• The San Juan Daily Star

Lawmakers call for open elections to fill corruption vacancies

Independent Sen. José Vargas Vidot

By The Star Staff

Independent senator José Vargas Vidot, independent representative Luis Raúl Torres Cruz, Puerto Rican Independence Party Secretary General Juan Dalmau Ramírez and Citizen Victory Movement General Coordinator Manuel Natal Albelo on Monday called for open elections to replace corrupt officials.

“The recent arrests of elected officials from the New Progressive Party (NPP) and the Popular [Democratic] Party (PDP) compel reflection and definitely action,” the legislators said in a written statement. “The common denominator in all these accusations and acts against the People is bipartisanship and their control over government structures and processes. It is up to the rest of the People to organize and act together.”

The electoral and municipal codes, approved by the NPP and the PDP, the legislators said, leave the process to fill a vacancy in the hands of their respective parties upon the resignation of an elected official due to allegations of corruption.

“In less than six months, five municipalities will have new mayors, chosen exclusively by the party of the corrupt mayor. This is not acceptable,” they said. “Multiple proposals for electoral reforms and changes to the legal system have been introduced to allow the People, in an open election, to choose the person to fill the vacancy in a mayor’s office. These changes, like so many others, depend on the affirmative vote of the majority of the NPP and PDP members in the Legislative Assembly and the Governor’s signature. As representatives of various political and social forces, we call for open elections. We demand that the Legislative Assembly give way to the bills to allow the People to decide the future of their respective municipalities.”

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