International

Thousands protests demanding Puerto Rico Governor's resignation

San Juan, July 18 (IANS): | Publish Date: 7/17/2019 11:31:30 PM IST

Thousands of people, including artistes such as Ricky Martin, Bad Bunny, Residente, Tommy Torres and Oscar-winner Benicio del Toro, demanded the resignation of the Governor of Puerto Rico after a private chat containing homophobic comments was leaked, triggering a severe political crisis on the island.

The protest began at the Capitolio in San Juan, where people of all ages and professions carried Puerto Rican flags and banners calling for Governor Ricardo Rossello's resignation.

"Ricky, go to hell" and "Ricky, leave and take the Junta (Puerto Rico's Financial Oversight and Management Board) with you" were some of the slogans used against Rossello, reported Efe news.

Since the content of the chat - in which Rossello and several members of his inner circle in the government mocked and insulted journalists, political leaders of all colors, social collectives and well-known personalities - was revealed, there have been daily protests calling for the Governor's resignation.

Rossello responded on Tuesday at a press conference, saying that his participation and statements in the private chat were improper but not illegal and reiterated that he would remain in his post.

"My responsibility (is) that we have continuity and (that) services work and that all the services that can be granted are given," he said.

Puerto Rican artist Residente called on the police to respect and join the protesters.

Speaking to the broadcasting network CBS, he said: "Right now, we have a dictatorship."

Actor Benicio Del Toro said the situation on the island "affects me, it is very sad for me, we must protest peacefully and explain to the governor how the people feel."

Martin told attendees that the march was for the "future of Puerto Rico. Every time we unite, things happen. With the island united, anything can be done."

Among the familiar faces was also basketball player Juan Jose Barea of the Dallas Mavericks.

A large group of people gathered in the vicinity of La Fortaleza, the Governor's residence, where a tense calm persisted with moments of conflict and a heavy police presence in the area.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, other protests took place in several cities across the US, of which the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory, while supporting protests have also been reported in Europe.

At a press conference, the Undersecretary of the Interior Department, Erik Rolon, said that between 10,000 and 12,000 protesters had gathered in Old San Juan and that Rossello would not change his views during his remaining tenure in office.

Authorities reported on Wednesday that a second cruise ship had cancelled its arrival and will not dock in the port of San Juan for security reasons.At a press conference, the director of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company, Carla Campos, explained that the cruise ship carried nearly 6,000 passengers on board and the fact that they will not disembark could result in losses for the local economy of around $500,000.

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