New Puerto Rico Governor Names 2 Members to Cabinet

Aug 22, 2019
8:38 AM

Puerto Rico’s Governor Wanda Vázquez, left, holds a press conference where she announces the appointments of Elí Díaz, center, and Zoé Laboy, right, at the governor’s official residence La Fortaleza in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vázquez named two members of her new Cabinet on Wednesday, although the government’s key secretary of state position remains vacant.

Zoé Laboy was appointed as chief of staff, while Elí Díaz was named government representative to the Board of Supervision and Financial Administration for Puerto Rico. Neither position requires confirmation by the U.S. territory’s legislature.

Laboy is resigning from her New Progressive Party senatorial seat and is expected to take on her new role starting Monday. She will participate in some meetings with the governor in coming days.

Díaz has resigned from his position as chairman of the board of governors of the Electric Power Authority, but will continue to lead Puerto Rico’s Aqueduct and Sewer Authority.

Vázquez said at a news conference she is still evaluating possible candidates for secretary of state.

“Obviously the power to appoint a secretary of state lies with the executive branch,” she said. “The candidate will be put forward by me, and in the hope that there is no disagreement, I will talk about it with the (legislative) heads.”

But the new governor said she could not provide a date by which that appointment would be made.

“Candidates are being evaluated,” she said. “I believe that the people of Puerto Rico deserve a person who has an attachment to the needs of the people, who knows and feels the complaints that were voiced in past protests.”

The appointments are being made following the resignation of former Gov. Ricardo Rosselló after two weeks of large street protests this summer over corruption, mismanagement of funds and a leaked obscenity-laced chat. More than two dozen officials resigned in the wake of the leak, including Secretary of State Luis Rivera Marín.

Rivera Marín was briefly replaced by Pedro Pierluisi, who took on the governorship for a few days before the island’s Supreme Court declared his swearing-in to be unconstitutional. Vázquez then became governor Aug. 7.

Laboy was elected to the U.S. territory’s Senate for the first time in 2016 after losing her initial bid four years earlier. She served as secretary of correction and rehabilitation under Gov. Pedro Rosselló, who is the father of Ricardo Rosselló, and she previously expressed interest in serving as mayor of the capital of San Juan. She becomes the island’s fifth chief of staff since 2017.