Puerto Ricans return to streets as Democratic hopefuls call for Rosselló’s resignation

People protest during a "Cacerolazo" against Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Rosello in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Saturday. Photo by Thais Llorca/EPA-EFE

July 21 (UPI) — Several Democratic presidential candidates called for Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Rosselló’s resignation as residents of the territory returned to the streets Saturday to protest disparaging text messages.

Puerto Ricans have protested for several days after private chat messages between the governor and his close associates were leaked last weekend.

The leaked chats showed sexual comments critics say were misogynistic and homophobic. Rosselló was already under fire following the arrests of two former government officials on corruption charges.

The chats on the Telegram messaging service targeted political opponents, spoke of assassinating San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz and made fun of needy Puerto Ricans. They were revealed July 13 by the non-profit Center for Investigative Journalism, which posted 889 pages on its website.

Protesters demonstrated outside Rosselló’s residence Saturday, while others gathered near the Capitol building to read the leaked messages aloud.

“It’s important to read this, do it collectively,” protester Carla Claudio told CNN. “It’s been the catalyst for the protest and everything that’s happened.”

Meanwhile, Democratic presidential candidates voiced their opposition to Rosselló. Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, Sens. Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris, Marianne Williamson, and Reps. Tim Ryan and Tulsi Gabbard called for his resignation.

“The only path to justice for the people of Puerto Rico is to speak truth against divisive and corrupt leaders,” Harris tweeted. “I stand with them as they protest and demand accountability.”

Booker said it’s clear Puerto Ricans’ “confidence in his ability to govern has eroded and they’re right to demand the new leadership they deserve.”


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