SAN JUAN (Reuters) – Police in San Juan fired tear fuel on Monday evening to disperse hundreds of protesters demanding Puerto Rico’s governor resign over offensive chat messages, the most recent scandal to hit a bankrupt island struggling to get better from 2017 hurricanes.
Police moved in at round 11 p.m. to interrupt up protesters nonetheless on the streets of San Juan’s previous metropolis following day-long demonstrations by a whole bunch of hundreds of residents, in keeping with tweets and movies from the scene.
Governor Ricardo Rosselló on Sunday mentioned he wouldn’t search re-election subsequent yr and would step down as head of the New Progressive Social gathering however the concessions didn’t appease demonstrators, who known as for him to instantly give up the governorship.
The island’s largest newspaper known as on the first-term governor to depart workplace and reported over 500,000 protesters took to the streets of San Juan.
U.S. President Donald Trump additionally blasted the 40-year-old governor, who’s affiliated with the U.S. Democratic Social gathering.
“He’s a horrible governor,” Trump mentioned on the White Home on Monday, after feuding with Rosselló in 2017 over the pace and scale of the federal response to Hurricane Maria.
“You’ve got completely grossly incompetent management on the prime of Puerto Rico,” he mentioned.
In San Juan, demonstrators wearing black T-shirts crammed the town’s largest freeway and marched within the pouring rain with celebrities like Ricky Martin and Reggaeton star Daddy Yankee within the 10th day of generally violent protests.
“In Puerto Rico we don’t observe dictators. It’s time so that you can go,” a drenched Martin, 47, the goal of homophobic messages in Rossello’s chats, advised cheering crowds.
“Despacito” singer Daddy Yankee was amongst protesters who headed to San Juan’s previous metropolis the place they demonstrated in entrance of police and orange plastic boundaries close to the governor’s official residence, a mansion referred to as “The Fortress.”
San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, an opposition politician working for governor in 2020, mentioned Rosselló had run out of time.
“The nation can’t put up with this anymore,” Yulin Cruz mentioned in a video posted from protests, carrying a black T-shirt with the message “The ability is on the street.”
Rosselló on Monday once more requested Puerto Ricans to present him one other probability.
“I used phrases that I apologized for however I’ve additionally taken vital actions within the path of serving to susceptible sectors,” Rosselló advised Fox Information, explaining he had made coverage adjustments vital to ladies and the LGBTQ neighborhood.
These two teams have been frequent targets of misogynistic and homophobic messages exchanged between Rosselló and prime aides in 889 pages of on-line group chats revealed July 13 by Puerto Rico’s Middle for Investigative Journalism.
The crass messages confirmed a political elite intent on sustaining energy on an island the place folks nonetheless dwell underneath blue tarpaulins two years after hurricanes ripped roofs off their properties and killed over three,000 folks.
Protests have introduced collectively Puerto Ricans from completely different political events, and non-political islanders to vent anger at alleged corruption within the administration and its dealing with of hurricane restoration efforts.
“The one good factor you probably did was to unite the folks,” learn a placard held by a protester in San Juan’s previous metropolis.
Anti-Rosselló demonstrations have been additionally held in cities throughout the US comparable to Los Angeles, New York and Boston which have giant Puerto Rican communities.
Demonstrations in San Juan prompted a minimum of two cruise ships to cancel stops within the metropolis on Monday. MSC cruises advised its MSC Seaside vessel to go to St. Maarten as an alternative, mentioned spokeswoman Paige Rosenthal
“The protection and safety of our visitors and crew is our primary precedence,” Rosenthal mentioned in an e mail.
A string of U.S. Democratic presidential candidates and lawmakers have known as for Rosselló to step apart, with Beto O’Rourke including his identify to the record on Monday.
Puerto Rico’s non-voting consultant to the U.S. Congress Jenniffer González, seen as a doable candidate for governor, has additionally known as on the governor to go.
Puerto Rico Home Speaker Carlos Mendez, a part of Rosselló’s New Progressive Social gathering, appointed an impartial panel on Friday to research whether or not the chats warranted impeachment.
The political turmoil comes at a important stage within the island’s chapter because it tries to restructure some $120 billion in debt and pension obligations.
It has additionally raised issues amongst U.S. lawmakers who’re weighing the island’s requests for billions of federal for healthcare and work to get better from Hurricane Maria.
Reporting by Marco Bello; Extra reporting by Luis Valentin Ortiz in San Juan, Karen Pierog in Chicago, Zach Fagenson in Miami, Wealthy McKay in Atlanta, Roberta Rampton in Washington and Peter Szekeley and Jonathan Allen in New York; writing by Scott Malone and Andrew Hay; enhancing by Jonathan Oatis, Chris Reese, Lisa Shumaker and Michael Perry