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Calls Intensify for Governor of Puerto Rico to Quit

Online chats shatter the leader's image
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 20, 2019 8:32 AM CDT
A girl wearing a dress featuring the Puerto Rican flag stands in front of police blocking the road leading to the La Fortaleza governor's mansion in San Juan, Puerto Rico on Thursday.   (AP Photo/Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo)
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(Newser) – In the Spanish colonial fortress that serves as his official residence, Puerto Rico's governor, Ricardo Rosselló is under siege. Motorcyclists, celebrities, horse enthusiasts and hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans have swarmed outside La Fortaleza (The Fort) in Old San Juan this week, demanding Rosselló resign over a series of leaked online chats insulting women, political opponents and even victims of Hurricane Maria. Rosselló, the telegenic 40-year-old son of a former governor, has dropped his normally intense rhythm of public appearances and gone into near-media silence, intensifying questions about his future. New protests began Friday, with union workers organizing a march to La Fortaleza. Horseback riders joined them, while hundreds of other people came from around the city and surrounding areas. A string of smaller events was on the agenda across the island over the weekend, followed by what many expected to be a large protest on Monday.

The calls for Rosselló's resignation were joined Friday by Puerto Rico's non-voting member of Congress, Jenniffer Gonzalez; U.S. Senator Rick Scott of Florida; and New York Congresswomen Nydia Velázquez and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez. Rosselló held a press conference on July 11 to address the arrest of two former department heads on federal corruption charges. He also asked forgiveness for a profanity-laced and at times misogynistic online chat with male members of his administration, parts of which had leaked to media. The gross misogyny of the chat has punctured the governor's image. "He was mocking everyone behind their backs, the people who believed in him," said Jessica Castro, a 38-year-old San Juan resident at a Friday evening protest. "People are really disillusioned. He's got to go."

(Read more Puerto Rico stories.)

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