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The Governors of Puerto Rico

After weeks of political turmoil in Puerto Rico, Wanda Vázquez became the island’s third governor in five days.  It appears that she may remain in office until the next gubernatorial election, which will be held in 2020.

What is the history of the Governors of Puerto Rico?

Governors under Spain

The first Governor of Puerto Rico was Ponce de Leon, appointed by Spain in 1509. His grandson was the first governor born in Puerto Rico.This is the same Ponce de Leon famous for his search for the Fountain of Youth.

Spain appointed military governors from 1508 until they ceded Puerto Rico to the United States after the Spanish-American War.

U.S.-appointed governors

In 1898, Puerto Rico became a territory of the United States. The U.S. president appointed all the governors from that time until 1948.

The first Puerto Rican appointed by the U.S. as Governor of Puerto Rico was Jesús Toribio Piñero Jiménez, appointed by Harry Truman. He served from 1946 to 1948. In 1948, Puerto Rico began to elect governors by popular vote.

The 12 elected governors

  1. Luis Muñoz Marín (1898–1980) was the first governor elected by popular vote. He served four terms: 1949-1952, 1953-1956, 1957-1960, and 1961-1964.
  2. Roberto Sánchez Vilella (1913–1997) was one of the writers of Puerto Rico’s Constitution. He served from 1965 to 1968.
  3. Luis A. Ferré (1904–2003) was also involved in the Constitutional Convention that led to Puerto Rico’s Constitution in 1952. He served as governor from 1969 to 1972.
  4. Rafael Hernández Colón (1936–2019) was elected to three terms as governor: 1973-1976, 1985-1988, and 1989-1992
  5. Carlos Romero Barceló (b. 1932). was governor for two terms, 1977-1980 and 1981-1984. He then became Resident Commissioner.
  6. Rafael Hernández Colón became governor again from 1985 to 1992.
  7. Pedro Rosselló González (b. 1944) served as governor for two terms, 1993-1996 and 1997-2000. His son was the 12th Governor of Puerto Rico.
  8. Sila María Calderón Serra (b. 1942) was the first woman to be elected as Governor of Puerto Rico. She served from 2001 to 2004.
  9. Aníbal Acevedo Vilá (b. 1962) was Resident Commissioner before becoming governor from 2005 to 2008.
  10. Luis Fortuño Burset (b. 1960) also served as Resident Commissioner before becoming governor. he was the Governor of Puerto Rico from 2009 to 2012.
  11. Alejandro García Padilla (b. 1971) was governor from 2013 to 2017.
  12. Ricardo Rosselló Nevares (b. 1979) was governor from 2018 to 2019. He resigned following public protests over scandal in his administration.
  13. Pedro Pierluisi (b. 1959) is the current governor. He was Resident Commissioner before becoming Governor of Puerto Rico.

Unelected Governors of Puerto Rico

Pedro Pierluisi was sworn in in 2019. He was Resident Commissioner before becoming Governor of Puerto Rico. He was appointed to the position of Secretary of State by Ricardo Rossello, and not elected. His governorship was contested in the courts, and he was governor for less than a week in 2019. He was elected governor in 2020.

Wanda Vazquez, next in line as Attorney General, was then sworn in and was  the Governor of Puerto Rico from 2019 to 2020.

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