• The Star Staff

If she wins, Lúgaro has her cabinet all set up. Not everyone is on board

By John McPhaul


Citizen Victory Movement (CVM) gubernatorial candidate Alexandra Lúgaro on Monday presented her cabinet nominees if she is elected.

The nominations were chosen through an initiative dubbed “The Cabinet,” a process in which the candidate, along with the public and experts in different disciplines, recruited the team of individuals who would lead the Puerto Rico government’s agencies in a Lúgaro administration beginning in January, she said.

“At the end of June of this year, I announced to the country an initiative never seen before in Puerto Rico, ‘El Gabinete.’ Since then, we have published the calls on our networks, we received hundreds of nominations from the public, we interviewed dozens of experts in a number of fields and we chose the first people who will be part of the Victoria Ciudadana Cabinet,” the candidate said. “When we choose a governor, we are also choosing the person who nominates the administrators of the various governmental agencies of Puerto Rico. Being an anti-corruption movement, we recognized the importance of the country knowing these leaders, their careers and their performance, before making a decision tomorrow [today]. Highlighting competence and preparation above any partisan line, we present our cabinet to the country.”

The nominees are:

* Secretary of Health -- Dr. Sara Huertas. Graduated from the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) School of Medicine with a specialty in psychiatry, earned a master’s degree in public health from Columbia University in New York. Community consultant at primary care centers and hospitals of the capital; co-founder of the Convergence for Mental Health, an organization of citizens, professionals and unions to advocate for access and quality of services; and co-founder of the Health Alliance for the People.

* Deputy Secretary of Health -- Dr. Luis Avilés. Professor at the School of Public Health of the UPR Medical Sciences Campus, expert in biostatistics, who will be in charge of directing the transition toward universal health insurance and the establishment of a statistics center that will allow the proper handling of data in order to overcome the coronavirus pandemic.

* Director of Medical Strategies to Face Pandemics -- Dr. Fernando Cabanillas. Hematologist, oncologist, and director and founder of the Cancer Center at Hospital Auxilio Mutuo.

* Director of Policies and Programs for the Health Care of Addictions -- Dr. Carmen Albizu. Professor at the Graduate School of Public Health of the UPR Medical Sciences Campus. She has advised, consulted and made recommendations to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as part of the Advisory Council of the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism of the National Institutes of Health.

* Hospital Medical Director -- Dr. Lidy López. A UPR graduate with over 40 years of experience.

* Secretary of Family -- Larry Emil Alicea. Master’s degree in social work with a concentration on families and children from UPR, director of the Support Program for Victims of Sexual Abuse and Their Families at Albizu University. He was supervisor of the Specialized Investigations Unit of the Family Department in the Bayamón and Carolina regions. Presided over the Puerto Rico Association of Social Work Professionals and currently chairs the Latin America and Caribbean Region of the International Federation of Social Work.

* Secretary of Transportation and Public Works -- Benjamín Colucci. Master of Science degree in civil engineering and doctorate in philosophy. Specializes in transportation in the areas of road infrastructure, public transportation, road safety, geometric design, traffic engineering and transportation. Director of the Transportation Technology Transfer Center. In 2018, the Federal Highway Administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded him the Public Service Award in recognition of his outstanding work in education and training in the areas of transportation.

* Secretary of Recreation and Sports -- Michelle González. Juris Doctor from UPR School of Law. She is a member of the executive board of the Puerto Rico Basketball Federation and is currently a guard for the national women’s basketball team, with which she has been a participant in the Basketball World Cup, Centrobasket, Central American Games, Pan American Games and soon, and the Olympics. She has stood out in the fight to eliminate the gap in compensation and opportunities between male and female athletes.

* Director of the Bureau for Emergency Management and Disaster Administration -- Nino Correa. The cabinet search initiative was flooded with requests that Correa remain in the position he currently occupies.

Lúgaro added that the selection of the people who will direct the departments of Labor and Human Resources, Education, and Justice will be made through a participatory process involving experts from the various relevant sectors.

The CVM gubernatorial candidate said the nominations for secretary of State and secretary of Agriculture are pending acceptance by Sen. Juan Dalmau and Eliezer Molina, respectively.

For his part, Dalmau, the Puerto Rican Independence Party candidate for governor, thanked his opponent for including him in her prospective cabinet, but noted that he aspires to be the next governor of the island. He also said in a radio interview that he had understood that the positions were to be filled by presenting resumes and after an interview process.

“I had understood that the announcement that was made by that group is that they were submitting a summary of people who were going to be evaluated on their merits, not pre-picked appointments, and I have not submitted any documents,” Dalmau said in a radio interview on WIAC 740 AM. “I thank the Citizen Victory Movement for recognizing my leadership, capabilities, history and character. They are not the only ones. In the Univision [TV] debate, other candidates also recognized that leadership and track record, but I am a candidate for governor for the Independence Party.”

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