Vázquez Garced (Wanda Vázquez Garced) was born and educated in Puerto Rico, and began her career in public service in the 1980s, when she served the Puerto Rico Department of Housing. She then became district attorney in the Puerto Rico Department of Justice. For 20 years, Vázquez Garced specialized in domestic and sexual abuse.
Vázquez Garced also served as the head of the Office for Women’s Rights in Puerto Rico. She was chosen to head the Department of Justice by Rossello in 2016 and sworn in as Attorney General in 2017. Some women’s groups opposed Ms. Vázquez during her seven years as the head of the island’s women’s affairs office. (It was supposed to be a 10-year term, but she left early to become secretary of justice.)
“A lot of feminist groups were very critical of Wanda Vázquez,” said Saadi Rosado of the Feminist Collective, an advocacy group. “She failed to address gender violence issues and was another piece of government bureaucracy.”
Wanda Vázquez Garced Full Biography and Profile
Wanda Vázquez Garced, the island’s secretary of justice, is the equivalent of a state attorney general, since January 2017. Wanda Vázquez Garced, a member of the New Progressive Party, like Mr. Rosselló, who appointed her. She worked as an attorney specializing in domestic and sexual violence before her appointment to the top post at the commonwealth’s Department of Justice. She was appointed to lead the office of women’s affairs in 2010.
A career public servant and lightning rod for controversy, Vazquez worked at Puerto Rico’s Department of Housing before spending 20 years as a district attorney for the island’s Department of Justice.
In 2010, she took over the Puerto Rico Office for Women’s Rights, until Rosselló nominated her for justice secretary in 2016. Even as the island’s top women’s rights advocate, she faced pushback from some women’s groups who said she did not do enough. As justice secretary, she clashed publicly with Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz, a member of the governor’s party who had nonetheless called for Vazquez’s resignation.
After revelations of Rosselló’s text exchanges with members of his staff, some critics said Vazquez dragged her feet on subpoenaing phones of those involved in the chat. “We see her as being slow to prosecute people in her own administration,” said Puerto Rico Representative Luis Vega Ramos, a member of the opposition party.
She had fraught relationship with the legislative branch to say the least. As secretary of justice, she was criticized for dragging her feet on investigating controversies involving members of her own party. She clashed especially with Thomas Rivera Schatz, the president of the Senate. Ms. Vázquez came under intense legal scrutiny herself last year amid ethical complaints filed by the Office of the Independent Special Prosecutor.
In November 2018, Ms. Vázquez faced allegations that she had improperly intervened on behalf of her daughter and son-in-law in a housing dispute. She was the first secretary of justice to face criminal charges, according to the Puerto Rican daily El Nuevo Dia. Ms. Vázquez was briefly suspended from her post as the investigation developed. But she was later cleared of any ethical violations by Judge Yazdel Ramos Colón, who said there was not sufficient evidence against her.
Ms. Vázquez was immediately reinstated to her post by Mr. Rosselló, a move that drew criticism because it came before the period of an appeal had passed.
The case at one point took a personal turn: Her husband, Jorge Díaz Reverón, a judge in Caguas, also came under investigation on matters related to the case. Mr. Díaz reportedly interviewed the agent investigating his daughter’s case and asked if he would be willing to testify on Ms. Vázquez’s behalf.
Mr. Diaz was ultimately cleared of any ethical violations by a Supreme Court judicial disciplinary committee.
Wanda Vázquez Garced Quick Facts
- A San Juan native, Vázquez worked for the Puerto Rico department of housing in the 1980s. She was then a district attorney for the island’s department of justice for 20 years, where she specialized in domestic and sexual abuse, according to local website El Nueva Dia.
- Wanda Vázquez Garced was appointed to head the office of women’s rights in 2010. However, during her time there she was criticized by women’s rights activists for her “poor performance” as well as a “lack of commitment to the protection of human rights,” according to Telemundo.
- She was nominated by Rosselló to be secretary of justice, a post she was sworn into in January 2017.
- Critics also said Vázquez, who once handled domestic and sexual abuse cases as a prosecutor, did not prioritize gender violence cases as secretary.
- Nearly two years after she became justice secretary, Vázquez became embroiled in a high-profile court case that turned some Puerto Ricans against her.
- Vázquez becomes Puerto Rico’s second female governor.
- Vázquez vowed to cooperate with U.S. authorities to fight corruption and oust all those accused of wrongdoing after federal agents arrested the island’s education secretary, Julia Keleher, and other government officials on corruption charges.
- Some protesters and opponents view Vazquez, essentially Puerto Rico’s attorney general, as too close to Ricardo Rosselló, whose administration has been marred by accusations of corruption.
“By principles and by my trajectory, the duty and responsibility in the public service are not negotiable. I recognize that in the privacy of a friendship and of a particular situation the frustrations and pressures of the day to day are expressed in an incorrect way, This procedure is human, but I cannot fail to express the profound regret that this whole situation causes me as a woman, as a mother, as a professional and as a citizen of this beautiful island. Certainly, to err is of humans and there is fortitude and courage in acknowledge it. You should reflect deeply on these actions. I think that by recognizing a wrong work you start, “said Vázquez Garced.
- Wanda Vázquez Garced Biography and Profile