Puerto Rico governor names Laboy as chief of staff


Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced named Puerto Rico Senator Zoé Laboy Wednesday to fill the open position of chief of staff and Elí Díaz Atienza to fill the role as governor’s representative to the Oversight Board.

“I’m proud to have Zoé Laboy and Elí Díaz Atienza as part of our team,” the governor said. “They are proven professionals who, like me, want the best for Puerto Rico.”

Puerto Rico Sen. Zoé Laboy, right, accepting her nomination to be Chief of Staff from Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced on Wednesday.

Chief of staff is arguably the most powerful position in Puerto Rico’s executive branch, outside that of the governor, with oversight of all departments except for the Office of Budget and Management and the Planning Board. Different chiefs of staffs are active in different areas of government.

Laboy is a member with Vázquez Garced in the pro-statehood New Progressive Party.

Laboy became a senator in January 2017. After confidential chats involving former Gov. Ricardo Rosselló became public, she was the first NPP senator to call for his resignation.

According to the Primera Hora web site she denounced what she saw in the chats as the governor’s attacks against women and minorities. She also expressed concern about Rosselló’s release of confidential information to parties outside the government.

The day after Vázquez Garced became the new governor on Aug. 7, NPP legislative leaders threw a news conference indicating their support for Resident Commissioner Jenniffer Gonzalez Colón to replace her. They enlisted most of their fellow NPP legislators to sign a statement in favor of Gonzalez Colón.

At the time Laboy said Vázquez Garced should be given a chance to do the job.

The NPP leadership has since retreated and said they support Vázquez Garced.

Laboy worked as the head of the Puerto Rico Department of Correction and Rehabilitation under Gov. Pedro Rosselló González, from early 2005 to early 2009.

On the Puerto Rico Senate web site she describes herself as a “defender of vulnerable populations, young people, and women.”

In the senate she chairs the Social and Economic Revitalization Committee and is a member of nine other committees.

In the Senate she fought to ban therapies aimed at converting people’s sexual orientation. She also worked against allowing employers to use their religious beliefs in hiring, which some saw as an opening to discriminate against gays.

Laboy is replacing Ricardo Llerandi, who resigned in July in the chats scandal.

Laboy has a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Puerto Rico and worked as a lawyer for at least 10 years.

Vázquez Garced named Díaz Atienza to be the new non-voting governor’s representative on the Oversight Board. He replaces Christian Sobrino Vega, who also resigned due to comments he made in the chats.

Díaz Atienza has been the executive director of the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Association since February 2017. He will retain this position but will resign a position on the board of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority.

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