SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Hector Ferrer, the former president of Puerto Rico’s Popular Democratic Party, has died. He was 48.
Placing colors aside and political believes, Gov. Ricardo Rossello declared five days of mourning in a statement Monday in which he called Ferrer a tremendous person and said he considered Ferrer a friend despite being leader of the island’s main opposition party.
Ferrer was an attorney and former senator who stepped down as party president last month, citing his battle with cancer of the esophagus. He served as a senator from 2000 to 2012 and was well known for his love and promotion of sports.
Ferrer is survived by his parents, a brother, two sons and a daughter.
That issue and his health made him revoke in October of his intention to remain as president of the PPD and eventually become the candidate for the governorship of his party.
In addition to politics, he was passionate about sports. And that fighting spirit that made him participate for years in the competitions of “Iron Man” also kept him to the end in his battle for life.
Ferrer Ríos, who was born in 1970, belonged to the new generation of popular politicians that emerged after the retreat from the active political life of former Governor Rafael Hernández Colón, who together with his collaborators controlled the PPD for 25 years.
He came to the Legislature with impetus in 2000 as district representative and under the presidency of Carlos Vizcarrondo. He immediately caught the interest of journalists as an alternate spokesman for the then popular majority in the House.
He stood out from the beginning in the governmental budgetary subject. He used to study his arguments on this subject and he is remembered for the clear and simple exposition of his ideas.
But he also had to face difficult moments, such as the failed confirmation of Marisara Pont as Secretary of State in 2005, the first year of the administration of Aníbal Acevedo Vilá.
The appointment, which had already been confirmed by the Senate, was validated in the Chamber on the first ballot, with two affirmative votes from the majority penepé that joined those of the popular minority.But Ferrer Ríos paid the harassment when he accepted that a second vote be held, at the request of the New Progressives, who then voted in bloc against the nominee.
The nomination of Secretary of State is one of the few that requires the confirmation of the two legislative bodies.
Being the grandson of the deceased popular ex-senator Mariano Rios, he confronted Ferrer Ríos in many parliamentary debates due to the corruption case in which his grandfather had been involved a few years before. He always put before any political consideration the fact that Ríos was his grandfather and he defended his family bond.
He was an ambitious young man in politics and always had his sights set on the Fortress. More conservative than in the first years, in 2016, after a first battle against esophageal cancer, he was a candidate for resident commissioner in Washington and lost by less than 2% in front of the candidate penepé Jenniffer González.
By 2020, he wanted to seek a candidacy for governor, but even before his health relapse last September, that goal seemed to begin to elude him due to complaints of contracts with a Washington lobbyist.