Puerto Rico holds massive march to request the resignation of governor Rosselló
Puerto Rico’s embattled governor is trying to hold on to his job. But, at this point, Ricardo Rosselló is never going to be un-embattled. It’s time for “Ricky” to listen to his angry constituents. Their protest posters say it all: “Ricky Renuncia” — “Ricky Resign.”
The street demonstrations — and clashes with police — that started in quaint Old San Juan last week in front of the governor’s mansion have spread everywhere on the island. The outrage has been exported to cities on the mainland, including Miami, Orlando and New York.
Monday night’s demonstration was to be one of the largest in the country’s history and brought thousands of Puerto Ricans from across the country to San Juan, where police waited in riot gear.
The governor has remained firm that he will not resign because, as he told Fox News in a tense interview on Monday, he was “elected by the people.”
But the people who put him in office are determined to push him out. Last week, we said that Rosselló had earned the governorship when he was elected to office. “Now, he must earn the right to keep it,” we wrote.
This week, it’s clear that’s it’s too late. Rosselló has simply lost the collective ear of Puerto Ricans who are sick and tired of their drained economy, the fight to recover from Hurricane Maria, government corruption and a governor incapable of making anything right.
In a video posted to his Facebook page over the weekend, Rosselló apologized — again — for his part in cruel and puerile chat messages that insulted women, gays and even people who died in the hurricane two years ago. He promised not to run for reelection and stepped down as the head of his political party. He also said he looked forward to defending himself against the process of impeachment, whose initial stages are being explored by Puerto Rico’s legislature.
Rosselló should save legislators the time and trouble. The irreparably damaged governor should resign.
On Fox, he tried to tout his administration’s work: “You know, I’ve had the biggest recovery effort in the modern history of the United States on our hands. We’re battling corruption with certain initiatives that we’ve already started and certain new ones that we want to put out there, so that we can fix the problem.” Now he’s all action. He said he wants a federal fund disbursement czar to be assigned; he said he just introduced a procurement initiative to “battle corruption.”
But the chat thread was simply the final straw for Puerto Ricans. The U.S. territory continues its struggle to recover from Hurricane Maria. While Rosselló’s administration declared 64 people had died, a Harvard study found that there were at least 4,645 storm-related deaths.
The bankrupt country is working to restructure part of $70 billion in debt amid a 13-year recession. And now the economy is taking a further hit as cruise ships sail past San Juan without stopping. He has an enemy-for-life, it seems, in President Trump. Puerto Rico, unfortunately, has seen only a fraction of the $42 billion — not $92 billion as Trump wrongly blared Monday — in Congress-allocated disaster aid.
Puerto Ricans’ unrelenting anger makes clear that Rosselló was an ineffectual leader long before the obnoxious emails were discovered. There’s little he can do to reverse that in the time remaining in his term. His credibility is gone.