundo and live-streamed via telemundopr.com and the TelemundoPR app.
For about two hours, the six candidates for governor will tackle topics including economic development, the coronavirus, corruption, and the island’s political status.
The participating candidates are Pedro Pierluisi of the New Progressive Party (PNP, by its Spanish initials), Charlie Delgado of the Popular Democratic Party (PPD), Juan Dalmau of the Puerto Rico Independence Party (PIP, by its Spanish initials), Alexandra Lúgaro of Movimiento Victoria Ciudadana (MVC), Dr. César Vázquez of Proyecto Dignidad (PD), and independent candidate Eliezer Molina of Movimiento de Conciencia (MC).
Journalists Luis Guardiola from Telemundo, Rubén Sánchez from WKAQ-AM, and Joanisabel González from El Nuevo Día will be asking the questions.
Each candidate will have a 30-second opening message and one minute to answer each question.
Several unions and social groups have been protesting since about 4 p.m. in front of Telemundo’s headquarters in Hato Rey. The protestors are raising awareness on issues mostly concerning education.
Court Orders Rivera Schatz To Publish Senate Employee Salaries
Wednesday, Oct. 21, 4:45p.m. EST
The Puerto Rico Court of First Instance ordered Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz to make public a list of legislative employees’ salaries. Eva Prados, Chamber of Representatives candidate from the Movimiento de Victoria Ciudadana (MVC) party, served a mandamus order to the court after a failed attempt by the Senate to update the information on its site in August.
The information on the list reveals there are subordinates who may earn more than legislators.
For example, Senate Secretary Manuel Torres Nieves earns $10,500 per month, more than Rivera Schatz’s monthly salary of $9,221.92.
Senate Vice President Henry Neumann, spokesperson Carmelo Ríos, and alternate New Progressive Party (PNP by its Spanish initials) majority spokesperson Ángel “Chayanne” Martínez earn $7,070.08 per month, as do minority spokespersons Eduardo Bhatia and José Luis Dalmau—both from the Popular Democratic Party (PPD by its Spanish initials)—and Juan Dalmau from the Puerto Rico Independence Party (PIP by its Spanish initials). All other senators earn a monthly salary of $6,147.92.
The list also revealed there are nearly 20 advisers and employees who earn more than legislators. For instance, per month, Alicia Álvarez Esnard, director of legislative advisers, earns $9,000; Manuel Vélez Lacomba, sergeant-at-arms, $8,000; María Dolores (Lolín) Santiago, former electoral commissioner, $8,500; and Carmen Feliciano, director of the Senate Office of Federal Affairs, $13,730.
PPD Denounces Possible Fraud Scheme in Luquillo
Tuesday, Oct. 20, 5:10 p.m. EST
Members of the Popular Democratic Party (PPD by its Spanish initials) reported a possible fraudulent voting scheme after a deceased person appeared as an applicant requesting an early-vote mail-in ballot in the Luquillo municipality.
PPD Sen. Aníbal José Torres and Luquillo Mayor Gerardo “Gerry” Márquez asked the PNP mayoral candidate, Luis Rodríguez, and his electoral commissioner, Jan Febo Cabrera, for explanations after the findings.
Torres and Márquez showed documents at a news conference as evidence of their claim, which could prove a possible fraud scheme that could be happening in the State Elections Commission (CEE by its Spanish initials).
The officials requested for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to look into the matter.
Apparently, the deceased person is Febo Cabrera’s aunt, Evelyn Cabrera Becerril, who died last year in the state of Oklahoma.
According to records, Febo Cabrera’s sister, Lyanne Febo Cabrera, also appears as if she requested to vote early by mail despite being a Texas resident. On her Facebook account, she posted about exercising her right to vote in the [continental] US, which would preclude her vote on the island.
The PPD representatives presented evidence that someone requested an early vote using Cabrera Becerril’s name at the Permanent Registration Board of Luquillo in September.
The deceased woman resided in the Paisajes del Lago neighborhood in Luquillo, where her nephew, Febo Cabrera, currently lives.
In the electoral register, the commissioner appears as residing in another neighborhood, the same one appearing in his sister’s early-vote request.
