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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Ex-Ponce mayor Meléndez resigns as statehood shadow delegate


María “Mayita” Meléndez Altieri

Will retire from public life, citing health concerns


By The Star Staff


Due to health complications, María Eloísa “Mayita” Meléndez Altieri announced her resignation earlier this week as a statehood shadow delegate and her retirement from public life.


“As everyone knows, a few months ago I suffered a health mishap that has changed my pace of life,” Meléndez Altieri said in a statement Monday. “Today my body tells me something else.”


“It is by the infinite mercy of God that I am alive,” the former mayor of Ponce added. “I must do my part and focus my energies on my family and my healing.”


Meléndez Altieri, 71, made the decision after at least nine months without being able to travel to Washington, D.C.


Her resignation comes three weeks after an island court removed Elizabeth Torres, another shadow delegate for statehood, from her position.


Now, there are four special delegates elected to lobby Congress for the statehood of Puerto Rico: Zoraida Buxó and Melinda Romero in the United States Senate, along with Roberto Lefranc Fortuño and Ricardo Rosselló Nevares in the U.S. House of Representatives.


Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia said Tuesday that he favors an election to fill the two statehood lobbyist/delegate vacancies.


“If that materializes, what I am going to do on my part is urge qualified and willing statehood supporters to join the cause for the remaining year and a half [of the delegates’ terms] because the law is clear,” the governor said in response to questions from the press.


“Any additional voice joining the cause of statehood before Congress is positive. We have had, as I said, six delegates and [of those] delegates, as I said in the past, five of the six were doing the work, they have been doing the work,” Pierluisi added. “Now we are talking about the possibility of two vacancies and in the face of that, what I am saying is that, according to the law that created these positions, it is the State Elections Commission that calls and carries out the process.”


An odontologist by profession, Meléndez Altieri served as mayor of Ponce under the New Progressive Party banner from Jan. 2, 2009 to Jan. 10, 2021. She became a national committee member from the Democratic Party of Puerto Rico in 2013, and also served as chairwoman of the local council of the League of United Latin American Citizens, commonly known as LULAC.


Veteran pro-statehood lawmaker José Aponte Hernández lauded Meléndez Altieri for the “commitment and passion” she brought to her work as a member of the special delegation to the U.S. Congress.


“Her work in favor of equal rights for U.S. citizens who live in Puerto Rico has been very significant,” he said. “We wish ‘Mayita’ Meléndez the best in this new facet of her life and she can count on us for whatever she needs.”

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