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Ricardo Rosselló Article

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Ricardo Rosselló
Ricardo Rossello (cropped).jpg
12th Governor of Puerto Rico
Assumed office
January 2, 2017
Preceded by Alejandro García Padilla
Personal details
Ricardo Antonio Rosselló

(1979-03-07) March 7, 1979 (age 39)
San Juan, Puerto Rico, U.S.
Political party New Progressive
Other political
Democratic [1]
Spouse(s) Beatriz Areizaga
Parents Maga Nevares (mother)
Pedro Rosselló (father)
Residence La Fortaleza
Education Massachusetts Institute of
( BS)
University of Michigan ( MS, PhD)
Website Government website

Ricardo Antonio "Ricky" Rosselló Nevares [a] /ˌrsˈ/ (born March 7, 1979) is a Puerto Rican politician and scientist, the 12th and current governor of Puerto Rico. He is the son of former governor Pedro Rosselló.

Rosselló came to public life after his father Pedro Rosselló was elected as governor of Puerto Rico in 1992 and 1996. At the time, Ricardo was mostly known for his academic and athletic accomplishments, having represented Puerto Rico internationally in the International Mathematical Olympiads and by becoming a three-time junior tennis champion on the island.

Initially, however, Rosselló dedicated himself to the sciences. He graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering and economics and, later on, graduated from the University of Michigan with a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering. [2]

After obtaining his doctoral degree, Rosselló worked as a researcher at Duke University, focusing his work on stem cell research. He then published and presented his research on several venues while obtaining several awards in the process.

But after a few years in academia, Rosselló returned to the public life. In 2010, he founded the political advocacy group Boricua ¡Ahora Es! that advocated for changing the current political status of Puerto Rico. After several years of political advocacy, Rosselló announced that he would seek the nomination for governor of Puerto Rico under the New Progressive Party (PNP in Spanish). [3] Several months later he was elected governor during the 2016 general election.

Rosselló's political stances tend to be centrist on social issues. For instance, he supports legalization of medical marijuana but opposes its legalization for recreational use. [4] In terms of civil rights, Rosselló opposes same-sex marriage but respects the U.S. Supreme Court decision that established it. [5]

Early life and education

Rosselló was born 1979 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, the son of Pedro Rosselló, a doctor, and Maga Nevares, and is the youngest of three brothers including Juan Oscar (b. 1971) and Luis Roberto (b. 1973). He attended Colegio Marista de Guaynabo. Rosselló's paternal great-grandfather Pedro Juan Rosselló Batle immigrated in 1902 at the age of 23 from Lloseta, Mallorca, Spain. His brother Juan had arrived a year earlier. [6]

During Rosselló's high school years he was an athlete and a three-time junior tennis champion in Puerto Rico. He was selected to compete in the International Mathematical Olympiads. [7]

He earned a bachelor's degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2001 in biomedical engineering and economics, and a doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) in biomedical engineering from the University of Michigan. [8] As a college student he served as president of the Association of Puerto Rican Students at MIT and was the winner of the Dean's Office award for outstanding leadership and community service. Additionally, he was the recipient of the office of minority "academic excellence" award and was the youngest deputy leader in the International Mathematical Olympiads in 2000. As a researcher in college, Rosselló focused on adult stem cell research. [9]

Scientific career

After graduation, Rosselló worked as a researcher at Duke University. His work in the stem cell research area has been subject of several awards, such as the Biomaterials Conference STAR Award and has been recognized as a Scholar by the International Society of Neurobiology. His works have been published in several academic journals, including the Communicative & Integrative Biology Journal and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. [9]

He is a co-founder of Beijing Prosperous Biopharm, a medical company established in Beijing, China, that has developed various designer drugs aimed at prostate cancer, neurodegeneration problems, diabetes, and HIV. [10]

He has presented his research in various international conferences, including the Society for Biomedical Engineering, Orthopedic Research Society, and the Society for Biomaterials, where he was awarded two STAR research awards for outstanding research. [11]

Political career

Rosselló became involved in politics during the 2008 Puerto Rico gubernatorial election, when his father Pedro Rosselló lost a party primary against the eventual Governor Luis Fortuño. Rosselló was a Hillary Clinton delegate to the 2008 nominating convention and an Obama delegate to the 2012 convention. In 2008, he had a key role in Clinton's get-out-the-vote efforts for the June 1 Puerto Rico presidential primary, appearing in her final TV ad with several Democratic political leaders, including fellow statehooder Kenneth McClintock and commonwealth's Roberto Prats and José A. Hernández Mayoral. [12]

Following this event, Rosselló became a political commentator, writing columns for El Vocero, a daily newspaper published in San Juan, covering politics, science, healthcare and economics topics. Additionally, Rosselló appeared as a regular guest analyst in several political radio talk shows.[ citation needed]

He published a book that depicted the accomplishments of his father's administration (1993–2001). All copies of the limited edition print were exhausted in one day. To diffuse the message, he allowed the material to be public domain, and published it on the La Obra de Rosselló website for everyone to read. [13]

In 2012, Rosselló founded Boricua ¡Ahora Es!, a political advocacy group that advocates changing Puerto Rico's current political status. The movement featured a grass-roots educational campaign, [14] suggesting that involvement of the international community may be necessary for the United States government to take action. [15] Boricua ¡Ahora Es! actively campaigned during the 2012 Puerto Rico status referendum.

