Hours after Governor Ricardo Rosselló resisted calls to step down over leaked messages — mocking victims of Hurricane Maria and attacking fellow politicians with misogynistic slurs — an estimated 400,000 Puerto Ricans took to the streets on July 22 and demanded Rosselló's resignation.
"The people have spoken," New York Democratic representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — whose mother was born in Puerto Rico — tweeted in response to video footage of Puerto Ricans flooding miles of the Las Américas highway.
As the New York Times reported, classes on the island were canceled, the largest mall in San Juan was closed, and banks did not open amid the massive demonstrations against Rosselló.
In an address on July 21, Rosselló announced he was stepping down as head of his party and would not run for reelection in 2020, but stopped short of resigning.
"Governor Ricardo Rosselló has made further mockery of the Puerto Rican people by refusing to leave office," the progressive coalition Power 4 Puerto Rico said in a statement on July 22. "As worldwide demonstrations calling for the governor to step down continue, the legislature of Puerto Rico must now commence an impeachment process based on the ample evidence corroborated by many jurists of Rosselló breaking the law."
Laura Rexach Olivencia, a Puerto Rico radio host, called Rosselló's refusal to listen to the public and step down "a slap in the face to all Puerto Ricans".
"For him to think he can keep governing for another year and a half as if nothing has happened is insulting to our core," said Olivencia.
Author and environmentalist Naomi Klein — who has written extensively on how Wall Street vultures have exploited Puerto Rico's debt crisis for profit as residents suffer brutal austerity — called the demonstrations "absolutely extraordinary" and said they are about problems that run much deeper than Rosselló.
"Sending love and solidarity to Puerto Rican revolutionaries who are showing the world how it's done," Klein tweeted. "This is about #RickyRenuncia but also the anti-democratic Junta, the odious debt, and the right to sovereignty on every front!"
[Reprinted from Common Dreams.]