Thousands of Puerto Ricans took to the streets of Old San Juan to demand the ouster of Governor Ricardo Rosselló following corruption investigations and the leaking of 889 pages of text messages revealing him to be vindictive, sexist and profane – including against those who died following Hurricane Maria.
Demonstrations started with hundreds of people, then grew to the thousands. The growth was reflected on Twitter as the hashtag #RickyRenuncia (Resign Ricky), a shortened version of his name, Ricardo, and it was trending worldwide Monday.
Until Wednesday night, the rallies had been largely peaceful. On Monday night, about two dozen police officers were injured during a protest, and at least five protesters were arrested, authorities said. –NBC News
On Wednesday night protesters broke past a barricade at the governor’s mansion, resulting in the deployment of tear gas. “By early hours Thursday, the old city of San Juan resembled a war zone, with police chasing protesters through the streets while firing rubber bullets, gas canisters and what appeared to be flash bombs,” according to NPR.
Pictures from San Juan, Puerto Rico where marchers are moving to the Governors mansion pic.twitter.com/wiCtOACWI2
— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) July 17, 2019
I’ve looked at this video from San Juan 20 times.
I now see something thrown from the protester side into the police side.
There’s a flash.
Then, you see an officer holding something that ignites in his hand.
Then police move in on protesters. pic.twitter.com/xEnN8dPRix
— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) July 18, 2019
Some of the island’s biggest stars such as Ricky Martin and reggaeton artist Benito Martinez Ocasio (aka Bad Bunny) turned out to rally a crowd for this week’s second mass demonstration against the embattled government.
“Puerto Rico has suffered so much and we can’t deal with the cynicism of these leaders anymore,” said Martin in a video message posted online. “Fortunately the chat came out, because it unmasked everyone’s real face,” he added. “They made fun of our bodies, they mocked women, the LGBTT community, people with physical and mental disabilities, they made fun of obesity… Enough.”
Musician Residente released a song on Wednesday calling for protesters to take to the streets, rapping: “This is coming out early so you can eat it for breakfast … Sharpening the knives. Fury is the only political party that unites us.“
The protests have extended to cities in the US, including Miami, Orlando, Philadelphia and Nashville. 24-year-old Lillian Gonzalez took to Union Square in New York City to call for Rosselló’s resignation since she couldn’t be in Puerto Rico with family and friends.
The creator of “Hamilton,” Lin-Manuel Miranda, joined the protesters in New York, telling the crowd “Rosselló has lost the people’s trust in him and we are here to support that.”