• The Star Staff

Vázquez has yet to endorse Pierluisi as governor; says she ‘can’t interfere with’ rally

By Pedro Correa Henry

Twitter: @PCorreaHenry

Special to The Star

With just a week away before the 2020 general elections, Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced did not respond clearly on Monday as to whether she was going to endorse New Progressive Party (NPP) gubernatorial candidate Pedro Pierluisi.

Vázquez said her political campaign finished back on Aug.16, the day that the second part of the primary elections took place, and that she remains focused on her role as governor. She said “the candidates have done an extraordinary job.”

“Going forward, I will continue in my government function. I’m pro-statehood, I will vote for statehood and for my party,” Vázquez said. “Those are my statements and I stand by them. Once again, I have held onto these statements; I will vote for the NPP and for statehood.”

When a member of the press asked about a political rally that called for a “Vázquez for governor” write-in campaign, she said “it was an expression of the constitutional right that people have [to freedom of speech], [and] I cannot interfere with that,” even though the current Executive Order 2020-077, which remains in effect until Nov. 13, states that “all mass activities are unauthorized, both in open and closed spaces, including parades, convoys and similar activities that tend toward crowding.”

“I cannot prevent the demonstrations of the Puerto Rican people, nor can we prevent reactions to different situations that occur in our town,” the governor said. “Just as we see demonstrations by the workers, by the teachers, by the nurses who go in front of La Fortaleza and express their position in favor of or against the situations that are occurring.”

Responds to Health secretary’s estimates on COVID-19-related deaths by end of year

Meanwhile, when another member of the press asked about her plan to continue addressing the COVID-19 pandemic in Puerto Rico after Health Secretary Lorenzo González Feliciano told local media outlets that the death toll due to the coronavirus on the island could reach 1,000 by the end of the year, Vázquez said she keeps contact with González Feliciano “day by day” in terms of the virus’ presence on the island and that every citizen is responsible for continuing to enforce safety rules, such as using face coverings, to prevent further infections.

“We have to keep enforcing the message of using face coverings, frequent hand washing, and physical distancing; in that sense, we have made every decision with the recommendations of physicians, of every scientific sector in Puerto Rico, something that I consider has been extraordinary,” she said. “We have had the [Puerto Rico Public Health] Trust and different groups of physicians that have helped make such determinations, and I, as governor, will always make every decision taking mainly the medical aspect into consideration to protect the lives and health of all Puerto Ricans. If there’s an impact on the economic sector, the lives and health of Puerto Ricans go above everything else.”

Meanwhile, she congratulated “the vast majority of Puerto Ricans” for following not only her instructions, but also the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to protect themselves from the virus.

“We have to keep doing so as long as we don’t have a vaccine,” she said. “We have to protect ourselves both individually and among others.”