Embattled Puerto Rico governor resigns after protests

SAN JUAN (AFP) – Puerto Rico’s embattled governor Ricardo Rossello announced his resignation late Wednesday following two weeks of massive protests triggered by the release of a text exchange in which he and others mocked gay people, women and hurricane victims.

Protesters who had thronged the streets near the governor’s mansion since the afternoon erupted into cheers as the news broke, shooting fireworks and waving Puerto Rican flags.

“I announce that I will be resigning from the governor’s post effective Friday, August 2 at 5 pm,” Rossello said, in a video statement posted on the government’s Facebook page.

The rallies started on July 13, when the Centre for Investigative Journalism released 889 pages of text chats on the encrypted messaging app Telegram in which Rossello and 11 other male administration members criticised officials, politicians and journalists.

“I trust that Puerto Rico will continue united and move forward as it always has,” Rossello said. “And I hope that this decision will serve as a call for reconciliation of citizens.”

Rossello said he made the decision taking into account the complaints against him and after discussion with his family.

Puerto Ricans had gathered at the gates of the governor’s mansion, known as La Fortaleza, in San Juan, ahead of the rumoured announcement.

“Everyone feels betrayed by him,” celebrity musician Rene Perez (“Residente”) told Spanish-language news channel Telemundo at the protest, shortly before the governor’s announcement.

Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello. – AFP