Ricky, Renuncia!
July 17, 2019 8:18 PM   Subscribe

This was the fifth day of protests in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where thousands have gathered to call for the resignation of Governor Ricardo Rosselló. Last week, corruption charges were filed against Rosselló and 900 pages of private messages were leaked - peppered with a number of sexist and homophobic remarks and making light of the death toll from Hurricane Maria. Rosselló has so far refused calls to resign. The police chief, Henry Escalera, made a statement on Monday claiming that the PRPD will defend democracy in Puerto Rico (meaning, in this case, the governor) "with the last drop of blood" (Spanish language source).

ACLU-PR has been a good source of information so far. The hashtag to follow is #rickyrenuncia
posted by dinty_moore (32 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

"Puerto Ricans from across the island gathered in the U.S. commonwealth's capital, joined by high-profile stars such as Ricky Martin, reggaeton stars Bad Bunny and Residente, award-winning actor Benicio Del Toro and beloved island celebrities like Tommy Torres, Karla Monroig and PJ Sin Suela, who rallied the crowd amid a sea of Puerto Rican flags, bullhorns and signs.

"I'm here in support of the people of Puerto Rico," Del Toro said during the rally".
posted by The Whelk at 9:32 PM on July 17, 2019 [2 favorites]

There's a lot of coverage in the Spanish-language media:

Puerto Rico's largest newspaper, El Nuevo Día

Live news from Telemundo Puerto Rico

page on Puerto Rico news

El Vocero, a daily free newspaper, and Primera Hora, another local source
posted by mdonley at 10:30 PM on July 17, 2019 [3 favorites]

(El Nuevo Día also has an English section here.)
posted by mdonley at 10:32 PM on July 17, 2019 [2 favorites]

Cool! Can we do Washington DC next?
posted by saysthis at 3:38 AM on July 18, 2019 [3 favorites]

Yeah, if you can read the Spanish language news sources or don't mind using google translate, I'd check them. The English language ones are pretty uniformly terrible - I wasn't happy with the Guardian's description of Carmen Yulín Cruz, but most of the English language ones seemed to come off as 'The governor said something homophobic about Ricky Martin so he's leading thousands in protest'. Which isn't quite what's happening here.

Other important pieces of context:
1. The corruptions charges were so expected that they're seen as an embarrassment. Rosselló's father was also Governor of Puerto Rico, and also famously corrupt.
2. The main driving force seems to be stealing money meant for Puerto Rico's recovery, then making jokes about Maria's body count, plus the sexist things said about Carmen Yulín Cruz and homophobic things about Ricky Martin - in light of these were people who were very critical of Rosselló's response to the hurricane and aftermath.
3. Puerto Rico's police force is notoriously heavy-handed with sending out the tactical/SWAT teams . . . moreso than the rest of the US.
posted by dinty_moore at 5:08 AM on July 18, 2019 [6 favorites]

Thanks for this. I've seen almost nothing about the protests in the English-language US news, which is distressing but sadly unsurprising. I really appreciate both the news links and the context.
posted by biogeo at 9:32 AM on July 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

Highly recommend following Marisol LeBrón, a Latinx studies scholar who is awesome and one of the folks who created the Puerto Rico Syllabus in the wake of Maria. Recently tweeted this resource
My colleague @yarimarbonilla has created this google doc with a list of analysts to reach out to who aren’t the people creating misery in the lives of Puerto Ricans
posted by spamandkimchi at 9:33 AM on July 18, 2019 [5 favorites]

Also, from the NPR article in the FPP, UPR professor Felix Cordova notes:
Privatizing public services introduces a profit motive, Cordova says, which makes it easier for corruption to flourish.
Which is just a sideline in the whole piece, but... jeez, it's refreshing to hear someone actually say it.
posted by biogeo at 9:38 AM on July 18, 2019 [4 favorites]

Thanks for that recommendation, spamandkimchi. It looks like LeBrón has just published an article: The Protests in Puerto Rico Are About Life and Death, which was the sort of English language coverage I was looking for last night but not able to find.
posted by dinty_moore at 10:49 AM on July 18, 2019 [6 favorites]

David Begnaud was the first reporter from a major news network to report on this protest, and one of the first to report on Hurricane Maria. Puerto Ricans are showing their support by tweeting #DavidBegnaudpuede, with responses including 'sell me herbalife', 'use my rewards points at walgreens', and 'take my parking at Plaza Las Américas during Christmas shopping'.

You can see his CBS this morning piece here.

Protests continued last night, and the Governor denounced the violence of the protesters and repeated his refusal to resign. (note: the protesters were not especially violent, considering somewhere between 100,000 and half a million people)

The new hashtag for twitter is RickyDictador. Last night it was trending #1 in the US. It looks like the protests might now be front page news in a lot of US papers.
posted by dinty_moore at 4:39 AM on July 19, 2019 [3 favorites]

Sharpening the Knives’: Musicians Join the Protests in Puerto Rico (NYT)
The pop superstar Ricky Martin, the rapper Residente, his sister iLe, and the Latin trap artist Bad Bunny combined their efforts in support of a social movement like no other Puerto Rico has ever seen. Bad Bunny, whose legal name is Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio, even cut off a tour to fly to San Juan. They joined the singers La India and Danny Rivera and the actor Benicio Del Toro, who were present at a protest Wednesday night that filled the streets from the Capitol to the governor’s mansion a mile away.

