SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Protest action and calls for Puerto Rico’s governor to resign amid corruption and scandal continued on Thursday with more organized demonstrations planned for Friday. The political turmoil comes at a critical stage as reported previously, to US authorities announced indictments involving six people, including two former high-ranking Puerto Rico government officials, who were charged with conspiracy and other crimes in connection with millions of dollars in federal Medicaid and education funds.
Other charges in Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) indictment included money laundering, theft, wire fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy, that include on page 16: “By paying unauthorized commissions, the cost of government contracts was unnecessarily inflated and increased.”
“Thousands of protesters have jammed streets in San Juan since Saturday, calling on Governor Ricardo Rossello to step down,” Reuters reports. And that “dozens of guns were stolen in a raid on police firearms center.”
Hundreds of protesters and police faced off on the colonial streets outside La Fortaleza, the governor’s mansion, in the neighborhood of Old San Juan.
Police used tear gas, rubber bullets at protesters demanding the resignation of Gov. Ricardo Rosselló.
Protests say they have had enough of declared in no uncertain terms the governor must go, chanting we deserve better – from corrupt politicians, decades of scandals and mismanagement, and most recently, recovery efforts from Hurricane Maria in 2017.
Silvia Álvarez Curbelo, a retired historian from the University of Puerto Rico, said “the protests against the governor are unprecedented. Nobody took to the streets during the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, when both the local and federal governments were widely blamed for a botched response, because they were too busy surviving.” She added. “But the accumulation of grievances has led to a spontaneous explosion of discontent. This has been a process of trauma,” and so now, all of that trauma has come out, all of that pain.”
“A lot of bad things are happening in Puerto Rico,” President Donald Trump said in a pair of Twitter posts. “I know the people of Puerto Rico well, and they are great. But much of their leadership is corrupt, & robbing the US government blind!”
Earlier this year, Discover Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico’s destination marketing organization, announced the rollout of Puerto Rico’s brand campaign: “Have We Met Yet?” focusing on “the hospitable and welcoming nature of the island’s people.”
“Puerto Rico’s people, its rich culture and unparalleled natural offerings, combined with the fact that it’s a US territory and easily accessible, were key factors that led to this creative,” said Leah Chandler, CMO of Discover Puerto Rico.
“The campaign invites travelers to visit Puerto Rico and meet us, the neighbor that you can’t live without,” said Chandler. “Puerto Rico was named the number #1 Place to Visit in 2019 by The New York Times and has topped more than 20 other notable lists of places to visit this year.”
President Trump has previously opposed the issue of Puerto Rican statehood, and with new legislation that may pass in the Democrat-controlled House, the Trump administration and the Republican-controlled Senate are sure to oppose, legislation that would admit Puerto Rico into the union as the 51st state.
Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló announced Sunday that he will not run for reelection next year and is resigning as the president of the New Progressive Party, following protests over the past week.
Sources: Caribbean News Now/CNN