Puerto Rico opposition leader dead at 48

Puerto Rico opposition leader dead at 48
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Héctor Ferrer Ríos, the outgoing president of Puerto Rico's main opposition party, died Monday of complications related to esophageal cancer. 

Ferrer, 48, stepped down as chairman of the Popular Democratic Party (PPD) in October, citing health concerns.

Héctor Enrique Ferrer Santiago, Ferrer's oldest son, announced his father's death at a San Juan hospital Monday. 

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, a member of the ruling New Progressive Party (PNP), on Monday called for a five-day islandwide mourning period to remember Ferrer.

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"Today I receive the sad news of the physical departure not of a political opponent, but of a friend. In spite of our different visions, Hector was always available for dialogue, to build bridges, to seek out consensus for the good of the island. Today I elevate my prayers for his eternal rest," Rosselló said in a statement.

Ferrer was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in 2015 and, despite the disease, mounted a return to politics after having retired to private life in 2012.

In 2016, he ran for resident commissioner of Puerto Rico — the territory's nonvoting delegate in Congress — but lost to current Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González-Colón (R), a member of the PNP.

The following year, Ferrer was elected as chairman of the PPD.

Aside from leading the left-wing pro-commonwealth party, Ferrer was also a well-known athlete.

He attended the University of North Carolina on a baseball scholarship and later played in the minor leagues in Puerto Rico.

Ferrer is survived by two sons and a daughter.