At his first news conference as leader of the bankrupt U.S. territory, Pierluisi said Puerto Rico’s Senate would meet on Wednesday to vote on whether to confirm his position as governor.
Pierluisi, a lawyer who formerly advised the despised, federally created board supervising Puerto Rico’s bankruptcy, was sworn in even though his appointment had not yet gone before the Senate for a vote. Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz, who calls Pierluisi “the lawyer for Puerto Rico’s number one enemy,” termed the controversial move “unethical and illegal.”
“The Senate will have its say and by the end of Wednesday we’ll know whether I am ratified,” Pierluisi, who until last week was a corporate attorney for Washington law firm O’Neill & Borges, told reporters. “If I am not ratified then the second in line, the secretary of justice of Puerto Rico, will take over the governorship.”
Rossello, a 40-year-old, first-term governor, had tapped Pierluisi as secretary of state, a position that would put him first in line as successor to the governor.
The island’s leading newspaper El Nuevo Dia subsequently reported that Schatz had rescheduled the session to vote on the appointment for Monday.
Hundreds of people, many waving the Puerto Rican flag, chanted and rang bells outside the governor’s mansion in the historic centre of San Juan, after Rossello’s resignation. Police on several occasions warned they would fire tear gas to disperse protesters, but by 9.30 p.m. they had yet to do so or move in on demonstrators.