Protesters this week in Puerto Rico and New York were accompanied by celebrities in their demands for Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo A. Rosselló to resign. Protests broke out five days ago when almost 900 pages of rude private messages between Rosselló and his top officials, including anti-homosexual comments, were leaked.
— Bloomberg TicToc (@tictoc) July 18, 2019
The mainland protests were vastly different than what took place in Puerto Rico. Agitated protests there broke out after Saturday’s leaks, with numerous clashes between protesters and police officers within the week.
Another Puerto Rican star iLe said to the crowds in Old San Juan on the fifth day of protests, “It was about damn time to wake up.”
Ricky Martin, a Puerto Rican singer, was mentioned in Rosselló’s messages. Targeting Martin’s sexuality, Rosselló wrote, “Ricky Martin is such a male chauvinist that he f—- men because women don’t measure up. Pure patriarchy.” Martin also joined the protests in Old San Juan.
NBC News producer Annie Rose Ramos was on the ground in last night’s protests, updating Twitter with live videos throughout the night. One of her first videos showed the crowd gathered outside Rosselló’s house, locally known as La Fortaleza, in Old San Juan.
— Annie Rose Ramos (@Annie_Rose23) July 17, 2019
The protests erupted in response to the governor’s recent scandal referred to as “Chatgate” or “Rickyleaks.” Puerto Rico’s Center for Investigative Journalism published 889 pages of a private group chat on Saturday between Rosselló and his aides. The messages were filled with offensive and crass language against political adversaries and allies.
In one of the messages Rosselló wrote the federal oversight board controlling the Puerto Rico’s finances since 2016 should “go f— yourself,” with a line of middle finger emojis following. Rosselló’s Secretary of State Luis G. Rivera Marín was among the numerous members of the group chat to resign or be let go.
Rosselló, however, dismissed the chat as “just a way to relieve stress,” wrote the Washington Post. Apparently for Rosselló, relieving stress includes calling former New York City Council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito a “whore.”
This recent scandal is the icing on a cake of mismanagement and disaster for many Puerto Ricans. According to a New York Times article, Rosselló may not deserve to be the focal point of the protests.
Thousands died when Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in 2017. The island was just recovering from Hurricane Irma that hit two weeks before, and Puerto Rico miserably struggled to recover. Rosselló, at the forefront of the rehabilitating efforts, was deemed responsible for the epic reconstruction failures. The hurricane hit not even nine months after his inauguration and has defined Rosselló’s administration.
“This has been a process of trauma,” said retired historian from the University of Puerto Rico Silvia Alvarez Curbelo in an interview with The New York Times. “And so now, all of that trauma has come out, all of that pain.”
Combined with other economic failures that led to recessions, Rosselló’s popularity has spiraled downward. Now with the scandal, Puerto Ricans seem to be saying they’ve had enough with the corruption and political chaos.