#RickyRenuncia rally at Union Square draws hundreds

BY ALEJANDRA O’CONNELL-DOMENECH | Hundreds of protesters at Union Square on Mon., July 15, demanded the resignation Ricardo Roselló, Puerto Rico’s governor, in response to corruption, along with homophobic and misogynistic comments he recently made.

The rally was organized by Frente Independista Boricua. 

“Folks have had enough,” said Jesus Gonzalez, national organizer at The Center for Popular Democracy, who attended the rally. “I don’t know how he can stay in office.”

The Union Square protest occurred simultaneously with one in San Juan, Puerto Rico, which turned violent by late Monday night. Police officers fired tear gas and rubber bullets to quell protesters who had gathered at the gates of the governor’s mansion on La Calle de La Fortaleza. Solidarity protests are occurring across the globe. 

On July 10, the F.B.I. arrested six members of Roselló’s administration, including Julia Keleher, Puerto Rico’s former secretary of Education, and Ángela Ávila-Marrero, head of Puerto Rico’s Health Administration, for alleged fraud and money laundering.

Three days later, Puerto Rico’s Center for Investigative Journalism published 889 pages of private texts from the messenger app Telegram between the governor and Luis Rivera Marín, Roselló’s secretary of state; Christian Sobrino, the island’s chief financial officer; Edwin Miranda, a communications consultant; Anthony Maceira, the governor’s public affairs secretary; Ricardo Llerandi, Puerto Rico’s secretary of the interior; Carlos Carlos Bermúdez, a former communications aide; and Elías Sánchez, a former representative on the board overseeing Puerto Rico’s bankruptcy, according to NBC News.

A protester at Union Square held the black-and-white Puerto Rican flag, which became a symbol of mourning after Hurricane Maria, and is now a symbol of resistance. (Photo by Alejandra O’Connell-Domenech)

The leaked text messages include homophobic remarks about Puerto Rican singer Ricky Martin, jokes about corpses after Hurricane Maria, and a number of derogatory comments toward women, journalists and political groups. At one point in the messages, Roselló calls Melissa Mark-Viverito, the former New York City Council speaker, a “whore.”

Puerto Rico’s governor, Ricardo Roselló, is under fire to resign, but so far says he’s not stepping down from office.

The messages date from the end of 2018 to Jan. 20, 2019.

According to The New York Times, despite growing protests, the governor has stated he will not resign. More protests were expected to take place on the island on Wednesday and Thursday. There was a second #rickyrenuncia protest at Union Square on the evening of Wed., July 17.

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