SAN JUAN (Reuters) – 1000’s of individuals blocked a serious San Juan freeway on Monday in a protest aimed toward forcing Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló to resign over offensive chat messages, the most recent scandal to hit a bankrupt island struggling to get better from lethal 2017 hurricanes.
Rosselló’s announcement on Sunday that he wouldn’t search re-election subsequent yr and would step down as head of the New Progressive Get together appeared to have little impact on the crowds, who known as for him to right away give up the governorship. The island’s largest newspaper on Monday known as on the first-term governor to depart workplace.
Crowds of individuals, many wearing black T-shirts and waving the U.S. island territory’s flag, stuffed a serious freeway in San Juan within the newest in a collection of greater than per week of generally violent protests within the capital and elsewhere.
“They’ll’t deny it: The ability is on the street,” San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz wrote in a Twitter message on Monday.
“These governments are corrupt governments,” mentioned Martin Gonzalez, who joined Monday’s march. “The folks should make themselves be revered. And we take to the streets to be revered.”
Rosselló, 40, requested for forgiveness and mentioned he revered the desires of Puerto Ricans in a message broadcast on-line on Sunday.
“I do know that apologizing isn’t sufficient,” Rosselló mentioned in a video posted on Fb. “A major sector of the inhabitants has been protesting for days. I’m conscious of the dissatisfaction and discomfort they really feel. Solely my work will assist restore the belief of those sectors.”
The publication on July 13 of sexist and homophobic chat messages between Rosselló and high aides unleashed simmering resentment over his dealing with of devastating hurricanes in 2017, alleged corruption in his administration, and the island’s chapter course of.
The protests had been additionally sparked by U.S. authorities’ announcement of a federal indictment involving six folks, together with two former high-ranking Puerto Rico authorities officers, charged with conspiracy and different crimes in reference to thousands and thousands of in federal Medicaid and schooling funds.
Puerto Rico’s largest newspaper, El Nuevo Dia, known as on Rosselló to resign in an editorial printed on Monday.
“Puerto Rico has spoken up, not solely as a powerful, broad and united voice however as the proper voice,” the editorial mentioned. “With a gesture of the Aristocracy and humility, Governor, it’s time to hearken to the folks. It’s important to resign.”
‘POWER OF THE PEOPLE’
Puerto Rico’s non voting consultant to the U.S. Congress in addition to Democratic presidential candidates and lawmakers have known as for the governor to step apart after 9 days of generally violent protests.
Puerto Rico Home Speaker Carlos Mendez, a part of Rosselló’s New Progressive Get together, appointed an impartial panel on Friday to analyze whether or not the chats warranted impeachment.
The political turmoil comes at a essential stage within the island’s chapter course of 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, which led to just about three,000 deaths.
Puerto Rican celebrities together with pop singer Ricky Martin, a goal of the governor’s chats, meringue singer Olga Tañón and rapper Dangerous Bunny joined the protest crowds.
“I need to really feel the facility of the folks,” Martin, 47, mentioned in a Fb video, urging legislative leaders to begin an impeachment course of.
Further reporting by Luis Valentin Ortiz in San Juan, Karen Pierog in Chicago, Zach Fagenson in Miami, Wealthy McKay in Atlanta and Peter Szekeley and Jonathan Allen in New York, writing by Scott Malone; Modifying by Kevin Liffey and Jonathan Oatis