Five weeks ago, Wanda Vázquez Garced refused to become the next Governor of Puerto Rico.
“Not me!” she declaimed. “Find someone else!”
Then someone escorted her up Mount Quarantania, and Vázquez changed her mind.
On August 7, 2019, Vázquez was sworn in as the 187th Governor of Puerto Rico…
And in five short days, she evolved from a terrified civil servant to a spinmeister par excellence.
Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced
On Sunday August 11, Gov. Vázquez found a tiny sacrificial lamb and heaved it toward the bloodthirsty mob. She cancelled a $450,000 contract between PREPA (the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority) and Stantec, a Canadian consulting company.
The very next day, Monday August 12, Gov. Vázquez announced that she “might” declare a “state of emergency” with respect to violence against Puerto Rican women.
Both of these announcements are facially proactive: showing that this governor is a serious lady!
She tackles government corruption and macho murderers, all within a 24-hour news cycle!
And that is precisely the problem…because almost immediately, Gov. Vázquez has shown her method of non-governance: 1) find easy targets, 2) grab quick and easy headlines, 3) create the appearance
of action, 4) conduct this “action” in emotionally charged policy areas (i.e. domestic violence), and
5) make it difficult, preferably impossible, for anyone to track or gauge your results.
TWO QUICK ANNOUNCEMENTS
Consider these two “proactive” announcements by the new governor.
PREPA is currently in debt for $9 billion. After Hurricane Maria, it entered a massive $300 million “power restoration” contract with a company named Whitefish, which had only three employees.
Fortunately this contract was cancelled, but PREPA currently has many multi-million dollar “restoration contracts,” and a massive $1.8 billion in contracts with Mammoth Energy Services’ subsidiary Cobra Acquisitions, which are under federal investigation.
While serving as Secretary of Justice…did Vasquez investigate the Whitefish contract, the multi-million dollar contracts, or the $1.8 billion deals with Cobra?
Is she investigating them now, as governor?
Instead, she picks a relatively miniscule contract with a Canadian company, in order not to ruffle any US feathers. She then promises an “in-depth review” of all outstanding PREPA contracts, despite her complete inaction on any of them during her tenure as Secretary of Justice.
In addition, during her twenty years as a district attorney in the Puerto Rico Dept. of Justice, Vázquez never prosecuted, investigated, or even discussed PREPA’s purchase of poisonous sludge oil…
Or PREPA’s falsification of lab reports…
Or PREPA’s Ponzi scheme of municipal finance…
Or PREPA’s $36.7 million dollar contract with Lisa Donahue for a “financial restructuring” which never occurred.
But now as governor, she is an energy crusader…rooting out a whopping $450,000 in Canadian fraud!
Her “possible” declaration of a “state of emergency” regarding violence against women is equally facile and convenient. As a district attorney, Vázquez handled domestic violence cases, so she now draws on this career platform. But what exactly does a governmental “state of emergency” mean?
When asked if it meant municipal curfews, a revised penal code, added law enforcement, workplace monitoring, domestic violence hotlines, a public education campaign and/or curricular reform, she ignored all of these and simply stated: “We will evaluate our resources and alternatives, to see what our agencies can do.”
Vázquez knows that the Financial Control Board will not allow her to expend funds or resources in any new areas, including this one. But since she can’t declare a war or pursue weapons of mass destruction, she “might” declare a “state of emergency” on violence against women. Then she’ll visit crime scenes, console victims and grab more headlines.
WANDA “LEANS” TOWARD THE REPUBLICANS
Barely one week later, on August 20, Gov. Vázquez told El Nuevo Dia (the island’s largest newspaper) that she hopes to meet with Donald Trump, and that she “leans” toward the US Republican Party.
This is the party that passed the PROMESA bill, and sent a Financial Control Board to Puerto Rico.
The party that blocked any Chapter 9 bankruptcy relief – so that Puerto Rico could not question or re-negotiate its “debt” to Wall Street vulture funds.
The party which – after Hurricane Maria – slapped an additional 12.5% export tax on many products from Puerto Rico.
The people of Puerto Rico are desperate for new solutions and a new destiny.
But in the end, after weeks of demonstrations and millions of people marching, they ended up with the same old politics: a career hack with no intention of discussing, let alone challenging, the deeper economic and political issues that have plagued their island for over a century.
That would require a leader.
For a history of the War Against All Puerto Ricans, read the book…
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