Former Puerto Rico Governor arrested on DOJ corruption charges

As Reports surfaced that an FBI raid was conducted on Mar-a-Lago in Florida. Many Americans might have been unaware of reports about an FBI investigation into a separate chief executive. This happened just one week before. 

The Department of Justice was closed last Thursday Annouced that the FBI had arrested Puerto Rico’s former governor, Wanda Vázquez, at her home in San Juan. A grand jury indicted Vázquez and several co-conspirators on charges of bribery and wire fraud. Prosecutors AllegeJulio Herrera Velutini was a Venezuelan banker who conspired with her to get donations for her campaign. Indictment Claim that, in exchange for financial support, Vázquez promised to appoint banking regulators of Herrera’s choice to the island’s top banking watchdog (which was investigating Herrera at the time).

Vázquez, who denies the allegations, became the island’s governor in August 2019 amid a succession crisis following the resignation of Governor Ricardo Rosselló, who SteppingHis vulgar exchanges with his aides, mocking Puerto Ricans who were left devastated by Hurricane Maria made him fall. The constitution of the island allows for the resignation or death of any governor and the appointment of the secretary-of-state to replace him. At the time of Rosselló’s resignation, the island had No secretary of state, paving the way for Vázquez, then the justice secretary, to take over.

After a series of major earthquakes rocked Puerto Rico in December 2019 and January 2020, Vázquez was criticized for her response and faced ethics probes over her handlingFederal aid money. In addition, she led Puerto Rico in the initial stages COVID-19’s pandemic. She instituted aggressive policies. CurfewsAnd Lockdowns.

In Puerto Rico corruption has been an issue in U.S.-Territory relations for many years. This is especially due to the increasing dependence of the territory on federal funding over the past few years. Puerto Rico received over $65 Billion in federal grants, loans, direct payments and other assistance during the Pandemic. U.S. taxpayers will be paying upwards of $50 Billion for Hurricane Maria relief alone. Trump launched a scathing attack on the leaders of the island for “robbery the U.S government blind”. He purportedly withheld disaster relief funds in fear that officials might mismanage them.

Vázquez’s arrest comes amid a wide-reaching federal crackdown on corruption in Puerto Rico. Back in 2019, federal agents arrested Puerto Rico’s education secretary, Julia Keleher, and the executive director of the island’s Health Insurance Administration, Ángela Ávila Marrero, among others, alleging they schemedTo steer more than $15 million into rebuilding contracts for certain contractors and consultants. However The Miami Herald, ForbesSince then, many others have followed their lead. questionedKeleher’s role in post-Maria contract problems was particularly to blame. This led to Keleher being a flashpoint for public anger over corruption. On September 12, former FEMA managers on the island, as well as the chief of an Oklahoma-based oil company, were charged with bribery. ParticipatedIn a $1.8 Billion bribery scheme for the reconstruction of the island’s electrical grid. It was destroyed by Hurricane Maria in 2017. 

Six of the island’s total 78 mayors were elected to office since December 2021. ChargedFederal prosecutors were able to charge the accused with crimes that range from kickbacks and bribery to extortion. There were also prosecutors who investigated possible connections between Super PAC members and the governor of Brazil, Pedro Pierluisi. ArrestOn charges that they falsified donor information in federal disclosure forms. Many prominent members of the Puerto Rican House of Representatives (and Senate) have faced similar charges. Bribery, fraudAnd perjuryIn recent years, allegations have been made. This morning federal agents made allegations. ExecutedA search warrant was issued at the Offices of Puerto Rico’s Department of Education in connection with an unspecified investigation. 

These arrests and investigations are a major concern as Congressmen and Puerto Rican politicians push legislation to grant the territory statehood. Experts wonder if Puerto Rican statehood would be a benefit for the country or just the island without reforming the government institutions.

These developments are a major setback for Puerto Ricans’ confidence in their government. Benjamin Torres Gotay (a journalist and columnist) said that there are many people being charged and that there are rumors of more arrests. El Nuevo DiaPuerto Rican Newspaper, Telled NPR In May. This all gives the impression that the government can be viewed as a mere pinata, and that corruption is possible.