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  HOME | Caribbean

Luis Fortuņo takes office as new governor of Puerto Rico

SAN JUAN -- Luis Fortuņo, of the pro-statehood New Progressive Party, took office Friday as the new governor of the U.S. commonwealth of Puerto Rico with a hopeful message inviting compatriots to "dream of a better future."

Fortuņo was sworn-in before chief justice of the Puerto Rico Supreme Court, Federico Hernandez Denton.

Among the thousands of people at the Capitol were Dominican President Leonel Fernandez and stars Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony.

"Upon being sworn-in to the office of governor, I do it aware of, and inspired by, the future that lies ahead," said Fortuņo, who until recently was Puerto Rico's non-voting representative in the U.S. Congress.

Fortuņo guaranteed that the economic crisis in Puerto Rico, whose government is running a budget deficit of more than $3 billion, "will pass," although he acknowledged that it will take everyone working together to achieve that goal.

In recession since 2006, the Caribbean island is beset by inflation of roughly 12 percent and an unemployment rate of 12.1 percent.

It's time to "straighten out our economy and rescue our values" and "give our children a better Puerto Rico," the new governor said.

He said that the time has come to "take lessons" from the past and face the future, and in that regard said: "Today we are one people," ready to "stand up to one of the most difficult situations of our lives."

"The task won't be easy, but together we can create a better Puerto Rico," he said.

Aware that the economic situation is his first priority, Fortuņo organized an inauguration marked by austerity.

Inaugural expenses totaled $487,000, half of what the Puerto Rican government spent on the inauguration of Anibal Acevedo Vila in 2005.

Fortuņo defeated incumbent Acevedo Vila on Nov. 4 in a landslide, obtaining the largest margin of victory in a Puerto Rican election in more than 44 years.

The PNP candidate received 1,014,852 votes, equivalent to 52.78 percent of the electorate.

Acevedo Vila, whose Popular Democratic Party - PPD - favors an enhanced commonwealth status for Puerto Rico, is set to go on trial early next year on federal corruption charges.

 

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