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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Appointment of new women’s advocate still in limbo

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi

By Alejandra M. Jover Tovar

Special to The Star

Although Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia says he wants to appoint a women’s advocate, at the moment he has no candidate.

“That appointment is pending, but I have the desire to do it,” the governor said earlier this week in response to questions from the press. “So as soon as we have the right person, I will do it.”

When asked if he would submit the appointment during the current legislative session, Pierluisi answered: “It would be positive, but I will announce it at the appropriate time.”

“There are different candidates, and I have not made my decision, but I want to make it in due time because it would be positive for me to make this appointment soon,” he said.

According to Article 4 of Law 20 of 2001, the appointee for the Women’s Advocate Office (OPM by its Spanish initials) “must be a woman of recognized capacity, professionalism and independence of opinion who has distinguished herself by her commitment to defending the rights of women and in the fight for the elimination of all manifestations of oppression, marginalization, and discrimination.”

Some names that have been considered are former Sen. Zoé Laboy Alvarado and Rep. Wanda del Valle Correa, but feminist organizations have endorsed neither. Enid Pérez of Proyecto Matria mentioned in August that they would not accept the appointment of a fundamentalist.

Irma Lugo, from the Gender Equity Observatory, said that “as far as I understand, since May, that position had been available for a new advocate, but at that time, there was Lersy Boria, who later resigned because she had another position available.”

“We wanted to know if there was going to be compliance with Law 20,” Lugo added. “I understand that some candidates were discussed.”

“The governor had asked at PARE committee [for Gender Violence Prevention, Support, Rescue and Education] meetings about possible candidates, and in the statistics and research subcommittee of the PARE committee, one of our statements was that we were the only civil organization participating there, and we gave good recommendations,” Lugo said. “Many were well taken, but we realized that many committee members had no decision-making power. It was important for them to make those decisions. The people representing the Women’s Advocate Office were very silent, which worried me.”

Lugo pointed out that “the concern is that in the OPM, there should be a person who is knowledgeable about the issues, active, who does the job of supervision, not of providing services, because that is not her job,” Lugo pointed out, adding that the governor has a letter provided by the PARE committee with acceptable candidates.

“Which candidates were recommended in the letter to Pierluisi?” the STAR asked.

“I am not authorized to say, but it is good to tell the governor that he has a letter from the organizations,” Lugo noted. “Are these candidates being considered?”

The STAR tried to reach other feminist organizations on Thursday, but text messages and calls went unanswered.

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