A nonstop day of protests shook the foundations of Puerto Rican politics and ended the term of Governor Ricardo Rosselló after less than three years in power.
Thousands of Puerto Ricans demonstrated on the island and throughout the United States, expressing their discontent with Rosselló in different ways (the Puerto Rican community of North Carolina was also present). This came after the leak of a series of private chats containing jokes about the deaths from devastating hurricane Maria, as well as sexist and homophobic comments.
The shameful messages that came to light were sent by the Puerto Rican governor and members of his inner circle. This, coupled with a series of FBI arrests of former Rosselló officials as part of a corruption investigation, unleashed popular discontent.
The protests began on . Then, celebrities such as Ricky Martin, René Pérez (Residente), and Bad Bunny, revitalized the demonstrations on when they traveled to the island to lead a march in San Juan.
During the extended days of protest, the governor, who is a Democrat, apologized for the messages but said he would not resign. On , Rosselló finally realized what was obvious to everyone: he had almost completely lost popular support.
Despite the mandate I have from the people who democratically elected me, today I recognize that continuing in this position would hinder the continued success of what has been achieved, Rosselló wrote in a communication sent to Puerto Rico’s House of Representatives, Senate, and Supreme Court.
I hope that this decision will serve as a call for citizen reconciliation, added the outgoing governor.
During the 13 days of protests, the people of Puerto Rico offered a true display of democracy. No matter the heat, the rain, or the distance, the Puerto Ricans refused to be ignored by a government that did not listen and was suspected of corruption.
These historical marches were not only a rejection of insensitive messages from the governor. Ultimately, they were also a rejection of decades of indifference, incompetence, and corruption on the part of the political class.
Puerto Rico is trying to recover from a deep economic crisis as a result of bad policies and questionable motives, a situation that was aggravated by the onslaught of nature.
The Puerto Rican people have known how to bounce back after disasters, and this time they have been able to stand firm, leaving their differences behind and uniting in one voice. This historical conquest sets a solid precedent that should not be underestimated by future governments. This palpable demonstration of the power of unity is a necessary reminder to the entire continent that it is not the politicians who should have the reins of our countries, but the people.