Puerto Ricans Want Ricardo Rosselló Out, But Island Lawmakers Haven’t Committed To Impeachment

The island’s governor, who’s embroiled in controversy after his offensive comments in a group chat, says he won’t step down, but would respect an impeachment process.

By Jill AmentJuly 23, 2019 10:58 am

Thousands of protesters continue to call for the resignation of Puerto Rico’s Gov. Ricardo Rosselló. Leaks of Rosselló’s chat messages with friends and advisers showed him denigrating women, the poor, members of the LGBTQ community and more.

Now, Dánica Coto, who reports for the Associated Press in the Caribbean, says a judge in Puerto Rico issued search warrants for the phones of some government officials after a massive protest on Monday.

“This chat has been labeled as offensive, obscenity-laden, it mocks constituents, including those who died after Hurricane Maria,” Coto says.

Puerto Rico Justice Department officials wouldn’t tell her whom exactly the warrants were for, but they did say, more generally, that they were for those involved in the group chat and hadn’t already turned their cellphones over to authorities.

Coto says the protests that came ahead of the judge’s decision were the largest in about 20 years.

“Anywhere from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans took over one of the island’s main highways, and they marched for several miles demanding the ouster of Gov. Ricardo Rosselló,” Coto says.

She says people of all ages, abilities and professions turned out, and even some Puerto Ricans who now live on the U.S. mainland came back to participate.

Even so, Rosselló hasn’t resigned; he has said he apologized and is now focused on the “job at hand,” Coto says, which includes fighting corruption and the continuing recovery from Hurricane Maria.

But Rosselló can be impeached by Puerto Rico’s Legislative Assembly.

“[Lawmakers] are looking into it, but the people, Puerto Ricans, are afraid that legislators will not follow through,” Coto says. “It’s become sort of a worrisome situation for many here.”

She says Puerto Ricans say they will continue protesting until the governor steps down, but that puts them at odds with the island’s government because lawmakers won’t say yet whether they’ll go through with impeachment.

“It kind of leaves the island at one of its biggest crossroads in history,” Coto says.

It’s clear, Coto says, that Puerto Ricans aren’t just angry about Rosselló’s chat comments. They’re also unhappy with how his government has handled the aftermath of Hurricane Maria – when an estimated 3,000 people died – as well as corruption.

“People said that this was basically the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Coto says.


Written by Caroline Covington.