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Summer of 2019: That One-Time Puerto Ricans Brought Down Their Governor

In what people call the Summer of 2019 (Verano del ’19), Puerto Ricans created a revolution. After a scandalous Telegram chat exposed their Governor Ricardo Rosselló, they took to the streets in a 15-day period that ended Rosselló’s government. For the first time in history, Puerto Rico’s governor resigns.

These leaked messages between Ricky Rosselló and his politicians contained proof of corruption, mockery of the island and its deaths upon Hurricane Maria, misogyny, homophobia, sexism, etc. Upon finding out, the island took to the streets demanding his resignation, and San Juan (the location of the governor’s mansion) was filled with over half a million islanders demanding his resignation.

While some pages of the chat were circulating around social media, the governor was in Europe on a family vacation. Three days after, he canceled his vacation and returned to Puerto Rico. Attempting to calm the situation, he released a public apology but kept his position as governor. When that failed, he announced the resignation of almost all the members in the chat but kept his position as governor. However, that same day all 889 pages of the chat had been published. Pages filled with disgusting comments, one of Rosselló’s most infamous phrases being “cogemos de pe****os hasta los nuestros” (we’ll fool even our own). Mass protests took place in Old San Juan, demanding a resignation.

After this, the governor went on an apology tour. He attended a public religious service at Church, confessed, asked for forgiveness, insisting on remaining as governor. He was interviewed on FM radio station Z-93, stating that his wife Beatriz Rosselló had forgiven him and insisted on remaining as governor. He traveled to Lares, a town in Puerto Rico, and publicly apologized to a supporter with morbid obesity that he fat-shamed and made fun of in the chats, planning to remain governor. Rosselló once more asked for forgiveness through a press release and expressed his desire for a reconciliation with the people, insisting on remaining as governor. He announced on Facebook that he would not run for reelection in 2020 and that he would resign from his post as president of the PNP but not the governorship. He also falsely claimed the support of Mayor Javier Jimenez on a Fox News interview, which the mayor denied.

Needless to say, his apologies didn’t work. Because while all of this was going on, the streets of San Juan were so full of people chanting phrases from the leaked chats and banging on cooking pots that other islanders longing to fight resorted to protesting on horseback and on water (through jet skis and kayaks). The dedication and passion of the island remained even after being met with teargas and aggression. Puerto Ricans in New York, Orlando, Chicago, and other cities also joined in on protests demanding Rosselló’s resignation. Bad Bunny, Ricky Martin, Daddy Yankee, Residente, and many other Puerto Rican artists flew to the island from wherever they were to take part in the uprising. Bad Bunny and Residente’s song “Afilando Los Cuchillos” (Sharpening Our Knives), dedicated to the governor, resonated in the crowd. History was made on July 24, 2019, when Ricardo Rosselló announced via a televised message that he would resign on August 2. Proving, once again, the true meaning of the word democracy. A political system ruled by the people.


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