Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Protestors crowd the street leading to the governor's mansion on July 15, 2019 in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Protestors crowd the street leading to the governor's mansion on July 15, 2019 in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. (Photo: Jose Jimenez/Getty Images)

 

'Time for Puerto Rico to Wake Up and Rise Up': Thousands Take to Streets Demanding Embattled Governor Resign

"He does not deserve the job he has, and the people have spoken."

Eoin Higgins

Thousands of Puerto Rican protesters filled the streets of the capital San Juan on Monday night for a third day of protests calling for the immediate resignation of Governor Ricardo Rosselló after obscene messages between him and his staff were revealed.

Chanting "Ricky Renuncia," or "Ricky Resign," demonstrators clashed with police in front of La Fortaleza, the 16th century-built governor's mansion in the neighborhood of Old San Juan.

"It was time for Puerto Rico to wake up and rise up against the oppressors, and we want to force the resignation of Governor Ricardo Rosselló," said Puerto Rico resident Rafaela Estevez. "He does not deserve the job he has, and the people have spoken."

Protesters set fire to trash cans and overturned cars Monday while police fired tear gas into the crowd and made arrests. 

The leaked messages show a dismissive attitude on the part of Rosselló, a Democrat, and other government officials to the Puerto Rican people and their concerns as the U.S. territory struggles to recover from 2017's Hurricane Maria. In the messages, which were sent using the app Telegram, officials joked about victims of the hurricane and referred to political adversaries in vulgar terms. 

"The chat was the final straw," protester Norma Jean Colberg told The New York Times.

In one exchange, Rosselló and his chief fiscal officer Christian Sobrino discussed San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, who intends to run against Rosselló for governor in 2020. Sobrino told Rosselló Sobrino would like to shoot the mayor, to which Rosselló replied, "You'd be doing me a grand favor."

Cruz, who progressives see as the antidote to the corporate-friendly Rosselló, said over the weekend that the scandal has only made the people of Puerto Rico—furious at the treatment and lack of aid they have received from the President Donald Trump administration—more distrustful of the current leadership on the island.

In response to the leaked chats, Rosselló expressed remorse and asked for forgiveness, but said he would stay on in office. 

"We do not give up on the work under way," the governor said in a statement, "and today, more than ever, many people are counting on my commitment to that work."

But it may not be up to the governor. Demonstrators were calling for Rosselló's impeachment and, on Monday, Denis Márquez, a representative in the territory's legislature, introduced a formal complaint against the governor, the first step toward Rosselló's potential removal from office. 

Resident Estevez said that she hoped the message would get across to lawmakers that the people were fed up and that change is needed on the island.

"Even if the Legislature does not care one dime about the people, they are there because of us," said Estevez. "And we are showing them, giving them a lesson that they have to remember we pay their wages."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

US Judge Says Mar-a-Lago Affidavit 'Can Be Unsealed' With Redactions

"This is going to be a considered, careful process, where everybody's rights, the government's and the media's, will be protected," declared U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart.

Jessica Corbett ·


Federal Judge Orders Starbucks to Rehire Fired Union Organizers in Memphis

"It was a ruling in favor of what's right," said one member of the Memphis Seven. "We knew from day one that we were going to win this, it just took time."

Brett Wilkins ·


Activists Arrested While Protesting 'Dirty Pipeline Deal' Outside Schumer's Office

"Sen. Schumer is sacrificing frontline communities and our clean energy future, all to placate a coal baron," said one organizer, referring to the majority leader's side agreement with Sen. Joe Manchin.

Kenny Stancil ·


Ex-CFO Allen Weisselberg Pleads Guilty to 15 Felonies, Set to Testify Against Trump Organization

The former executive will serve only five months on Rikers Island if he testifies in the upcoming criminal trial of the business.

Jessica Corbett ·


Biden Urged to Take Steps to Finally Get Rid of DeJoy as He Plows Ahead With Job Cuts

"Claims that Biden can't do anything to oust DeJoy are misleading," said one watchdog group.

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo