“We’re at a strange moment because there’s no clear sense of what comes next,” Alexandra-Marie Figueroa Miranda, a campaign and activism coordinator at Amnesty International in Puerto Rico, told NBC News. “There’s a panorama of uncertainty.”
Critics say they are not seeing progress on that front.
“There’s no indication that an orderly transition is taking place, especially when the island is in chaos,” said Figueroa Miranda. “People also don’t trust the promises of a governor whose governorship lacked order.”
A spokeswoman from La Fortaleza (the governor’s mansion) could not provide updates regarding the status of Rosselló’s “orderly transition,” just three days before the governor's resignation becomes official.
“We don’t have access to that information,” Miriam Quiñones, an administration spokesperson, told NBC News on Tuesday morning.
By law, the island's secretary of state should be the one to succeed Rosselló. However, no one has been confirmed to assume the position since Luis G. Rivera Marín, who was part of the chat scandal that led to Rosselló’s ouster, submitted his resignation July 13.
In a press release sent immediately after Rosselló announced his resignation, Vázquez said that since his resignation was not effective immediately, they “would work together to carry out an orderly and transparent transition process.”
Rep. Jenniffer González, Puerto Rico’s nonvoting member of Congress, echoed Vázquez’s words in a statement Tuesday, saying, “I reiterate that a Secretary of State must be appointed as soon as possible in order to have a person who can hold the position, give direction, stability and credibility to the Island.”
Vázquez, who was appointed in 2017, is seen by many as loyal to Rosselló.
She initially described the leaked chats that sparked huge protests in Puerto Rico as "incorrect" but not illegal. She also announced she would recuse herself from participating in an investigation into whether the chats constituted unlawful behavior because it would be spearheaded by the island's Justice Department, which she leads.
“She keeps saying that she doesn’t want to be the next governor, but she also refuses to resign,” Figueroa Miranda said.
People’s discontent with Vázquez has been brewing since last week after the hashtag #WandaRenuncia started trending on Twitter immediately after Rosselló's address ended.
If Rosselló doesn’t name a secretary of state and Vázquez refuses to step in as governor, the next person in line is Puerto Rico’s 31-year-old treasury secretary, Francisco Parés. But he would be unable to take over because the Puerto Rican constitution requires the governor to be at least 35.
Education Secretary Eligio Hernandez would be next in line. If he refuses to step up as governor, the line of succession would be as follows: Labor Secretary Briseida Torres; Transportation Secretary Carlos Contreras; Secretary of Economic Development Manuel Laboy; Health Secretary Rafael Rodríguez; and Agriculture Secretary Carlos Flores.
“Puerto Ricans don’t seem to be as uncomfortable with the uncertainty around who will be the next governor. … Many people feel certain that whoever comes next would be more of the same,” said Gabriel A. Torres Colón, a Vanderbilt University anthropology professor who is researching how people experience political life on the island.
“But the despair to tear down corruption is real,” Torres Colón said.
Demonstrations, albeit smaller than last week's historic protests, have continued, even after Rosselló announced his resignation.
Figueroa Miranda said that 100 to 500 protesters gather in front of the governor's mansion daily, calling for an end to corruption on the island. This past weekend, protesters created a human chain that stretched out across several towns, including Ponce and Corozal, expressing their rejection of the Rosselló administration.
Both efforts came on top of recent arrests of former officials and government contractors on charges that include fraud involving $15.5 million in federal funding. Investigators are still looking into possible wrongdoing such as corruption and conflicts of interest.