NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – The embattled governor of Puerto Rico announced he will resign, after nearly two weeks of protests in the streets of San Juan. There have been plenty of protests in Connecticut, too.
“My initial reaction was that the people of Puerto Rico have spoken and the governor made the right decision,” said Joseph Rodriguez, President of Puerto Ricans United, Inc.
Just hours before the announcement, PRU organized a protest in New Haven’s Criscuolo Park that drew dozens of people. That same park is where we met up with two leaders of the group Thursday morning.
Rosello was already unpopular for his handling of the territory’s finances and the slow response to the devastation from Hurricane Maria.
“The people got tired of how he disrespected the people that died, the 4,700 plus people that died in Hurricane Maria,” said Jhonnathan Rivera, the communications director for PRU.”
The latest disrespect came in hundreds of pages of chat messages made public almost two weeks ago. In them, Governor Rosello and his top advisers use homophobic and misogynistic language to mock everyone from hurricane victims to the pop singer Ricky Martin. They also hinted at ongoing corruption, a long time problem in Puerto Rico.
“I think he just thought the people of Puerto Rico were just going to step back as, unfortunately, they have in the past,” Rivera said. “This time, again, the people of Puerto Rico have had enough.”
That feeling drove daily protests in the streets. It was a first for many.
“I have family that have never engaged in protest that were in Old San Juan protesting because they recognize that enough is enough,” said Rodriguez.
The Governor’s resignation may not be enough, however. There is a larger fight still looming.
“They’re fighting systemic corruption on the island, and they’re also fighting Washington and a government that refuses to provide equal rights for the island,” said Rodriguez.
Taking over that fight is Justice Secretary Wanda Vazquez. With other key resignations, she is next in the line of succession for Governor of Puerto Rico.
“She is an attorney,” Rivera said. “She has some experience, but it doesn’t end here. It’s also the team and the people around her.”
She will take over at the end of next week. In that overnight Facebook message, Governor Rosello said his resignation will take effect at 5 p.m. next Friday.