SAN JUAN (Reuters) – Huge and at instances violent protests in Puerto Rico confirmed no signal of stopping as labor unions on Thursday organized a Friday march to maintain up strain on the governor to resign, whereas dozens of weapons had been stolen in a raid on police firearms heart.
Demonstrators chant, sing, and wave Puerto Rican flags through the sixth day of protest calling for the resignation of Governor Ricardo Rossello in San Juan, Puerto Rico July 18, 2019. REUTERS/Gabriella N. Baez
Hundreds of protesters have jammed streets in San Juan since Saturday, calling on Governor Ricardo Rossello to step down after the leak of a raft of controversial and vulgar textual content messages between him and his closest allies. The scandal comes on the heels of a federal probe into authorities corruption on the bankrupt island.
The weapons had been stolen from a police station within the coastal metropolis of Guayama, which was vandalized with graffiti calling for the governor to resign or face bullets, based on a Thursday police assertion. The FBI was investigating, it stated.
The political turmoil comes at a vital stage within the U.S. territory’s chapter. It has additionally raised issues with U.S. lawmakers who’re weighing the island’s requests for billions of federal for healthcare and for restoration efforts following devastating hurricanes in 2017.
“Like by no means earlier than, all factions of the nation agree that Ricardo Rossello has to go,” Juan Cortés, president of the Central Federation of Employees, a public- and private-sector union, stated in an announcement.
Rossello stated on Thursday he continued to say sorry for what he has referred to as “improper” however not unlawful acts on his half, whereas affirming his dedication to stay in workplace.
“I acknowledge the big problem I’ve earlier than me as a result of current controversies, however I firmly imagine that we are able to restore belief and, after this painful and shameful course of, obtain reconciliation,” he stated in an announcement.
Two prime officers in Rossello’s administration, who had participated within the governor’s group chat, resigned on Saturday following the discharge by Puerto Rico journalist group Centro de Periodismo Investigativo of 889 pages of textual content messages. They confirmed how Rossello and his closest advisers exchanged memes, feedback that had been derogatory, misogynistic and homophobic, in addition to privileged data in a Telegram group chat.
Final week, U.S. authorities introduced indictments involving six individuals, together with two former high-ranking Puerto Rico authorities officers, who had been charged with conspiracy and different crimes in reference to tens of millions of in federal Medicaid and schooling funds.
Wednesday’s protest, the largest to this point, included singer and actor Ricky Martin and reggaeton artist Unhealthy Bunny.
Rossello acknowledged that folks have the proper to protest, however he chastised “just a few” protesters who he stated had clashed with and injured police.
Citing “questionable riot-control practices,” U.S. Consultant Nydia Velazquez, a New York Democrat, on Wednesday requested the U.S. Justice Division to guard the civil rights of protesters on the island by deploying personnel to “observe and doc” native police exercise.
“It’s my perception that the federal authorities should make use of all applicable mechanisms to forestall and tackle grievances stemming from alleged abusive practices,” she stated in a letter, including she was troubled by studies that federal immigration brokers will probably be concerned in policing protests.
In the meantime, a spokesman for Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCL.N), which canceled stops in San Juan for 2 ships this week, citing “unrest” in Puerto Rico’s capital metropolis, stated a 3rd ship docked there on Thursday.
Reporting By Karen Pierog in Chicago, further reporting by Luis Valentin Ortiz in San Juan