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Protesters Demand Governor of Puerto Rico's Resignation

SubverseJul 19, 2019, 10:48:17 PM

Civil unrest erupted in Puerto Rico as support for the current Governor Ricardo Rosselló plummets. Protesters took to the streets since this past Saturday when chat logs between the Governor and his inner circle were leaked from encrypted messaging app Telegram.

The chat logs, released by Puerto Rico’s Center for Investigative Journalism, outline a variety of improprieties, such as profane messages between the governor and 11 men which locals consider insensitive, as well as finely established connections between the governor and special interest groups.

The chat messages included remarks considered ‘homophobic and misogynistic’ and joking about those who lost their lives in Hurricane Maria only two years prior. According to the Rosselló administration, the massive storm claimed 2,975 lives, but a subsequent Harvard study indicated that the death toll may be closer to 4,600.

Since the Saturday leak, outraged Puerto Ricans have taken to the streets, converging in San Juan outside La Fortaleza, the governor’s residence. The massive protests were met by police officers in riot gear using crowd control tactics like rubber bullets, pepper spray, and tear gas. Some protestors have smashed windows, but generally the protesters hold signs, march, and bang loudly on pots.

While the chat logs were a shock for the Puerto Rican people, the protests themselves are not simply about the leaks. The culmination of a twelve year economic recession, a debt crisis, as well as the mismanagement of infrastructure and the economy after Hurricane Maria has amalgamated into the perfect storm. This comes amidst the arrests of six individuals with direct ties to the Rosselló administration, resulting in the last straw form Puerto Ricans, regardless of whether the corruption was real, or simply perceived.

The protestors have called for Rosselló to put in his resignation by this Sunday, but there has been no direct response from the governor. While the governor may be silent on the issue, this has not stopped former governor Luis Fortuño from posting an open letter supporting the current governor’s resignation.

The letter states, “I call upon the governor... The future of PR is at stake and his figure makes it impossible to move on to the new chapter of our history.” Fortuño states that the current governor’s presence, “makes this process more difficult for everyone. For you, your family, our ideal and PR, let someone else finish your term.”

While there is widespread calls for the governor’s resignation, complications may arise due to Puerto Rico having no Lieutenant Governor to take his place, and the Secretary of State – the next in line for succession – is currently a vacant position.

Regardless of whether or not the governor chooses to step down the people of Puerto Rico are ready to continue demonstrations and protests. Representatives from labor movements and unions are calling for more protests this weekend, with large protests expected Friday, and a massive march planned at the Luis A. Ferré Express for Sunday.