Gubernatorial campaign

Since 2012, Rosselló was mentioned as a potential gubernatorial candidate for the 2016 election cycle. [16] [17] [18] [19] [20]

In 2013, he began organizing a group of collaborators to build what he called Plan para Puerto Rico (Plan for Puerto Rico). This plan would serve as a blueprint to deal with the economic and political problems and Puerto Rico and by being built years before a candidacy, it would represent a more complete and realistic political agenda. In 2014, Rosselló utilized his political platform to perform several protest events against the policies of the incumbent Governor of Puerto Rico, Alejandro García Padilla. Some of these events included a march against a proposed Value Added Tax.[ citation needed]

On September 19, 2015, he confirmed his intention to run for Governor of Puerto Rico in the 2016 election, [21] and held a campaign rally the next day at Roberto Clemente Coliseum in San Juan that surpassed the previous attendance record held by Ricky Martin. At the rally, he endorsed Jenniffer González, a Republican, for Resident Commissioner. [22]

On June 5, 2016, Rosselló won the New Progressive Party primary against incumbent Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi, thus becoming the party's candidate for governor and heading to the general election against PPD candidate David Bernier. [23] He made Puerto Rican statehood the central issue of his campaign, and views statehood as the key to economic recovery. [24]

On November 8, 2016, Rosselló defeated five other gubernatorial candidates and was elected Governor of Puerto Rico, receiving 41% of the vote. He was sworn in on January 2, 2017. [25]


Rosselló (center) speaks in Utuado, Puerto Rico in March 2018

First days

Rosselló announced the designation of several of his members for the 17th Cabinet of Puerto Rico, including William Villafañe to be his Chief of Staff, Elías Sánchez Sifonte to be his representative on the Fiscal Oversight Board, Itza García as his Deputy Chief of Staff. [26]

Domestic policies

On his first day as governor, Rosselló signed six executive orders. His first executive order was the OE-2017-001, decreeing a state of fiscal emergency. The second order was the OE-2017-002, which creates the COF with the intent of obtaining, maximizing and overseeing more federal funds. The third executive order, OE-2017-003, looks to streamline the permit obtaining process for development of projects that promote a new or improved infrastructure for the lending of services for the citizens and for economic development within Puerto Rico. The fourth executive order, OE-2017-004, creates an interagency group of projects critical for the infrastructure, a collateral effect of the OE 2017-003. The fifth executive order, OE-2017-005, orders the implementation of the method of zero base budget for the preparation of the budget for the fiscal year 2017-2018. The last executive order Rosselló signed on his first day was the OE-2017-006; it decrees a public policy within the Government of Puerto Rico that guarantees equal pay and work for women employees. [27] [28] [29]

In July 2017, Rosselló signed a bill that enacts regulations and makes the use of marijuana legal for medicinal use. The move goes further than the executive order issued by his predecessor which in Roselló's words, "ignored the legislative process and, following an executive order, promulgated a regulation without due discussion with all sectors and representatives elected by the people." [30]

In December 2017, Rosselló signed the "New Government Law", which pretends to consolidate agencies in order to improve efficiency and save capital. Rosselló stated, "the objective is to establish a platform where we can reduce a 131 agencies to 30 or 35 agencies in Puerto Rico." [31]

Views on statehood

Rosselló was strongly in favor of statehood for Puerto Rico to help develop the economy and to help Puerto Rico's 500-year old colonial dilemma. "Colonialism is not an option .... It's a civil rights issue ... The time will come in which the United States has to respond to the demands of 3.5 million citizens seeking an absolute democracy" he stated. In January 2017 he announced that Puerto Ricans will be given an opportunity to vote in the fifth plebiscite on June 11, 2017, with three options: "Statehood", "Current Territorial Status" and "Independence/Free Association". It initially did not offer the second option, which was added at the request of United States Department of Justice (US-DOJ). [32] Around the same time, Puerto Rico's legislators are expected to vote on a bill that would allow the Governor to draft a state constitution and hold elections to choose senators and representatives to the U.S. Congress.[ citation needed]

On June 11, 2017, the results of the plebiscite were 97% in favor of statehood. However, the plebiscite results have been marred and been called into question. Due to months of calls for boycotting by his political rivals and confusion, the turnout for the plebiscite was 23% of the eligible electorate. Rosselló plans on creating a commission that will ensure the validity of the referendum in Congress. [33]

Regardless of the outcome of the votes, only U.S. Congress has the power to make the final decision on the status of Puerto Rico. [34]

Economic strategies

Rosselló with President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump following Hurricane Maria in 2017.

