(TMU) — After weeks of protest that saw hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans filling San Juan’s streets, Governor Ricardo Rosselló announced his intention to resign on Friday, August 2nd at 5:00 pm during a pre-recorded statement released through Facebook Wednesday night as protests turned into celebrations.
El gobernador, Ricardo Rossello, ofrece un Mensaje al Pueblo.
Posted by La Fortaleza de PR on Wednesday, July 24, 2019
“I announce that I will be resigning from the governor’s post effective Friday, August 2 at 5 pm,” Rosselló said in a statement hours after leaving members of the media waiting for a press conference that never materialized.
BREAKING: We are standing by at the governors mansion in Puerto Rico for an announcer. We haven’t been told what the announcement is or who is going to give it. Will he resign? https://t.co/P3xfjgn8vU
— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) July 24, 2019
During the almost 14 minute statement delivered by Rosselló Wednesday night, the governor touted his many accomplishments as well as those of his wife, Beatriz Areizaga, while Puerto Ricans and allies across the world flooded livestreams with comments bemoaning the content of his statement. Comments in support of Rosselló were seemingly nowhere to be found.
According to Johnny Méndez, leader of the Puerto Rico House, lawmakers were set to begin impeachment proceedings on Thursday had the governor not announced his plans to resign. Méndez claims there existed sufficient votes to oust Rosselló.
On Monday, 400,000 people demonstrated in the streets of San Juan after Rosselló continued to resist calls for his resignation. The massive protests began after a nearly 900-page leak referred to as “RickyLeaks” revealed vulgar, homophobic and misogynistic messages pertaining to fellow politicians, celebrities, members of the media and others. While the leak was significant, it merely served as the tipping point on the island currently crippled with debt and still rebounding from 2017’s Hurricane Maria.
Puerto Rico has been U.S. colony since 1898 and while residents were granted U.S. citizenship back in 1917, the island’s 3.4 million residents do not have representation in Congress and are not entitled to electoral votes in presidential elections. Keeping in line with its second-class status, the island struggled with the extremely slow pace of recovery after Hurricane Maria thanks to little help from the federal government. Hurricane Maria brought additional debt to the country and unsavory “recovery” contracts involving Rosselló’s corruption-riddled administration.
In fact, $15 million was funneled toward consultants connected to top officials in the governor’s palace.
Puerto Ricans have long been promised that achieving statehood would someday be on the horizon. Residents have been continually let down by leaders making empty promises of statehood while creating closer ties with corporate America rather than putting the needs of Puerto Ricans first.
As calls for Rosselló’s resignation increased, rumors of his would-be successor began swirling.
According to Puerto Rico’s constitution, the secretary of state should assume the governorship. However, on July 13 Rivera Marín resigned from that position after allegations of his involvement in RickyLeaks. Wanda Vázquez, a former district attorney and current secretary of justice is now next in line.
Vázquez, who like Rosselló is a member of the New Progressive Party—which is neither new nor progressive—has been involved in her own scandals over the years. Talk of potential takeover has inspired the Twitter hashtag #WandaRenuncia, foreshadowing what may end up being a long-term protest movement to rid the island of those who have preyed on its resources and status as a U.S. territory for far too long.
Rosselló has not officially announced who would be his successor and seemed to leave open the possibility that someone other than Vázquez could be in place by August 2.
Earlier on Wednesday, as the press was being stood up by Rosselló, the Mind Unleashed had an opportunity to speak with two people on the ground in Puerto Rico who had been present at the recent protests. Salvador, a 72-year-old human rights attorney, explained the deep history of Puerto Rico as well as the factors that led up to the recent protests.
“You don’t appreciate your bones until they are broken. Puerto Rico’s liberty is broken. And the people feel it in their bones.” – Salvador Tio
— Johnny Méndez (@JohnnyMndez36) July 25, 2019
It remains to be seen whether or not protests will continue as a new governor assumes office and if momentum will grow into a movement seeking complete independent from the United States, but one thing is abundantly clear: ¡el pueblo unido, jamás será vencido!
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