Labor secretary resigns, citing personal reasons
By The Star Staff
At a critical time for his agency and despite being renominated by Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia, Labor and Human Resources Secretary Carlos Rivera Santiago tendered his resignation Wednesday, effective Dec. 31, citing personal reasons.
Rivera Santiago was appointed by former Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced to replace the previous Labor secretary, Briseida Torres Reyes, whose performance faced harsh criticism due to the stagnation in applications for unemployment during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The resignation of Rivera Santiago comes as the island Legislature has declined to confirm many of the nominees proposed by the governor. Rivera Santiago reportedly said he has already made a transition report to ensure there is continuity in the work.
“This job has involved many sacrifices for my family and on a personal level,” Rivera Santiago said. “I was always focused on stabilizing the Department of Labor. I did not arrive to tie myself to the chair and it was not something that I contemplated. My plan was to help the people of Puerto Rico.”
He declined to propose names for the seat that will be left vacant but noted that the governor already has a list of recommendations.
“The governor is evaluating and will announce it in due course. He has always consulted us and we are willing,” Rivera Santiago said. “We prepared a transition plan and it will be different from how I came to the agency … that is not going to happen. There will be continuity.”
“I am a lawyer by profession. I assume that in time I will be in private practice, but right now the priority is to make up time with my family,” Rivera Santiago said regarding what he predicts for the coming year.