Puerto Rico Governor Clings to Power as Protests Over ‘Chatgate’ Enter 2nd Week

July 23, 2019 by HJ Mai
Demonstrators rally at Lake Eola park Monday, July 22, 2019 in downtown Orlando, Fla., in support of Puerto Ricans and their demand that the island's governor, Ricardo Rossello, resign immediately. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/TNS)

Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets of San Juan, Puerto Rico, for a second straight week demanding the resignation of Gov. Ricardo Rosselló. The demonstrations arose after hundreds of pages of offensive chat messages between the governor and nearly a dozen of his close associates were leaked on July 13. 

The chat messages, which were published by Puerto Rico’s Center of Investigative Journalism, contain explicit exchanges between Rosselló and 11 top aides and cabinet members, including Rosselló’s secretary of state, his public affairs secretary and a former representative to a board overseeing Puerto Rico’s bankruptcy crisis.

CNN described the content of the messages, which were sent in December 2018 and January 2019, as “profanity-laced, homophobic and misogynistic.” For example, Rosselló called the former speaker of the New York City Council, Melissa Mark-Viverito, a “whore” for not backing Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez’s push for Puerto Rico statehood. 

“Our people should come out and defend Tom and beat up that whore,” the governor wrote.

Despite the large public outcry, Rosselló made clear that he has no intention of resigning as governor of the U.S. territory. However, in a brief video posted to Facebook on Sunday, he announced that he will not seek reelection in 2020 and step down as president of the pro-statehood New Progressive Party. 

“In spite of everything, I recognize that apologizing isn’t enough, that only my work will help restore confidence,” the governor said.

A number of U.S. politicians, as well as President Donald Trump have criticized Rosselló and urged him to resign.

“He’s a terrible governor,” Trump said at the White House on Monday. The president has been at odds with the governor after Rosselló’s complaints about the speed and scale of the federal response to Hurricane Maria. 

New York mayor and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Bill de Blasio called the governor’s behavior “entirely inappropriate.” 

“While Puerto Ricans attempt to heal from Hurricane Maria, he mocks victims for a cheap laugh,” de Blasio said. “Governor Rosselló should resign immediately.”

Fellow 2020 presidential candidates Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and former HUD Secretary Julian Castro also joined the calls for Rosselló’s resignation.

Puerto Rico, which declared bankruptcy in 2017, is still yet to recover from the devastation left by Hurricane Maria. The deadly Category 5 hurricane destroyed the island’s infrastructure and killed more than 3,000 people. 

While “Chatgate” may turn out to be his ultimate downfall, Rosselló’s political problems began with Hurricane Maria. Almost two years after the hurricane made landfall, there are still people without electricity or a roof over their head. In addition, the rampant corruption on the island caught up with him. 

Shortly before chat messages were leaked, two of Rosselló’s top former officials — his former secretary of education and former Health Insurance Administration head — were arrested by the FBI on fraud and corruption charges.

The Associated Press reported on Tuesday that a judge in Puerto Rico issued search warrants for phones of government officials tied to chats that sparked political crisis.

In The News

Biden, Harris Form Presidential Inaugural Committee
Political News
Biden, Harris Form Presidential Inaugural Committee
November 30, 2020
by Dan McCue

WILMINGTON, Del. - President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris unveiled their Presidential Inaugural Committee on Monday, as preparations continue for their swearing in on Jan. 20. Although final plans for the inauguration are still somewhat up in the air due to the ever-changing circumstances... Read More

Hospitals Race to Set Vaccine Priorities for Health Care Workers
Health
Hospitals Race to Set Vaccine Priorities for Health Care Workers

Large hospital systems are grappling with how best to decide which health care workers will be vaccinated first for COVID-19, a daunting task when it's unclear which shots they'll get, how many and when they'll arrive. The first COVID-19 vaccine could be cleared for U.S. use as soon... Read More

Q&A: Some Burning Questions for Georgia's Senate Runoffs
State News
Q&A: Some Burning Questions for Georgia's Senate Runoffs

ATLANTA — There are a few certainties about the all-important runoffs in Georgia: The Jan. 5 contests will decide control of the U.S. Senate, set soaring spending records, attract the shiniest stars from both parties and put Georgia at the center of the political universe. But much remains up in the air about... Read More

Biden Builds All-Female Communications Team Headed by Obama Alum
White House
Biden Builds All-Female Communications Team Headed by Obama Alum

WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden has built a senior communications team composed entirely of women, including Jen Psaki to be the face of the administration as White House press secretary, his transition said Sunday. Psaki, a former Obama White House communications director and State Department spokeswoman, has been an on-camera spokeswoman for Biden's transition office. Kate Bedingfield, deputy... Read More

Iran Under Pressure Over How to Respond to Top Scientist's Killing
Geopolitics
Iran Under Pressure Over How to Respond to Top Scientist's Killing

BEIRUT — The U.S. drone missile punched through the car of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, instantly killing the 62-year-old Iranian spymaster and national hero as he drove through the streets of Baghdad last January. Days later, Iranian leaders who swore "severe revenge" lobbed ballistic missiles at a U.S. base in Iraq, leaving scores of... Read More

Fauci, Birx Voice Dire Post-Thanksgiving Warnings on COVID
Health
Fauci, Birx Voice Dire Post-Thanksgiving Warnings on COVID

Top federal officials voiced dire predictions of a nationwide post- Thanksgiving surge in COVID cases on Sunday. "What we expect, unfortunately, as we go for the next couple of weeks into December, (is) that we might see a surge superimposed upon that surge that we're already in," Dr. Anthony... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top