Ricardo Rossello says he will not run for reelection as governor of Puerto Rico — but he also won't resign. The US territory is seething after chats leaked that show the governor and associates insulting Puerto Ricans.
Ricardo Rossello said he wouldn't seek reelection as governor of Puerto Rico in 2020, but refused to resign as protesters have called for after chat messages leaked in which he used offensive language about women, LGBT+ communities and hurricane victims. On July 13, 889 pages of chats on the app Telegram were published by Puerto Rico's Center for Investigative Journalism, exposing the governor and 11 allies and administration members, all men, insulting women and mocking constituents with misogynstic and homophobic terms.
"I recognize that apologizing isn't enough, that only my work will help restore confidence," said the 40-year-old Rosselle, of the New Progressive Party (PNP), which seeks statehood, and the US Democrats. "Facing that scenario," he added, "I announce to you that I will not seek reelection next year."
Protesters said they did not accept Rossello's concession and pledged to continue demonstrations that have filled the streets of Old San Juan for over a week. Thousands have marched to Rossello's official residence.
'The only option'
Chief Financial Officer Christian Sobrino uses homophobic slurs about pop singer Ricky Martin, who planned to join protesters Monday in San Juan, the capital of the US territory.
"The only thing that you have just done with this message that you have just given is to play with mental health of Puerto Ricans," Martin, known for boy group Menudo and his No. 1 US hit, "Livin' la Vida Loca," wrote on social media Sunday. "I demand those who hold legislative power on the island to please begin the process of investigation."
The upheaval prompted at least four cruise ships to cancel visits to Puerto Rico, and many officials worry about the impact his resignation could have on the already fragile economy on the island, home to 3 million US citizens who have no vote in Congress or presidential elections.
The speaker of Puerto Rico's house of representatives appointed an independent panel Friday to investigate whether the chats warrant impeachment and gave it 10 days to report. Rossello's term is scheduled to end in January 2021.
Rossello won in 2016 with nearly 50%. He had already announced his intention to seek a second term. His father, former Governor Pedro Rossello, flew to Puerto Rico to offer support after the chats leaked.
mkg/ (EFE, Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)