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Puerto Rico governor steps down after massive protests

Puerto Rico governor steps down after massive protests

Ricardo Rossello on Monday said he would not be stepping down as governor of Puerto Rico (Photo: Facebook)

The embattled governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rossello, resigned on Wednesday (24 July) following weeks of protests.

Rossello faced 10,000-people strong protests after journalists published a trove of offensive text messages between Rossello and his aides. They included homophobic and sexist slurs.

Rossello will officially leave office at 5pm on 2 August, he said in a late-night livestream.

What I wish most is peace and progress for my people’ he said.

During his announcement, Rossello touted accomplishments in infrastructure, corruption reforms, and LGBT rights.

Secretary of Justice Wanda Vazquez will become the next governor of Puerto Rico, according to ABC News.

The legislature earlier on Wednesday had said it was ready to impeach Rossello.

Footage shared online showed people dancing in the street to the news. They also set off fireworks.

Rossello earlier resigned as leader of his New Progressive Party. He also promised not to run for reelection in 2020. But, he refused to step down as governor. As recently as Sunday (21 July) he remained adamant about staying in the top job.

People of Puerto Rico demanded resignation

For 12 days, people in the US territory have protested Rosselló and demanded his resignation.

This all began when the Center for Investigative Journalism leaked 889 pages of private chat messages on a platform called Telegram between Rosselló and other men.

Throughout the thousands of messages, the men discuss other politicians, celebrities, as well as various government departments and policies in vulgar terms.

In one message, Rosselló called former New York City Council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito a ‘whore’. He also made references to Ricky Martin’s sexuality using homophobic slurs.

Hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans took to the streets for two weeks protesting the government. Grammy-award winning singer Ricky Martin lead the protests, waving a Pride Flag.

‘We’re tired of the cynicism,’ he said one Instagram post.

‘They put down women. They put down the LGBT community, people with disabilities. Corruption, it is insane. We are tired. We can’t take it anymore.’

The demonstrations and the people’s anger came on the heels of Hurricane Maria. And recent arrests of former officials over fraud involving federal funding.

Méndez also acknowledged the protests while discussing action against Rosselló: ‘I believe that the demonstration of yesterday (Monday) was a clear and forceful one and one must always have his feet on the ground and listen to the people. I will do that analysis too.’

Half a million people participated in the March of the People on Monday (22 July). What’s more, it went into the evening and police ended up dispersing tear gas.