Monday, September 16, 2019

Puerto Rico governor says he is not resigning over chat scandal

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said yesterday that he has no plans to resign or give up his leadership of the pro-statehood New Progressive Party after a fierce public outcry over the release of profanity-laced and derogatory private chat messages with other officials and close associates.

Rosselló did say in a radio interview, however, that as a “tactical measure” he would think about whether he should seek re-election next year. The messages, which included homophobic and misogynistic comments, have been strongly condemned by other officials in his party and drawn protests outside the governor’s mansion in Old San Juan.

Some excerpts of the chats, on the instant messaging service Telegram, were leaked to local media on July 8th. In the chats, the group used disparaging and sexist terms to refer to San Juan’s mayor, Carmen Yulín Cruz, as well as former New York City Council President Melissa Mark-Viverito. They also belittled the death of independence movement leader Carlos Gallisá, slammed the federal control board overseeing the island’s finances and used a homophobic comment in relation to international pop star Ricky Martin, who is from Puerto Rico.

On Twitter, Martin urged Rosselló to step down; the governor “lacks the abilities of a true leader, who inspires, stimulates and guides by example so that our people attain a higher level of life.” Over the weekend, a group of mayors and officials from the governor’s New Progressive Party, including the president of Puerto Rico’s House of Representatives, Carlos “Johnny” Mendez, had urged Rosselló to “re-evaluate” and reflect on his position.”

On Saturday, Rosselló announced that other top officials who participated in the chats had submitted their resignations. The messaging scandal comes on the heels of the arrests of the island’s former secretary of education, Julian Keleher, and five other people on charges of steering federal money to unqualified, politically connected contractors.

NBC NEWS