SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP/WWLP) — More than 100 protesters gathered around the Puerto Rico governor’s mansion on Wednesday in a renewed push to oust Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, while his spokesman stressed that he has not resigned but said little else about whether he planned to stay in office or leave.
In response to local media reports that Rosselló was on the verge of leaving Puerto Rico, Public Affairs Secretary Anthony Maceira said the governor “has not resigned and remains in Puerto Rico. As he said yesterday, he’s in a process of reflecting, and listening to the people.”
Maceira said that some media had published “incorrect rumors” and that “whatever decision is taken will be officially communicated, as always.”
Hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans have been outraged by leaked, obscenity-laced online chats between Rosselló and his advisers, and have protested for nearly two weeks demanding his resignation.
“I hope things will change soon,” said 27-year-old Tanyanette Ortiz from the eastern town of Juncos. “The people have already realized that great things happen if we truly unite.”
22News spoke with a Springfield resident who thinks Rossello’s resignation would be the best thing for the island.
“I have a lot of family in Puerto Rico, I don’t know the details of the things he said but I know everybody from my family is on the same page of him residing,” said Ruben Roberto of Springfield.
The chat participants talked about politics and government contracts and also insulted women and mocked constituents, including victims of Hurricane Maria. Rosselló called a female politician a “whore,” referred to another as a “daughter of a bitch,” and made fun of an obese man with whom he posed in a photo.
On Tuesday, officials announced that a Puerto Rico judge had issued search warrants for the cellphones of government officials involved in the chat as part of an ongoing investigation. One of the search warrants said officials used the chat to transmit official and confidential information to private citizens in potential violation of ethics laws.
More than a dozen government officials have resigned since the chat was leaked earlier this month, including Rosselló confidant and chief of staff Ricardo Llerandi, former Secretary of State Luis Rivera Marín and former chief financial officer Christian Sobrino, who also held five other positions.
A report issued Wednesday by a special committee tasked with investigating whether legislators could proceed with an impeachment process against Rosselló recommended that Puerto Rico’s House of Representatives do so. It is unclear if there are enough votes to do so.
Ortiz’s sister, 17-year-old Kerianette, said she was proud of the situation that Puerto Rico was going through.
“Political parties don’t matter, there are no colors,” she said. “This was a people coming together, and that’s how it should be to have the future we all deserve.”
Associated Press writer Mariela Santos contributed to this report.