Puerto Rico Governor Resigns After Two Weeks of Protests

Puerto Rico Governor Resigns After Two Weeks of Protests
Photo Credit: Reuters / TPG Images
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Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló resigns under the pressure of massive protests.

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By Ángel Carrión

The governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rosselló, has resigned after two weeks of massive protests and intergenerational civil unrest. In the absence of a secretary of state, Secretary of Justice Wanda Vázquez will become governor. Rosselló's resignation is effective as of 5:00 p.m. on August 2.

Photo Credit: Reuters / TPG Images
People wave Puerto Rican flags as they attend a rally to celebrate the resignation of Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rosselló in San Juan, Puerto Rico on July 25, 2019.

This self-convened and growing national movement erupted as a result of an intricate corruption scheme and a leaked Telegram chat containing sexist, misogynistic, homophobic and body-shaming language, along with the discussion of public policy among members and non-members of Rosselló's cabinet.

The leaked Telegram chat was preceded by the federal arrests of high ranking members of Rosselló's administration, including the former Secretary of Education, Julia Keleher, on charges which include money laundering, wire fraud and theft, among others.

The 14 consecutive days of demonstrations included daily protests at the governor’s mansion. The protests soon spread to many other municipalities of Puerto Rico. The largest was held on July 22, estimated to have attracted as many as 600,000 people in San Juan alone.

Photo Credit: Reuters / TPG Images
Demonstrators raise their fists during ongoing protests calling for the resignation of Governor Ricardo Rosselló in San Juan, Puerto Rico on July 24, 2019.

The protest wasn't limited to Puerto Rico. Several demonstrations were convened in countries where Puerto Ricans are resident, including Spain, Argentina, Slovenia, France, The Netherlands and the United States.

The protests in Puerto Rico have been exceptionally peaceful, as pointed out by cultural anthropologist and essayist Rima Brusi on Twitter. But the police have been accused of using excessive force, violating the police reforms ordered by Federal Courts. Protesters also returned the following day to areas where protests were held to help clean up.

Several days before the news broke of Rosselló's resignation, Xiomara Torres Rivera, a columnist for the journalism project Todas, reminded readers that the real work would start once the governor left office:

Today we are the focus of the world's attention because we dared to turn words into action, to transform our anger into mobility. To demand [the governor's] resignation is only the beginning. We have before us a lot of reflecting to do to be able to take other decisions and not look back. To dare to demand the country that we deserve. A citizen audit, a cancellation of the [public] debt, an education with gender perspective, decent healthcare and retirement and a government with individuals who put the needs of the people first.

The News Lens has been authorized to publish this article from Global Voices, a border-less, largely volunteer community of more than 1400 writers, analysts, online media experts, and translators.

TNL Editor: Daphne K. Lee (@thenewslensintl)

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