Historic Resignation in Puerto Rico Leads to Questions About Government’s Future

Jul 25, 2019
11:03 AM
Originally published at Latin America News Dispatch

Demonstrators celebrate after the resignation message of the governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rossello in front his mansion known as La Fortaleza in San Juan, on July 24, 2019. (Photo by Ricardo Arduengo/AFP/Getty Images)

PUERTO RICO: After weeks of facing public furor, Ricardo Rosselló announced last night that he would resign from his post, becoming the first governor to step down in the history of modern Puerto Rico. Current Secretary of Justice Wanda Vásquez will assume the gubernatorial role on August 2, even though she’s also facing protests and allegations of misconduct. Hundreds of protesters gathered until late at night in front of La Fortaleza, the governor’s residence, where heavy police presence was reported. Before the late-night statement, the Puerto Rican legislature had already given an ultimatum to the beleaguered governor: resign, or impeachment proceedings begin.

The impeachment proceedings are still set to begin today.



U.S.-MEXICO BORDER: A new controversial restriction on asylum received contradicting rulings from two federal judges yesterday. In the afternoon, U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly in D.C. denied a request for a temporary restraining order after saying that the immigrant groups that filed the lawsuit “did not show that their work would be irreparably harmed” if the policy moved forward, according to the Associated Press.

Hours later, U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar in San Francisco blocked the Trump administration from enforcing the new policy. Judge Tigar’s injunction halts the policy implementation while the lawsuit plays out in court. The proposal submitted by the Trump administration prevents most migrants at the southern border from seeking asylum in the U.S. if they passed through another country first.

U.S.-MEXICO BORDER: A new “massive” shelter for migrants returned from the U.S. will be opened in the border city of Tijuana. The facilities will be occupied by individuals who are waiting to hear back with an adjudication date in the U.S. Mexico has reportedly accepted over 20,000 Central American migrants as part of the “migrant protection protocol,” also known as the ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy. Asylum officers from both countries have heavily criticized such initiative, arguing that it threatens people’s lives. 

MEXICO: Following a closed-door session yesterday, Baja California’s state legislature has agreed to extend Governor Jaime Bonilla Valdez’s mandate from 2 to 5 years. The move has prompted national criticism, alleging that Bonilla Valdez, a member of President Andrés Lopez Obrador’s Morena party, is attempting a power grab to perpetuate himself in power. AMLO has distanced himself from the case, noting that the National Action Party (PAN) holds the majority of seats in the state’s legislature. A PAN press release said that the extension in Baja California is “a rehearsal” before attempting to extend the mandate at a federal level.


HAITI: President Jovenel Moïse nominated Fritz William Michel to succeed Jean-Michel Lapin as Haiti’s Prime Minister. Michel, a former executive in the Ministry of Economy and Finance, faces the tough task of restoring public confidence in Haitian leadership. Michel will be President Moise’s fourth head of government in his two-and-a-half years in office.


GUATEMALA: In a striking discrepancy with President Donald Trump, Kevin McAleenan, Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, said that migratory collaboration with Guatemala had “already yielded significant results.” McAleenan’s message yesterday contradicts Trump’s threats of retribution against Guatemala for failing to ratify the ‘safe third-country’ agreement. Yesterday, Trump doubled down on his threats, saying that the White House is “looking into something very severe with respect to Guatemala.”


PERU: In a pioneering project of inmate rehabilitation, Peru has selected a group of prisoners to learn and play classical music with members of the national symphonic orchestra in Lima. The government’s goal is to create a symphony for the Peruvian bicentennial, to be celebrated in 2021. Among other rehabilitation initiatives that Peru’s penitentiary system has introduced are salsa lessons and fashion design for inmates.


CHILE: After an 8-year trial, a court ruled that Codelco, the state-owned copper giant, will not be required to continue funding the Chilean military. Over 61 years, the world’s largest copper miner had to redirect 10 percent of its revenues to the armed forces. President Sebastián Pinera, who spearheaded the bill and is expected to sign it into law in the coming days, had said it was “absurd” that the strategic spending of Chilean army was affected by a fluctuating copper price.

PARAGUAY: The government plans to develop the sparsely inhabited Chaco region into a regional transport hub. Paraguay has likened the proposal to a “latter-day Panama Canal,” as the $2 billion infrastructure project seeks to connect Chilean and Brazilian ports with a ‘bio-oceanic highway.’ The semi-arid Chaco is an agricultural region that produces beef, dairy, and soybeans, which has led the government to believe that the annual value of goods transported through the area would triple, reaching $5 billion in five years.

BRAZIL: The northeastern state of Pernambuco has been hit by heavy rains and flooding that have caused 11 deaths. The local fire department has confirmed that six people are missing in the state capital of Recife and the towns of Olinda and Abreu e Lima. In less than 24 hours, Recife received 25 percent of the monthly rainfall average for July. Meteorologists report that the state of Rio Grande do Sul is expected to face intense precipitation today.