The Slatest

Puerto Rico Governor Won’t Seek Reelection, Steps Down as Party Chair but Refuses to Resign

Protesters demonstrate against Ricardo Rosselló, the governor of Puerto Rico, near police that are manning a barricade set up along a street leading to the governor's mansion on July 20, 2019 in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Protesters demonstrate against Ricardo Rosselló, the governor of Puerto Rico, near police that are manning a barricade set up along a street leading to the governor’s mansion on July 20, 2019 in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Puerto Rico’s embattled governor, Ricardo Rosselló, adamantly refused to step down from office amid a scandal over leaked vulgar chat messages. After 10 days of mass protests, Rosselló said that he will be resigning as president of the ruling New Progressive party and won’t seek reelection in 2020. But that doesn’t appear to be enough for protesters who have been demanding Rosselló resign and they vowed to continue taking to the streets. A general strike and large demonstrations are planned for Monday.

“I know that apologizing is not enough. It is only my work that will help restore the confidence of those sectors on the way to true reconciliation,” Rosselló said in a Facebook Live video. Rosselló has been fighting for his political future ever since the online chats published on July 13 showed how he and his allies mocked constituents using misogynistic, homophobic, and overall vulgar language. The hundreds of pages of chats from the encrypted messaging app Telegram showed how Rosselló and his allies mocked victims of Hurricane María, the disabled, celebrities like Ricky Martin, and just regular constituents. In one instance, for example, Rosselló mocked an obese man who took a photo with him.

The scandal involving the online chats came at a time when Rosselló’s administration was already engulfed with corruption scandals that erupted since María devastated the island. Shortly before this latest scandal broke, the FBI had arrested several administration officials and contractors for allegedly misappropriating federal relief funds.

Key Democratic presidential contenders, including Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen.
Elizabeth Warren, and Mayor Pete Buttigieg, have called on Rosselló to resign.