The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico in the Caribbean Sea, an unincorporated territory of the US, has not been having a good time of it for over a decade now, thanks to a long-running economic recession. And while the island territory may have gotten some new added tourist arrivals in 2017 after seeing a beautiful music video for Puerto Rican talents Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s hit song “Despacito,” it was negated in September that same year by Hurricane Maria. The slow recovery compounded by the recession has spurred local protests against the Commonwealth government, which escalated after people caught unflattering descriptions of them from text messages by Governor Ricardo Rossello.
And as CNN tells it, the Governor of Puerto Rico has decided that discretion is the better part of valor and announced his resignation. Specifically, Ricardo Rossello will be stepping down from office on August 2 in the afternoon, according to a Facebook video he posted just this Wednesday, July 24. “The demands have been overwhelming and I’ve received them with highest degree of humility,” says Rossello, referring to the protests throughout the territory, especially in Old San Juan, that have been going on for over a week by now.
Puerto Ricans were already upset at the glacial recovery of their homes from the devastation of Hurricane Maria, allegedly due to corruption of funds for rebuilding and such. When some of Gov. Rossello’s allies were charged of corrupt practices, the Puerto Rico Center for Investigative Journalism began picking up chat conversations between the Governor and his associates, filled with homophobia and misogyny-laced insults against political opponents and celebrities, plus black humor on the hurricane’s victims. Citizens went out to the streets in force to calls of “Ricky Renuncia!” (Ricky Resign!). When Rossello did announce his resignation, the cry jubilantly changed to “Ricky Renuncio” (Ricky Resigned).
While Ricardo Rossello’s stepping down might just spare him from impeachment procedures being prepared by legislators. And while Justice Secretary Wanda Vasquez is expected to take his place as Governor, she also faces an increasingly disillusioned citizenry that has lost faith in her and Rosello’s New Progressive Party (advocating US statehood) and the Popular Democrats (maintaining the Commonwealth status). Meanwhile, other officials whom Rossello has communicated his “despicable” texts have started resigning amid the fallout, with the outgoing Governor’s chief of staff Ricardo Llerandi citing threats leveled against his family.
Rossello is the son of Pedro Rossello, the seventh Governor of Puerto Rico, who is also cited as having put the Commonwealth into debt by heavy infrastructure investment that led to a bankruptcy filing, much as his son has done in recent times due to the recession and Hurricane Maria.
Image courtesy of NBC News