An estimated half a million Puerto Ricans took to the streets of San Juan Monday to demand the resignation of Governor Ricardo Rosselló. It was the largest demonstration yet since the massive leak of nearly 900 text messages — many of them graphic and offensive — between Rosselló and some of his closest advisers broke 11 days ago. Protesters blocked a major Puerto Rican highway for hours, chanting “Ricky renuncia!” — ”Ricky resign!” — banging on drums and waving Puerto Rican flags. Several businesses and banks closed in solidarity with the national mobilization, with many taking the day off work to attend the protest. At around 11 p.m., police began firing tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters who gathered outside the governor’s mansion. The protest came a day after Governor Rosselló addressed the Puerto Rican people via Facebook Live, announcing he would not seek re-election next year and that he would step down from his leadership role as head of the ruling New Progressive Party. Democracy Now! correspondent Juan Carlos Dávila was in the streets of San Juan.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: We begin today’s show in Puerto Rico. An estimated half a million Puerto Ricans took to the streets of San Juan Monday in an historic protest demanding the resignation of Governor Ricardo Rosselló. This was the largest demonstration yet since the massive leak of nearly 900 obscene text messages between Rosselló and some of his closest advisers broke 11 days ago. Protesters blocked a major Puerto Rican highway for hours, chanting “Ricky renuncia!” — ”Ricky resign!” — banging on drums and waving Puerto Rican flags. Several businesses and banks closed in solidarity with the national mobilization, including the largest retail mall — one of the largest retail malls in Latin America, Plaza Las Américas, with many taking the day off work to attend the protest. At around 11 p.m., police began firing tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters who gathered outside the governor’s mansion in La Fortaleza.
AMY GOODMAN: The protest came a day after Governor Rosselló addressed the Puerto Rican people via Facebook Live, announcing he would not seek re-election next year and that he would step down from his leadership role as head of the ruling New Progressive Party. Democracy Now! correspondent Juan Carlos Dávila was in the streets of San Juan Monday and filed this report.
JUAN CARLOS DÁVILA: On Monday, thousands of Puerto Ricans joined a general strike to continue demanding the resignation of Governor Ricardo Rosselló. Groups of people assembled in the Américas highway, one of Puerto Rico’s most transited routes. Activists, which have been demanding an audit of Puerto Rico’s debt and the repeal of the controversial PROMESA law, also joined the activities. This is Jocelyn Velázquez.
JOCELYN VELÁZQUEZ: [translated] This struggle is not only to remove Ricardo Rosselló. Ricardo Rosselló is the decoration. We need to remove the group of corrupt thieves that demonstrated that beyond being thieves and corrupts, they are inhumane, making fun of people’s suffering to enjoy themselves. This cannot be forgiven.
JUAN CARLOS DÁVILA: During the afternoon, rain poured all over protesters. However, that didn’t stop them from continuing. Many of them took cover under a bridge and continued their activities.
VIVIAN HERNANDEZ: [translated] My name is Vivian Hernandez, and I am here with the other Puerto Ricans so that the governor of Puerto Rico resigns. We don’t want him here anymore. As we put him in power, we can also take him down. We are tired of the abuse, and we are tired of the corruption.
JUAN CARLOS DÁVILA: And this is Luis Dávila.
LUIS DÁVILA: [translated] I am here protesting against the governor, who has betrayed us. I was from his party, but not anymore. I gave him my vote, and he betrayed us. We’re here fighting to get him out of office, because what the governor did cannot be done to the people. If he doesn’t leave, there’s going to be stronger consequences.
JUAN CARLOS DÁVILA: Towards the evening, protesters mobilized to the governor’s mansion in Old San Juan, where protests have been taking place for almost two weeks. During the past days, many rap and reggaeton artists have joined the protests, attracting many of the youth. This is Lenny Tavárez, a reggaeton artist who participated in last night’s protest while wearing a black Puerto Rican peasant hat.
LENNY TAVÁREZ: The black peasant hat represents, obviously, our peasant roots. The color black — we painted them black, representing our indignation. We’re in mourning. I think we’re at a crucial moment in our Puerto Rico, and we feel like that. We feel deceived. It represents all the negatives that are happening. But at the same time, this is helping us to develop a unity never seen before. This is historic. It’s a goal. This union already represents a record for us, and I feel very proud as a Puerto Rican with everything that’s happening. It’s been a success to communicate a message the way we’re doing it. You can feel the struggle, the indignation. But it has also been done with much respect under the circumstances. With all the disrespect that we’ve received, I think we’re treating Rosselló very well. This is to knock down the governor’s mansion and to drag him out by his feet.
JUAN CARLOS DÁVILA: Once again, protests ended with violence, where the state police used excessive force to repress the activists who are demanding Ricardo Rosselló’s resignation.
AMY GOODMAN: That report from the streets of San Juan, of Puerto Rico, by Democracy Now! correspondent Juan Carlos Dávila. When we come back, we’ll speak with Carla Minet, executive director of the Center for Investigative Journalism in Puerto Rico. The protests began after the center publish nearly 900 violent, misogynistic and homophobic text messages between the governor and other Puerto Rican government officials. Stay with us.
AMY GOODMAN: “Contra Todo,” or “Against Everything,” by iLe, Ileana Cabra, who will be joining us later on the broadcast.
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