SAN JUAN (Reuters) – Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló may step down on Wednesday after nearly two weeks of protests towards his administration, sparked by the publication of offensive chat messages and a corruption scandal, native media reported.
Demonstrators chant and wave Puerto Rican flags throughout the eleventh day of protest calling for the resignation of Governor Ricardo Rossello in San Juan, Puerto Rico. July 24, 2019. REUTERS/Gabriella N. Baez
Rosselló had made no announcement by early Wednesday, however media, together with El Nuevo Día newspaper, cited unnamed sources as saying his resignation was imminent.
Protesters had cheered these reviews late on Tuesday however warned his departure wouldn’t finish the demonstrations that had been now coming into their 12th day.
The island of three.2 million individuals has been rocked by a number of crises lately, together with a chapter submitting and a significant hurricane in 2017 that killed about three,000 individuals.
If Rosselló does step down, his substitute because the U.S. territory’s chief would probably be Justice Secretary Wanda Vazquez, whom protesters reject due to her ties to Rosselló.
The governor’s chief-of-staff resigned on Tuesday as prosecutors investigated the scandal, which got here at about the identical time as federal investigators charged two former high-ranking Puerto Rico authorities officers with conspiracy.
The collection of resignations has additionally unsettled the chapter course of the island goes by means of.
The protests had been spurred by the publication on July 13 of chat messages here on the messaging app Telegram, during which Rosselló and aides used profane language to explain feminine politicians and homosexual Puerto Rican celebrities, together with Ricky Martin.
A string of Rosselló’s closest aides have stepped down over the scandal. His chief of employees Ricardo Llerandi was the newest handy in his resignation on Tuesday, citing issues for the protection of his household.
The uncertainty over Rosselló’s future has additionally difficult Puerto Rico’s chapter proceedings.
The federal choose listening to that circumstances, Laura Taylor Swain, at a listening to in San Juan on Wednesday is predicted to obtain updates from Puerto Rico’s federally created monetary oversight board and the island’s authorities.
A board spokesman stated on Tuesday plan for restructuring the majority of Puerto Rico’s authorities debt was shifting ahead and can be submitted in court docket “as quickly as moderately doable,” regardless of the unsettled political scenario.
However the latest resignation of Puerto Rico’s authorities liaison to the board and the top of the federal government’s fiscal authority has difficult the method, in keeping with two individuals conversant in the matter, who requested to not be named because of the sensitivity of talks.
“The board’s communication with the federal government has stalled,” one of many sources stated.
In an announcement on Tuesday, the board stated it hoped “the political course of swiftly resolves the present governance disaster so Puerto Rico can transfer ahead to rebuild belief and to focus authorities on these it’s right here to serve.”
Matt Fabian, who heads market and credit score analysis at Municipal Market Analytics, stated it might be “inappropriate” for the board to push forward with the debt restructuring now.
“The commonwealth must consolidate its management, determine who’s in cost and have the federal government re-legitimatize itself,” he stated.
Puerto Rican officers on Tuesday executed search warrants for the cellphones of Rosselló and 11 prime officers concerned within the leaked message group chats.
Puerto Rico’s Justice Division first requested the telephones final Wednesday as a part of its investigation into the chat scandal, nicknamed “Rickyleaks.”
Solely Llerandi has to date stated publicly he has handed in his telephone.
Mariana Cobian, a Justice Division spokeswoman, declined to say whether or not the governor had surrendered his cell phone.
A primary-term governor in his first elected workplace, 40-year-old Rosselló for nearly two weeks has resisted calls to step down, although he has vowed to not search re-election in 2020.
“The persons are speaking and I’ve to pay attention,” Rosselló stated in an announcement on Tuesday. He has apologized a number of instances for the chats and requested Puerto Ricans to present him one other probability.
However the island’s main newspaper, in addition to distinguished U.S. Democratic officers and Republican President Donald Trump, have known as on Rosselló to step down.
Reporting by Nick Brown; extra reporting by Marco Bello and Luis Valentin Ortiz in San Juan, Karen Pierog in Chicago and Wealthy McKay in Atlanta; writing by Scott Malone; Enhancing by Bernadette Baum