Puerto Rico’s justice secretary, who is supposed to replace the US territory’s scandal-hit governor when he steps down this week, has announced that she does not want the job as the island’s political crisis deepens.
Wanda Vazquez said in a Twitter post on Sunday that she had informed Governor Ricardo Rossello, adding that she hoped he would appoint a secretary of state before resigning on August 2 as planned.
Former Secretary of State Luis Rivera Marin would have been next in line as governor, according to the US territory’s constitution.
But he is one of more than a dozen officials who have resigned in recent weeks since the publication of obscenity-laced chat messages in which Rossello and close advisers insulted people including female politicians and victims of Hurricane Maria.
Rossello on Wednesday announced that he would step down following nearly two weeks of massive protests amid anger over the leaked chat, corruption charges against several former government officials and a 13-year recession.
In the chat, the 40-year-old Democrat and son of a governor called a female politician a “whore”, referred to another as a “daughter of a b****”, and made fun of an obese man with whom he posed in a photo.
Marin’s resignation had left Vazquez as next in line to be governor, but her statement on Sunday exacerbated uncertainty about who would be Puerto Rico’s next leader.
“This is crazy,” political analyst Mario Negron Portillo told The Associated Press news agency.
“We have no idea what’s even going to happen tomorrow. Societies cannot live with this type of uncertainty.”
Protesters had opposed Vazquez, saying she was too close to the disgraced governor.
On Friday, Vazquez said there was a lot of misinformation but that she could speak publicly about certain cases.
“The vicious attacks on my personal and professional integrity continue,” she said. “The desire and agenda of some to try to undermine my credibility at this moment of transcendental importance to Puerto Rico and to destabilise the governmental order is evident.”
Aimara Perez, a 32-year-old who participated in the recent demonstrations, said she did not want Vazquez as governor.
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“We’re going to keep protesting,” she said. “It’s not going to stop. If there is evidence of corruption, the people are going to push ahead without fear, and we’re going to get rid of them all.”