Puerto Ricans Have Blocked Major Highway, Demanding Governor Rosselló Resignation
By Kelsey Marie
Thousands of Puerto Ricans have blocked one of the major highways, Las Americas Highway, launching a massive strike demanding the governor’s resignation.
After twelve days of heated protests, Puerto Ricans decided Monday to flood the highway and be heard.
This all started after text messages between Gov. Ricardo Rosselló and 11 members of his inner circle were leaked and published last Tuesday.
There were over 900 pages leaked and they all consist of sexist, homophobic and profane slurs about political rivals and cultural figures.
Messages containing jokes about dead bodies from Hurricane Maria, which destroyed the island in September 2017, were also included.
Gov. Rosselló went on Facebook Live on Sunday evening to say, “I have made mistakes and I have apologized for them. I am a good man who loves his island and everyone. Since I started my term to lead Puerto Rico’s destiny, in front of the most devastating economic and fiscal panorama ever.”
Despite his statement, protestors are saying he needs to resign for other reasons as well.
Maristella Gross, one of the protestors in San Juan, tells CNN: “I am fed up with the thieving government. I am fed up with corruption. I am fed up with lack of integrity.”
Rosselló announced Sunday that he is resigning as the president of the New Progressive Party and he will not be running for re-election next year.
Rosselló still will not resign as governor and that is making protestors very angry.
Carmen Yulin Cruz, mayor of San Juan, says that Rosselló’s refusal to resign has “added fuel to the fire.”
She also says, “we are prepared here at City Hall with a makeshift emergency unit with medics and doctors and nurses to take in anybody that receives tear gas or has a cut in their body or potentially been shot.”
The New Progressive Party has moved quickly — announcing Monday that Thomas Rivera Schatz, the president of Puerto Rico’s Senate, will be the new president of the party.
Rivera Schatz took to Facebook saying: “To the Puerto Ricans who were offended, I reiterate that our party rejects this behavior, censures these expressions and is in solidarity with you.”
Singer Ricky Martin, one of the public figures attacked in the leaked text messages, has joined protestors and is pleading with officials to start the impeachment process.
Martin tweeted: “The only thing you (Rosselló) just did is mess with the mental health of Puerto Ricans. If he doesn’t want to leave, impeachment is the only option we have.”
There is an impeachment research committee, which includes three attorneys who will have 10 days to evaluate the leaked messages and determine if it’s terms for impeachment.
The committee was created Friday by Carlos “Johnny” Méndez, the president of Puerto Rico’s House of Representatives.
Once research has ended, the committee will be providing Méndez with a detailed report.
If the governor did indeed commit impeachable acts, votes to impeach would have to pass the House and then the issue will go to Senate. This will result in a trial by the head of the Supreme Court and senators will serve on the jury.
Both chambers will need a two-thirds vote for the impeachment to be carried out.
Protestors will not be backing down until they see the governor impeached or resigned.
According to CNN, Puerto Ricans are tired of the corruption, high poverty rates and slow recovery from 2017’s tragic Hurricane Maria.
Layzne Alvez tells CNN, “we are going to stay here no matter what. We are going to face our local leaders, representatives, senators, whoever we need to get him out. We are going to stay here.”
Kelsey-Marie is an NYC girl who currently lives in Johannesburg, South Africa. You can keep up with her on Instagram at @kelseydashmarie