“This is an act of corruption, and this public servant has a ministerial duty to defend democracy in the municipality,” Márquez said. “What happened in Luquillo could be happening in any part of the island.”
PIP and PPD Candidates for Governor Share Additional Details of Their Proposals
Monday, Oct. 19, 1:00 p.m. EST
Juan Dalmau, Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP by its Spanish initials) gubernatorial candidate, told El Nuevo Día he will decree a moratorium on the construction of shopping centers outside urban centers, if he wins the elections.
The candidate also promised to eliminate some of the government’s economic development agencies, as well as the Discover Puerto Rico destination marketing organization (DMO), which replaced the Puerto Rico Tourism Company in promoting the island as a travel spot.
Dalmau’s purpose is to create agencies that fulfill the mission of promoting business activity on the island, and for companies to contribute 10% of revenue across the board to taxes.
On Sunday, Charlie Delgado, the Popular Democratic Party (PPD by its Spanish initials) candidate, clarified his government program by emphasizing his intention of eradicating corruption.
“The great enemy of the Puerto Rican people is government corruption, and the impunity that corruption has been experiencing,” Delgado said in a virtual assembly.
The PPD candidate explained that the four pillars of his plan are facilitating a participatory, transparent government; decentralizing public services; providing technology for all; and detecting and preventing corruption.
General Election Ballots Are Ready
Friday, Oct. 16, 2:10 p.m. EST
The ballots for the upcoming Puerto Rico general election have been printed.
José Santana, manager of Printech, the company that printed the ballots, confirmed that the printing of 11.8 million ballots was ready before the promised deadline of Oct. 24.
“Being able to finish the work order 11 days ahead of schedule reiterates the Commission’s commitment to the electorate and the Puerto Rican people,” Francisco Rosado Colomer, CEE president, said in a written statement.
A shortage of ballots affected the primaries in August, leading to thousands of voters having to go to polling sites on two dates.
That situation raised doubts as to whether the general election would actually take place on Nov. 3, and led to the resignation of former CEE president Juan E. Dávila. Rosado replaced him.
Three of Puerto Rico’s Candidates for Governor Support Biden
Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020, 12:05p.m. EST
Pedro Pierluisi, the New Progressive Party (PNP by its Spanish initials) candidate for governor, tweeted he considers Biden to have the right vision for the island. He has said the former vice president will treat Puerto Rico equitably.
Charlie Delgado, the Popular Democratic Party (PPD by its Spanish initials) candidate, said Biden’s proposals align with the local government’s platform. “The vice president’s proposals are very aligned with our government platform on federal affairs,” Delgado told El Nuevo Día. “Vice President Biden shows a commitment to Puerto Ricans, knows us, respects our culture, and is committed to helping Puerto Rico.”
César Vázquez, the Proyecto Dignidad (PD) candidate for governor, also highlighted the ideas Biden is proposing for Puerto Ricans. “He is talking about treating Puerto Ricans with dignity and respect. It seems he copied our words,” Vázquez told El Nuevo Día. “He talks about investing in the future, development initiatives, and family support. We had already talked about that and about many other things that he is mentioning.”
These Are The New Political Parties Challenging The Establishment
Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020, 11:40 a.m. EST
The 2020 elections could mark a new era in the history of Puerto Rican politics. The demographic, economic, and social changes on the island in recent years could have a significant impact on the outcome. In this election, voters can choose between candidates from three new parties, or candidates from the parties that have dominated the island’s politics for decades.
The established parties come with ideologies regarding the political status of the island. The New Progressive Party (PNP, by its Spanish initials), with Pedro Pierluisi as its candidate for governor, is pro-statehood; Charlie Delgado is the gubernatorial candidate for the Popular Democratic Party (PPD), which is pro-commonwealth; and the Puerto Rico Independence Party (PIP, by its Spanish initials) is pro-independence, with Juan Dalmau as their candidate for governor.
These novel parties are Movimiento Victoria Ciudadana (MVC), Proyecto Dignidad (PD), and Movimiento de Conciencia (MC). Respectively, their candidates for the governor’s seat are Alexandra Lúgaro, Dr. César Vázquez, and Eliezer Molina (who is an independent candidate helming a movement he defines as a political party).