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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Justice chief initiates removal of Torres Rodríguez as statehood delegate

Elizabeth Torres Rodríguez

By The Star Staff

Justice Secretary Domingo Emanuelli Hernández on Monday began the process of removing statehood lobbyist/congressional delegate Elizabeth Torres Rodríguez for what he said was her “gross breach of the duties and functions” of the position for which she was elected.

After completing a civil evaluation, the Justice secretary, on behalf of the Puerto Rico government, filed a special legal remedy in San Juan Superior Court requesting the dismissal of Torres Rodríguez in accordance with the provisions of the Law 167 of 2020, better known as the Law to Create the Congressional Delegation of Puerto Rico.

“Despite the fact that Mrs. Torres Rodríguez promised under oath to advance the objectives of Law 167-2020 and to actively work full time for that purpose, her actions and statements show that she has not been performing the functions as required by the statute, and in compliance with the electors’ mandate,” Emanuelli Hernández said at a press conference. “From the time she was sworn in to the present, Torres Rodríguez has not made affirmative actions to demand that the federal Congress proceed to admit Puerto Rico as a state of the United States. On the contrary, on multiple occasions and constantly since she was sworn in, she has stated that she does not recognize the objective of Law 167-2020 and that the congressional delegation must be dissolved.”

According to Law 167 of 2020, in order to comply with the mandate of the electors, the congressional delegates have the duty to demand that the U.S. Congress respect and enforce the result of the 2020 plebiscite. In order to demonstrate what was entrusted, the delegates must submit a report on their efforts to the governor of Puerto Rico every 90 days. However, in her reports, the delegate focuses on criticizing and rejecting the plebiscite, the Justice secretary noted.

Likewise, in order to degrade the importance of the vote, Torres Rodríguez requested the dissolution of the delegation to which she belongs, and the holding of a new plebiscite. That demand is completely contrary to the oath she took to uphold the 2020 plebiscite, Emanuelli Hernández said.

“In addition, in one of the reports she indicated that she will not offer any details about the strategy to be executed and the people contacted,” the lawsuit says. “The special delegate unilaterally intends to report the steps she allegedly carried out once the term of her mandate ends in 2024 and she has been disbursed more than a quarter of a million dollars in public funds for her alleged hidden or secret strategies. That is, she intends not to account for the functions for which she was elected, as established by Law No. 167-2020 …”

As another action that demonstrates the delegate’s noncompliance, it was pointed out that she unilaterally decided not to deliver the third printed report and, instead, published a video on her electronic page, according to the legal filing.

“With such an act, she ignored the express mandate of the law and did not comply with her statutory responsibility to present to the Governor a report on her efforts to demand that Congress admit Puerto Rico as a state,” the lawsuit adds.

The two published written reports and the video that Torres Rodríguez made to replace her third report confirm that the delegate fails to present concrete facts that show that she has fulfilled her obligations and duties and that she limits herself to trying to spread her opinions and criticisms of the island government, the media and other delegates, Torres Rodríguez noted.

Likewise, the legal appeal filed by the Justice Department asserts that “her actions and her statements make it clear that she does not recognize the delegation to which she belongs and that she has abdicated the carrying out of her statutory functions.”

Later on Monday, Torres Rodríguez let her feelings be known about the legal proceeding initiated against her by the Justice chief, insisting that the days of the New Progressive Party (NPP) “are numbered.”

“Today the beginning of a new chapter in the book of corruption and political persecution was made official through the fabrication of cases by a gutless party,” she said in a written statement. “The New Progressive Party puts under the midday sun the systemic tricks that its agents and political allies planted in all government agencies are capable of desperately carrying out with the sole purpose of silencing any voice that has the courage to denounce their shady acts. The people will see once again, with more attention this time, the type of criminal administration that governs us.”

“I believe that the NPP is making a serious mistake today, as it did when promoting Law 167,” Torres Rodríguez continued. “I believe that despair and hatred clouded its judgment once again. The people are not stupid and have seen how the party has thrown in the towel on the rest of the delegates who have blatantly violated the law without consequences. The people are wise, although the NPP does not think so.”

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