Puerto Rico’s governor to quit after crude messages leak

The governor of Puerto Rico has announced he will resign on 2 August after there were calls for him to quit over a leak of obscene and insulting messages between him and his advisers.

A crowd of demonstrators erupted into cheers and sang outside Ricardo Rossello’s mansion in Old San Juan, shortly after he made his announcement on Facebook at around midnight on Wednesday.

Addressing the protesters, Mr Rosello said: “The demands have been overwhelming and I’ve received them with highest degree of humility.”

Protests took place outside the governor's mansion after his resignation
Image: Protests took place outside the governor’s mansion after his resignation

The messages, that were laced with obscenities, involved the governor as well as 11 other men, and infuriated Puerto Ricans that were already angry with corruption, mismanagement, the economic crisis and the slow recovery from Hurricane Maria nearly two years ago.

Tens of thousands of people protested and called for Mr Rossello’s resignation in the biggest demonstrations seen in the country since those that put an end to US Navy training on the island of Vieques more than 15 years ago.

Democrat Mr Rossello was elected in 2016 and is the first governor to resign in the US territory’s recent history.

More than three million US citizens live in Puerto Rico.

More from Puerto Rico

Under its constitution, Puerto Rico’s secretary of state would usually assume the governorship, but since secretary of state Luis Rivera Marin became one of more than a dozen officials to resign over the leak, leadership of the island falls to justice secretary Wanda Vazquez.

She would become Puerto Rico’s second woman governor.

Protesters blocked one of the capital's roads
Image: Protesters blocked one of the capital’s roads

There were 889 pages of conversations that were leaked on 13 July. In the group chat, participants mocked constituents, including hurricane survivors, and made offensive remarks about women, with Mr Rossello calling one a “whore”.

The group of men also talked about government contracts, and authorities this week issued search warrants for their mobile phones, to determine whether the group divulged confidential government information.

Politicians have also looked at the possibility of impeachment.

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - JULY 17: Demonstrators protest against Ricardo Rossello, the Governor of Puerto Rico on July 17, 2019 in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. There have been calls for the Governor to step down after it was revealed that he and top aides were part of a private chat group that contained misogynistic and homophobic messages. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Image: The protests have been the biggest in 15 years

At the weekend, Mr Rossello posted a video on Facebook in which he announced he would not seek re-election in 2020 or continue as the head of his political party, but his refusal to resign further angered Puerto Ricans and led to huge demonstrations on Monday on one of San Juan’s main motorways.

Puerto Rican music stars also called for Mr Rossello’s resignation, including Ricky Martin, Bad Bunny and Residente, as well as a string of US politicians from both parties.

The upheaval comes as the island tries to restructure part of its $70bn (£56b) of debt and manage a 13-year recession that has led to an exodus of nearly half a million people to the US mainland in the past 10 years.

Source: SKY NEWS

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