Embattled Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló is refusing to step down, despite a series of corruption allegations and text messages scandals, prompting mass country wide protests.
On Saturday, July 13, the Center for Investigative Journalism in Puerto Rico released nearly one thousand pages containing sexist, homophobic and misogynistic slurs from the encrypted app Telegram between him and 11 other male members of his inner circle.
Rosselló has served as the 12th governor of Puerto Rico for two years and is the son of former Governor of Puerto Rico Pedro Rosselló.
In the private leaked messages, Rosselló described a New York politician as the Spanish word for “wh—,” and cracked jokes at Puerto Rican pop star Ricky Martin’s sexual orientation. The text thread also contained the middle finger emoji directed at the federal board that controls the island’s finances.
Some messages even included jokes about Hurricane Maria deaths, the deadly Category 5 hurricane that devastated Dominica, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico in September 2017. It is regarded as the worst natural disaster on record to affect those islands.
They also reveal ideas of how to manipulate public opinion and efforts to discredit the work of federal police monitors and journalists.
On Monday evening, thousands of protesters gathered in Old San Juan with signs, chanting, “Ricky, renuncia,” or Ricky, resign. The hashtag, #RickyRenuncia, was even a trending topic on Twitter.
Demonstrators included Ricky Martin and reggaeton artists Bad Bunny and Residente, who even released a song online encouraging others to make their voices heard.
FOX News reports authorities used tear gas during mass protests to disperse those who lit fireworks in front of the governor’s residence, as 21 officers were injured during crowd confrontations.
In addition to protests, many of the Rosselló’s political allies have withdrawn their support.
Last week, two former officials in his administration were arrested for fraud for allegedly giving $15 million in contracts to personal friends and political allies.
Although two of Rosselló’s top officials stepped down since the messages were made public, Rosselló said it is in the island’s best interest for him to stay in office.
“I’ve asked everyone for forgiveness,” Rosselló said during an Nacion Z radio station interview.
According to CBS, he even has made plans to run for re-election for a second term in November 2020.