With the appointments to five important positions, Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced seeks to shape her team, filling key positions, some of which have been vacant for months.
This is a decisive step by the governor who arrived at this position by constitutional provision, in the face of the island's challenges, which need to be addressed immediately.
The importance of these five appointments to the Department of State, the Department of Public Safety, the Chief of Staff, and the Department of Public Affairs and Public Policy, is clear.
Up until the summer of 2019, the importance of the Department of State did not seem clear. This position not only involves matters related to Puerto Rico´s international relations but the Secretary of State is also the first official in the line of succession by constitutional provision, in case the elected governor has to step down –as it happened last summer for the first time in Puerto Rico´s history. Therefore, the person appointed to this position should be prepared to take the reins of the island. We hope the governor considered this crucial point when making her decision.
At the same time, due to increasing murder, drug trafficking, and gender-based violence rates across the island, it becomes crucial for the head of Public Safety to recognize this as an absolute priority and that he should have the best resources possible to address this situation.
On the other hand, complying with the Police Reform's new guidelines still has to be settled in Federal Court. This reform is necessary to fight public insecurity on the island since this department is an umbrella including the Bureau of Forensic Sciences, Medical Emergency Corps, and the State Agency for Emergency and Disaster Management, among others.
The Chief of Staff has also essential tasks. This official is the liaison between the Executive Branch and other branches of government, especially the Legislative Branch. The Chief of Staff is in charge of implementing public policy, in terms of the current administration's government program and in accordance with the law. The nature of this position calls for a person to have solid organizational skills and harmonious communication. Both the Office of Public Policy and the Office of Municipal Affairs strengthen the work of the Chief of Staff, particularly with municipalities.
The difficult moment the island is going through poses crucial challenges for the nominees. The list includes the enormous fiscal challenge; the budget balance required to meet debt payments and cover basic services; situations arising from the Bankruptcy Court's decisions regarding debt restructuring agreements for General Obligations bonds and for the Electric Power Authority. It is important to work on a favorable investment climate that will bring capital and jobs that will mainly encourage young people to stay on the island and contribute to our future with their multiple talents.
This island's agenda will become even more relevant this new electoral year when social tension usually increases. The governor herself faces an unprecedented situation, as she is an unelected incumbent who will run for governor. This reality will demand her time and energy without forgetting her duty to work for all Puerto Ricans.
These newly appointed officials have a great opportunity to prove that they are up to the task that the historic moment demands. After last summer events, Puerto Ricans expect greater transparency, honesty and wise management of public resources, which will contribute to a better social climate. Puerto Rico must give them the necessary space to carry out their tasks.