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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Rivera Sierra withdraws her nomination for women’s advocate

Senate President José Luis Dalmau Santiago, chairman of the Senate Appointments Committee

By The Star Staff

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia confirmed Thursday that designated Women’s Advocate Vilmarie Rivera Sierra requested the withdrawal of her nomination for the post.

“Today, at the request of Mrs. Vilmarie Rivera Sierra, I am withdrawing her appointment as Women’s Advocate before the Senate of Puerto Rico,” the governor said in a written statement. “I thank Mrs. Rivera Sierra for her willingness to accept that assignment and for her unquestionable commitment to the well-being of Puerto Rican women. I am sure that she will continue to be an ally in the struggle we have as a government and society to eradicate the social evil of gender violence that affects us so much.”

Pierluisi also announced who will occupy the position on an interim basis.

“While I regret the outcome of this appointment, our people can rest assured that the Office of the Women’s Advocate will continue to fulfill its mission under the reins of attorney Madeline Bermúdez, who will assume the position of women’s advocate on an interim basis,” the governor said.

Earlier in the day, Pierluisi had insisted that Rivera Sierra is qualified for the position of women’s advocate.

“Everyone must exercise their judgment,” he said. “I judge that she has the qualities, the experience, the judgment and the commitment. But I have to respect the members of the Senate if they disagree with that judgment. For one thing, we have a system that works in such a way that the governor appoints, but it is the Senate that confirms or not. … I’m not too fond of the fact that sometimes they don’t confirm appointments that I have made, but I have to respect them. If that is the case, I must nominate another person.”

The governor appointed Rivera Sierra as women’s advocate during the legislative recess in January following the resignation of Lersy Boria Vizcarrondo.

Rivera Sierra’s confirmation process could have been smoother.

A legislative committee grilled her about her tenure at the head of a women’s shelter. She denied allegations of embezzlement while managing the Hogar Nueva Mujer Santa María de la Merced in Cayey, a position she held for 18 years.

In a public hearing of the Senate Appointments Committee, chaired by Senate President José Luis Dalmau Santiago, Rivera Sierra affirmed that monitoring of the Hogar Nueva María found problems involving “programmatic matters” and said they were corrected.

The candidate, meanwhile, had the support of dozens of women’s groups to take over the position.

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