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What Exactly is Happening in Puerto Rico Right Now?

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Photo Credit IG / Manifestantes protestan en contra del gobernador Ricardo Rosselló el miércoles 17 de julio de 2019 en San Juan, Puerto Rico. (AP Foto/Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo) #puertorico #rickymartin #rickyrenuncia #rickyrenunciaya

Puerto Rico is currently experiencing political discord, all because this past week a telegram chat of 889 pages was leaked. The controversial chat consisted of 12 people, including Puerto Rico’s highest ranked official (apart from the president), governor Ricardo Rosselló. The messages, also now known as Chatgate, created an uproar among Puerto Ricans and they are now demanding Ricardo Rosselló to resign. Puerto Ricans are using protests, social media platforms, and any means possible to express that things need to change in la isla del encanto

The contents of the chat unveiled some of the darkest thoughts of some of the more powerful people of Puerto Rico. These messages were laced with misogynistic, sexist, homophobic, among other vile comments. The women were called derogatory names and some of their homophobia made an appearance when they insulted Ricky Martin’s homosexuality. Aside from that, participants of this chat relished in their tasteless plots to conspire against other politicians (including from their own political party!) and how they rudely communicated their friction towards the federal board in charge of Puerto Rico’s finances by using middle finger emojis.

I’m assuming this telegram chat was originally meant to communicate messages of importance, but it turned out to be a chat fit for spoiled prepubescent children, not federal officials and supporting federal staff members. One can only conclude that these men, especially the governor Ricardo Rosselló, have no respect for the citizens of the island.

Two people involved in the chat have resigned already, Luis Rivera Marin, whose role was Secretary of State and Christian Sobrino, the once Chief Financial Officer Officer and representative on Puerto Rico’s fiscal oversight board. #RickyRenunciaYa, which translates to Resign Now Ricky, has been trending on Twitter for a few days, yet Ricardo Rosselló refuses to resign. He spoke out in a press conference and at a church (eye roll) asking for forgiveness. His wife, Beatriz Rosselló, also released a statement asking people to forgive as she had forgiven him already. This may have worked for the many Puerto Ricans of the older generation, but it’s not working for the younger generation. 

This wasn’t Puerto Rico’s first mess this month. A day before the leaked messages, the FBI made five arrests to officials that had been involved in the misappropriation of Puerto Rico’s money. More specifically, 15.5 million dollars were inappropriately moved to fund illegitimate politically-driven contractors by former Secretary of Education, Julia Keleher, and her assistant Glenda Ponce-Mendoza. Glenda’s sister, Mayra Ponce Mendoza, was also involved. The money was used for illegal lobbying by these contractors using money that was meant for the citizens. It’s utterly disgusting.

What’s even more unnerving is that Julia Keleher closed down hundreds of schools during her two-year regime because she felt as though the student population was declining. Yes, the same two years the 15.5 million dollars were thrown around carelessly. Imagine taking money from those who could really benefit from it. That type of negligence only affects the most in need — the future of Puerto Rico. 

After having to endure so much chaos in a short period of time, Puerto Ricans are rightfully fed up. They are using their constitutional right to protest and have been at it for several days. Monday, July 15th, marked the most populated protest of them all up until now. Thousands of protesters started at El Capitolio de Puerto Rico, which symbolizes their government and marched their way up to La Fortaleza (The Fortress) where the governor lives. For better context, think of La Fortaleza as the White House of the United States. 

Puerto Rico is not the only one seeing protests, the mainland is joining in as well. New York City, Miami, and Orlando are some of the cities that have joined forces with the #RickyRenunciaYa marches in Puerto Rico. Puerto Ricans all over are demanding an end misconduct from their government officials and the corruption that so often circulates the island. They feel don’t want to be governed by people who can risk their safety and wellbeing irresponsibly. 

“People are dying after Hurricane Maria, they are stealing from us [taxpayers] and nothing happens,” Jorge Valle, a Puerto Rican and a protester of the marches of Old San Juan, probably conveyed the frustration that many other Puerto Ricans feel.

The protests have been peaceful for the most part, but government officials have already tried to stop them. They have even gone as far as launching tear gas to the citizens protesting in Puerto Rico. However, that doesn’t seem to be stopping them. The people of Puerto Rico want action. They want a nation that will flourish once more. 

The famous Puerto Rican musicians Bad Bunny and Rene from Residente Calle 13 will be joining the marches in Puerto Rico tomorrow at 5 PM. Puerto Rico’s voice will be heard one way or another. 

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