Puerto Rico Gov. Alejandro García-Padilla announced Monday he will not seek re-election to his post next year, to “concentrate” on addressing the island’s fiscal problems.
During a brief televised message, he said running for a second term would be “inconsistent” with his efforts to pull Puerto Rico out of its current crisis. The island is currently buckling under the weight of some $73 billion in public debt.
His decision sparked immediate reactions from political leaders from both sides of the fence, with governing Popular Democratic Party players showing their support, while some opposing New Progressive Party members, as expected, criticized the move.
“The island’s situation worsens and gets more complicated every day. It gets worse with the inaction of the federal government and we have to design a plan for the future that incorporates the principles of social justice, economic development and purity in public service,” said Senate President Eduardo Bhatia in a statement.
“My friend Alejandro will have my full support in the struggle for Puerto Rico,” he said.
House Speaker Jaime Perelló also expressed his support to the governor in coming months “toward finding a real solution to the island’s fiscal crisis.”
Meanwhile, Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi, who also presides the NPP, urged the governor to “redouble efforts to achieve viable alternatives to the crisis we face.”
“”The governor has announced a decision which, although very personal, concerns us all. After all, he’s still the governor and there is a lot of work to do over the next 12 months,” he said.
“The crisis facing Puerto Rico has been getting worse and is now at its very worst. Therefore, my call to all is that we focus on the work to be done, putting Puerto Rico above all,” said Pierluisi.
Meanwhile, members of his fiscal team also reacted to Monday’s development.
“The governor’s decision not to run for a second term to focus his efforts on continuing to work to solve the island’s problems, especially regarding the fiscal crisis, shows considerable political maturity and huge detachment by a leader and person, especially given the gravity of the moment Puerto Rico is facing,” said Government Development Bank President Melba Acosta, Treasury Secretary Juan Zaragoza and Office of Management and Budget Executive Director Luis Cruz, in a joint statement
“We understand the reasons the governor has had to make his decision and we reiterate that the fiscal team will continue working with him, and now with more strength and determination, to help him in his task of putting to Puerto Rico on the right track, facilitating economic growth and job creation that we need so much at this historic moment,” the public officials said.