The People of Puerto Rico Deserve Better: Huge Protest Scheduled This Eve Following Corruption, Offensive Leaks From Rosselló Administration

Puerto Rico Ricardo Rossello Belatina
Thousands march to the Capitol Building and governor's mansion Monday in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Photo: Jose Jimenez/Getty Images

Ricardo Rosselló is under fire as the Puerto Rican community on and off the island have been unrelenting in their demand that he resign from his position as the Governor of Puerto Rico, following the leak over the weekend of nearly 900 text messages exchanged between Rosselló and current and former members of his cabinet. The devastating leak of messages, a chat shared via a private messaging app called Telegram, contained homophobic and sexist slurs that Rosselló and 11 male colleagues hurled at politicians and other public figures who have been critical of the current administration of the commonwealth.

Protests began in Old San Juan on Monday night, erupting into a clash in which law enforcement employed rubber bullets and tear gas to try and dispel what was an intense but controlled gathering. On Tuesday, Royal Caribbean canceled cruises scheduled to dock in Puerto Rico, fearing an escalation of violence at the protest. 

The protest is expected to continue through at least this evening when it will likely be at its largest due to high-profile calls to action and the governor’s resignation on social media. Lin Manuel-Miranda has been tweeting the #RickyRenuncia hashtag over the past day or so, while Bad Bunny will be leaving his current tour to join in the protest, having called upon his followers to show up at a rally at 5pm in front of Rosselló’s headquarters. He shared his thoughts on IGTV earlier this week, imploring the people of Puerto Rico and the world-at-large to join together in solidarity and have no fear while exercising their constitutional rights to protest their government. “BARRIOS!!! CASERIOS!!! URBANIZACIONES!!!! TODO EL MUNDO!! PUERTO RICO UNIDOOO Y SIN MIEDOOO!! AQUÍ NO HAY MIEDO PUÑETAA!!!!” 

 

Prior to the leak of texts, Arizona Representative Raul Grijalva had issued a statement urging Rosselló to clean house following the arrest of officials accused of corruption. The revelation that millions of dollars of aid had been mishandled by elected officials is yet another layer to the anger and betrayal that Rosselló’s critics are feeling now. Grijalva was pragmatic in his statement. “Announcing a zero-tolerance attitude toward corruption is easy. Taking meaningful steps to prevent and punish it is leadership,” he wrote. “The Puerto Rican people deserve a government that takes public service seriously, that’s transparent and accountable, and that doesn’t let this happen in the first place.” He has since called for Rosselló’s resignation.

As of now, Rosselló has expressed that he does not intend to step down from his position and that he has been chastened by the text revelations that contained not only offensive material but also were a forum in which the current administration was sharing political information with people who were no longer working as or for elected officials. “I’m going to continue,” he said in a radio interview. “We are all bruised — I’m bruised — but I recognize it, and I have to get back up.” The New York Times added that his wife has also publicly expressed her support for her husband, in what is an overly simplistic synopsis of the events that have been roiling the people of Puerto Rico: “He made a mistake, understood that and immediately apologized.” 

The impeachment of Rosselló was brought up by a legislator earlier this week, but is not currently an option that the majority of Puerto Rico’s legislative body plans to pursue at this time. “This week he’ll meet with mayors, with legislators, and we have to give him this time,” said Carlos Méndez Núñez to reporters over the weekend. Méndez Núñez is the president of Puerto Rico’s house of representatives. “Impeachment isn’t on the table yet. But we reserve the right to evaluate if that’s merited.”