By the time Rosselló took office, the Puerto Rican government-debt crisis posed serious problems for the government which was saddled with outstanding debt of $70 billion or $12,000 per capita [35] at a time with a 45 percent poverty rate and 14.2% unemployment that is more than twice the mainland U.S. average. [36] [35]

The Commonwealth had been defaulting on many debts, including bonds, since 2015. Rosselló discussed the situation and sketched out his plans in an interview with the international Financial Times in mid January and indicated that he would seek an amicable resolution with creditors and also make fiscal reforms. "There will be real fiscal oversight and we are willing to sit down. We are taking steps to make bold reforms. ... What we are asking for is runway to establish these reforms and have Washington recognise that they have a role to play." He also implemented austerity measures, instructing Puerto Rican government agencies to cut operating expenses by 10 percent and reduce political appointees by 20 percent. [37]

To ensure funds would be available to pay for "essential" government services Rosselló signed a fiscal emergency law on January 28, 2017, that would allow for setting aside funds that might otherwise be required for debt payments. [38]

In late January, the federal control board created under PROMESA gave the government until February 28 to present a fiscal plan - including negotiations with creditors - to solve the problems. It is essential for Puerto Rico to reach restructuring deals to avoid a bankruptcy-like process under PROMESA. [39] A moratorium on lawsuits by debtors was extended to May 31. [40]

Rosselló hired investment expert Rothschild & Co to assist in convincing creditors to take deeper losses on Puerto Rico's debts than they had expected. The company was also exploring the possibility of convincing insurers that had guaranteed some of the bonds against default, to contribute more to the restructuring, according to reliable sources. The governor also planned to negotiate restructuring of about $9 billion of electric utility debt, a plan that could result "in a showdown with insurers". Political observers suggest that his negotiation of the electrical utility debt indicated Rosselló's intention to take a harder line with creditors. Puerto Rico has received authority from the federal government to reduce its debt with legal action and this may make creditors more willing to negotiate instead of becoming embroiled in a long and costly legal battle. [41]

On May 31, Rosselló unveiled his $9.56 billion proposed budget for the 2018 fiscal year. The budget prioritizes paying pensions, increasing spending in the island's health system, public safety, and transportation. At the same time, the budget proposes cutting in the departments of education, natural resources, housing, agriculture, correction, and justice. Of the education cuts, it includes over a $200 million cut for Puerto Rico's public university, which has experienced organized student strikes for over two months. The budget would direct $2 billion for the public pension system of Puerto Rico that is underfunded by about $50 billion. To balance this increase, the budget eliminates millions of dollars in annual subsidies to 78 municipalities of Puerto Rico, forcing the mayors to find funding in other areas. In addition, the budget focuses payments for the debt services and the federal control board. Rosselló also announced a tax reform which will produce tax breaks for the working class and retirees. [42] [43]


On February 5, 2018, Rosselló announced a broad education reform. The reform aim to incorporate school vouchers and charter schools into the bankrupt U.S. territory's education system. [44]

Personal life

Rosselló is the youngest of three brothers. Married since 2012, he and his wife Beatriz have one two-year-old child, daughter Claudia Beatriz, and a son, Pedro Javier Rosselló. [45] He has worked in South America alongside other stem cell doctors in developing better stem cell treatment. [46]


He claimed to have developed various drugs, but only later clarified that they are still in the research phase of development. [47]

He was accused by Bolivian author Lupe Andrade of plagiarizing her column Responsabilidad y democracia ("Accountability and Democracy"). He denied the claim and no legal action followed. [48] [49]





  • Ricky Rosselló (2012). Un Mejor Puerto Rico Es Posible. Editoria Universidad de Puerto Rico. ISBN  978-0-8477-0481-1. Analysis about the colonial status of Puerto Rico. [61]


  1. ^ This name uses Spanish naming customs: the first or paternal family name is Rosselló and the second or maternal family name is Nevares.


  1. ^ DGA Our Governors
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  5. ^ Rosario, Frances (2016-03-10). "Rosselló solo cree en el matrimonio heterosexual". El Nuevo Día (in Spanish). Retrieved 2016-12-05.
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  51. ^ Margarita Del Valle Y Olmedes De Nevárez United States Census, 1920
  52. ^ Oscar Nevárez Y Del Valle United States Census, 1920
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  60. ^ Ricardo Rosselló un 'mallorquín' gobernador de Puerto Rico
  61. ^ "Un mejor Puerto Rico es posible". Retrieved 2017-03-31.

External links

Party political offices
Preceded by
Luis Fortuño
New Progressive nominee for Governor of Puerto Rico
Most recent
Preceded by
Pedro Pierluisi
Chair of the Puerto Rico New Progressive Party
Political offices
Preceded by
Alejandro García Padilla
Governor of Puerto Rico