PUERTO RICO: Governor Shuffle Fails to Appease Masses

Photo: Wendy Vasquez is sworn in as Puerto Rico’s third governor in a week.

By Felipe Vera

Since former Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo “Ricky” Rossello resigned from office on July 25, the masses have continued to mobilize and protest, even as the government has desperately swapped out governors in an effort to pacify them.

Pedro Pierluisi had been sworn in to take Rossello’s place but was rejected last Wednesday by the Puerto Rican Supreme Court, making Justice Wendy Vazquez the new governor. While the individuals taking the office are different, the ruling class interests remain the same. All three governors are members of the same bourgeois political party, the New Progressive Party.

Less than a week after Vazquez’s appointment, Thomas Rivera Schatz, president of the Puerto Rican Senate and head of the New Progressive Party, has already privately sat down with politicians to discuss non-voting Congress representative Jenniffer Gonzalez as a potential candidate for governor.

This attempt to disorient the masses and conceal the crimes and corruption of the ruling class has not been effective so far. The masses have denounced Vazquez just as they did Rossello and Pierluisi, pointing to her ongoing criminal investigation as well as her cutting of funds for battered women.

This whole scenario is essentially a sped-up version of every election process and highlights the bankruptcy of elections in the age of imperialism in general. Schatz, the man who advocated for Pierluisi’s takedown and who is currently scheming to replace Vasquez with Gonzalez, will himself be running for Governor in 2020.

For weeks, protesters in Puerto Rico have given speeches, protested, and thrown rocks at state forces as they launched tear gas into the crowds. Although these protests brought out the masses, the state was not smashed and left completely intact with Rossello’s departure.

Protesters clash with police in San Juan.

Phony socialists like the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) serve the interests of US imperialism by trying to characterize this resignation as an “overthrow.” US imperialism is more than willing to sacrifice a lackey or two (or three) as long as its domination of Puerto Rico as a colony remains unchallenged.

Real social change cannot and will not be accomplished through resignations, electoral politics, or NGO’s like Rossello’s Boricua ¡Ahora Es!. Puerto Rico has a long history of militant anti-colonial resistance with a correct attitude toward sham elections, one example being Lolita Lebrón, who was imprisoned for 25 years by the US imperialist government after leading a coordinated attack on the US House of Representatives in 1954 during which 5 congressmen were shot.

The masses demand more than the swapping of bourgeois officials. It is the duty of revolutionaries to turn these disorganized calls for change into an organized, active boycott of elections that can challenge the sham Puerto Rican system and its master US imperialism.