Meet Wanda Vázquez: The Woman Who Turned Down The Job As Governor Of Puerto Rico

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Who Is Wanda Vázquez? New Details On The Woman Taking Over As Governor Of Puerto Rico

After week of protests and a general strike on the island of Puerto Rico, the scandal ridden governor Ricardo Rosselló  announced that he will resign effective August 2nd. Rosselló and many others came under fire when a source leaked 900 pages of texts that included misogynistic and homophobic remarks, as well as inappropriate statements about the victims of Hurricane Maria. The texts, in addition to other allegations and evidence of corruption in the government led multiple people to quit, including, finally, Rosselló.

Now the next person in line to be governor is the secretary of justice Wanda Vázquez. However, even she comes with a history of scandal and while it's not clear if the people of Puerto Rico are behind her, that doesn't matter anymore because she turned down the job. 

Who is Wanda Vázquez? Read on for all the details.

1. Texts

Tensions in Puerto Rico have been rising since the governor and his allies, many of whom have since resigned, were the subject of a massive dump of text messages. A person with access to their messages using the app Telegram sent almost 900 pages of communications between Rosselló and his associates to the media this week. The messages included jokes in poor taste about victims of Hurricane Maria, homophobic slurs about singer Ricky Martin, attacks on opposition politicians and misogynistic insults directed toward San Juan mayor Carmen Cruz, who was considered likely to run against Rosselló in 2020, according to the Independent.

Puerto Ricans took to the streets.

2. Protests

Puerto Ricans took to the streets this week to demand the resignation of a man who seemed to belittle them. After days of marches and a general work stoppage the governor finally announced he would step down effective August 2nd. Rosselló’s former secretary of education and five other people have also been arrested on charges of steering federal contracts to unqualified cronies.

A week of protests led to Rosselló's resingation. 

3. Line of succession

At this point, the next person in line for the governor’s job is secretary of justice Wanda Vázquez. She is on deck after other resignations in the govenrment, including U.S. territory's CFO Christian Sobrino and Secretary of State Luis G. Rivera Marín, as CBS News reports. She has said she is ready to serve if necessary but it’s not clear if she will ever get the job.

Vázquez says she is ready to serve as governor.

4. Part of the problem

Vázquez brings her own baggage to the post and protestors may not want her running the island any more than they wanted Rosselló to stay in the job. “She is, I would argue, in the eyes of the Puerto Ricans who have mobilized, in the same league as Ricardo Rosselló in terms of not being acceptable to lead the island because of her past,” Luis Martínez-Fernández, a history professor at the University of Central Florida, told Time magazine. “This includes some decisions she has made to not go forward with some cases and also because she is unpopular.”

Her record includes heading up the office of women’s affairs, which would seem like it should give her credibility with women but her tenure there was considered by some to be ineffective.

5. Past record

“A lot of feminist groups were very critical of Wanda Vázquez,” Saadi Rosado of the Feminist Collective, told The New York Times. “She failed to address gender violence issues and was another piece of government bureaucracy.”

Gender based violence on the island has been on the rise and advocates have been asking the governor to declare a state of emergency to address the problem. Neither Rosselló or Vázquez has been responsive to these requests. Despite attempts raise the issue with the adminsitration, even staging a sit in at a the governor’s office, “She has not even spoken out about this state of emergency that we have been asking for a year,” Ms. Rosado said.

Feminist groups may not support her.

6. Personal influence

Vázquez was also briefly suspended from her job as secretary of justice last year while she was investigated for ethics violations. She was accused of improperly intervening on behalf of her daughter and son-in-law after items had been stolen from their home. The case was considered a criminal matter, the first to be brought against someone in her position. She was ultimately cleared f the charges and reinstated, a move that was considered controversial at the time, the New York Times reports.

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A hashtag asking her to resign is making the rounds.

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7. Feud

Another situation that makes her ascension to the governor’s seat questionable is her fraught relationship with Thomas Rivera Schatz, the president of the Senate. She had opened an investigation into allegations of corruption in his office, leading to a federal indictment against another Senate official over financial crimes that would have benefitted Senator Rivera and his allies. Rivera might have had influence into the opening of the investigation of Ms. Vázquez as retailiation for her role in his own scandal.

7. She said no thanks

On Sunday, July 28th, Wanda Vazquez rejected the job via Twitter. She asked Rosselló to appoint another candidate instead. She wrote: "I reiterate, I have no interest in occupying the position of Governor. It is a Constitutional opinion. I hope that the Governor identifies and submits a candidate for the position of Secretary of State before August 2 and I have told him so." 

The former Secretary of State Luis Rivera Marín would be next in line to fill the governor's seat, however, he was one of the over a dozen politicians who resigned on July 13 in the scandal that caued Rosselló to lose his job. 

Vazquez's tweet on Sunday came as Puerto Ricans demanded she step down due to her position in the political crisis. After she was named Rosselló's successor, the Twitter hashtag #WandaRenuncia meaning #WandaResign started to trend.

This is a developing situation and no one can be sure yet what will happen.

Rebekah Kuschmider has been writing about celebrities, pop culture, entertainment, and politics since 2010. Her work has been seen at Ravishly, Babble, Scary Mommy, The Mid, Redbook online, and The Broad Side. She is the creator of the blog Stay at Home Pundit and she is a cohost of the weekly podcast The More Perfect Union.