“Ricky, renuncia, el pueblo te repudia!”
These words were heard across Puerto Rico Monday (July 22). They translate to “Ricky resign, the people reject you” and they were directed at Governor Ricardo Rosselló.
In one of the largest demonstrations ever in a United States territory, about 500,000 people took to the streets—and shut down a highway—demanding the governor’s resignation. The movement was sparked when Puerto Rico’s Center for Investigative Journalism published nearly 900 pages of private texts between Rosselló and 11 male friends and advisors last week.
Messages included Rosselló saying someone should “beat up that whore,” in reference to former New York City Council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito; “Ricky Martin is such a male chauvinist that he f—- men because women don’t measure up. Pure patriarchy”; and, regarding the dead bodies filling the morgue after 2017’s Hurricane Maria, “…don’t we have some cadavers to feed our crows?”
But as The New York Times reports, the protests are also an “eruption of fury over the years of recession, mismanagement, natural disaster and corruption that have fueled a recent exodus.”
Per NPR, Rosselló said on Sunday (July 21) he will not resign, but that he will not run for re-election in 2020. But as the demonstrations show, the people—including government officials—are ready for him to leave now. Using the hashtag #RickyRenuncia (#RickyResign), many took to Twitter to document the ongoing efforts to oust him:
Wow. Puerto Rico.
You don’t get this perspective from the ground.
They are Loud.
— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) July 22, 2019
660,510 voted you into office
— David Colon (@Dtank710) July 22, 2019
— Jessiemar Campos (@jessiemar86) July 22, 2019
I stand in solidarity with the 500,000-plus Puerto Ricans who have taken to the streets to demand Governor @RicardoRossello’s resignation, I agree with the Puerto Rican people: #RickyRenuncia! My full statement: pic.twitter.com/14lyDVrpNn
— Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa🌹🇵🇷 (@CDRosa) July 22, 2019
This is Ricky Martin with the protesters in Puerto Rico right now.#RickyRenunciaAhora
— Joshua Potash (@JoshuaPotash) July 22, 2019
— Ricky Martin (@ricky_martin) July 23, 2019
— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) July 22, 2019
— ASN (@all_sportnewspr) July 22, 2019
As the day went on, rain threatened the crowds, but they didn’t budge:
— Víctor Boekhoudt (@VictorMarenco) July 23, 2019
This photo makes me want to cry; for the first time in decades, my people has finally had enough of the corruption that they’ve faced, and are making their voices heard. I wish I could be there. My heart is with you Puerto Rico, 🇵🇷 #RickyRenuncia #PuertoRicoMarcha pic.twitter.com/hF5tAUsCVZ
— J U S T I N E (@DamnItJustine) July 23, 2019
Protests were also held in New York City and on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.:
#RickyRenuncia has taken over Grand Central Station, NYC.
— Joshua Potash (@JoshuaPotash) July 23, 2019
— Jorge J Torres (@JJTorres11) July 23, 2019
The demonstrations in San Juan continued until close to midnight, when police began firing tear gas and rubber bullets at protestors who were in front of the governor’s mansion:
RIGHT NOW: Police in Puerto Rico are throwing pepper spray at the crowd in front of the Governor’s residence in order to disperse them.
— Carmen Yulín Cruz (@CarmenYulinCruz) July 23, 2019
Lanzan gases, SIN LOS MANIFESTANTES ALTERAR O AGREDIR LA POLICÍA. Ya es costumbre hacerlo a esta hora. Los manifestantes están en àrea pública. @miguelrios @jayfonsecapr @leoaldridgepr @ferdinandpr #RickyVeteYa #RickyRenunciaYa #RickyDictador # pic.twitter.com/gucrWFQoK1
— Darth Rocker Migatte no Gokui (@industryrocker) July 23, 2019
On Tuesday (July 23), CBS News reports that a judge issued search warrants for the cellphones of Rosselló and the other 11 men involved in the scandal as part of an ongoing investigation:
BREAKING: Puerto Rico’s Governor, and 11 others, have been served with a search warrant ordering their cell phones be surrendered as part of an investigation — being done by the islands dept of justice — into the Telegram chat scandal, AKA: #RickyChats pic.twitter.com/kb8bhetnDO
— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) July 23, 2019