Friday, September 20, 2019

Puerto Ricans rallied in San Juan calling for the resignation of Gov. Ricardo Rosselló

With chants of “Ricky, renuncia!” (“Ricky, resign!”) tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans marched and rallied in Old San Juan yesterday in a massive protest calling for the resignation of Gov. Ricardo Rosselló.

Puerto Ricans from across the island gathered in the U.S. territory’s capital, joined by high-profile stars such as Ricky Martin, reggaeton stars Bad Bunny and Residente, award-winning actor Benicio Del Toro and beloved island celebrities like Tommy Torres, Karla Monroig and PJ Sin Suela, who rallied the crowd amid a sea of Puerto Rican flags, bullhorns and signs. Ashley Vadell, 27, said she went to the rally to take a stand against Rosselló’s “lack of respect and lack of sensitivity.”

Late last night, protesters threw items at police including bricks, glass and fireworks, authorities said. Police responded by firing tear gas in an attempt to clear the streets, and also shot rubber bullets into the crowd; according to authorities, at least seven protesters were arrested during the protests and four officers were injured.

Thousands have been protesting for five consecutive days, urging for Rosselló’s resignation in the wake of corruption investigations and the leaking of 889 pages of a private chat between the governor and some of his officials and close associates, who have submitted their resignations. The messages included profanity-laced, misogynistic and homophobic comments as well as barbed and cynical remarks about different topics, including the deaths following Hurricane Maria.

Rosselló said the chats were private remarks made as a way to blow off steam after long days, but top island officials, including members of his own party, have been highly critical and have given the governor a deadline to “reflect” and prove he can stay in office. “They made fun of our dead!” René Pérez Joglar, better known as the multiple Grammy-winning artist Residente, told NBC News in Spanish ahead of the rally. “People are angry with the things that the people in this Cabinet have done… The people don’t want him there, if he does not leave now, this is going to get worse,” Residente said.

Carlos Vargas-Ramos, a researcher at the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College-CUNY, said what’s notable is the way the reaction to the scandal has mobilized people “from all walks of life,” including different social classes, political parties and ideologies. “It seems unprecedented,” he said.

NBC NEWS