Mr. Martin announced his participation in a video on Twitter that he shared with his 20 million followers.

#PuertoRico nos vemos mañana en el la marcha a ls 5pm frente al Capitolio pic.twitter.com/4cZM1KF3Kn
— Ricky Martin (@ricky_martin) July 17, 2019

“Frustrated. Angry. I feel this horrible pressure in my chest,” he said. “How do I free myself of this anguish? Simply traveling to Puerto Rico.”

Residente, iLe and Bad Bunny produced a protest song — written and recorded in one day — called “Afilando los Cuchillos” (Sharpening the Knives) that had 2.5 million views on YouTube within a day of its release.

The playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda joined the protest in New York.

Experts say the involvement of artists from so many different genres of music, from pop to reggaeton to Latin trap, could draw a range of young people who are usually turned off by traditional party politics. And it likely tightened the pressure on the governor, who is increasingly isolated with few public supporters.
posted by Little Dawn at 8:04 AM on July 19, 2019

More Puerto Rico protests planned as governor resists calls to resign (Reuters)
Massive and at times violent protests in Puerto Rico showed no sign of stopping as labor unions on Thursday organized a Friday march to keep up pressure on the governor to resign, while dozens of guns were stolen in a raid on [a] police firearms center. [...] The guns were stolen from a police station in the coastal city of Guayama, which was vandalized with graffiti calling for the governor to resign or face bullets, according to a Thursday police statement. The FBI was investigating, it said. [...]

Wednesday’s protest, the biggest so far, included singer and actor Ricky Martin and reggaeton artist Bad Bunny. Rossello acknowledged that people have the right to protest, but he chastised “a few” protesters who he said had clashed with and injured police.

Citing “questionable riot-control practices,” U.S. Representative Nydia Velazquez, a New York Democrat, on Wednesday asked the U.S. Justice Department to protect the civil rights of protesters on the island by deploying personnel to “observe and document” local police activity.

“It is my belief that the federal government must employ all appropriate mechanisms to prevent and address grievances stemming from alleged abusive practices,” she said in a letter, adding she was troubled by reports that federal immigration agents will be involved in policing protests.
Rosselló’s refusal to resign gives Trump ammunition to attack Puerto Rico (McClatchyDC)
On Thursday morning, the tweet went out.

“A lot of bad things are happening in Puerto Rico,” Trump wrote. “The Governor is under siege, the Mayor of San Juan is a despicable and incompetent person who I wouldn’t trust under any circumstance, and the United States Congress foolishly gave 92 Billion Dollars for hurricane relief, much of which was squandered away or wasted, never to be seen again.” [...]

An hour after Trump’s tweet, Rosselló said he had no plans to resign.

And his refusal gives Trump the narrative that he wants, according to Rep. Raul Grijalva, the top Democrat with oversight of Puerto Rico’s finances on Capitol Hill. “I think this whole issue now with the arrests and the ongoing investigation, the protests, feeds into the Trump narrative where they say, ‘We can’t trust them, we shouldn’t send money,’” said Grijalva, an Arizona Democrat who leads House Natural Resources Committee. “The second-class status has been reaffirmed by this administration and now they have a narrative.” [...]

[Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.], a Puerto Rican who was born in New York and represents thousands of Puerto Ricans in the Bronx and Queens, isn’t calling for Rosselló to go. “One of the issues that I’ve heard brought up in terms of calling for resignation is the idea of sovereignty and the idea that Rosselló’s resignation should not come from pressure from D.C. but that it should come from people on the island,” Ocasio-Cortez said.

[...] Trump’s tweet on Puerto Rico included the longstanding falsehood that the U.S. territory received $92 billion in federal assistance after Hurricane Maria. About $42 billion has been approved by Congress for recovery, but the government has only promised to spend $20.6 billion and $13.6 billion has been spent so far, according to FEMA. [...]

Florida state Rep. Anna Eskamani, the first Florida lawmaker to call for Rossello’s ouster after seeing the protests and talking to Puerto Rican constituents, said the president is using Rossello’s conduct to make an unrelated and false claim on hurricane relief meant to stir up his base. Eskamani represents an Orlando-area district near the state’s largest Puerto Rican communities.

“Trump these days is more concerned about inflaming a racist base,” Eskamani said. “I think that his statements and his remarks are irrelevant when it comes to solving the problem. They’re designed to attempt to prove a point and provide furor between racial lines.”
posted by Little Dawn at 8:42 AM on July 19, 2019

The NYT's daily podcast today is a decent three-minute rundown of what is going on.
posted by dinty_moore at 10:15 AM on July 19, 2019

Cool! Can we do Washington DC next?

Um Bowser is pretty cozy with developers, but the District is overall somewhat more functional than Puerto Rico (although we have way fewer people and even less autonomy, budget-wise).

Unless you mean Trump, in which case . . . quit it.
posted by aspersioncast at 11:50 AM on July 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

Puerto Rico: top US politicians join chorus calling for governor's resignation (Guardian)
Protesters issued Rosselló with a Sunday evening deadline to resign but the governor has shown no sign he plans to leave [...]

On Friday morning, Julián Castro, the former Obama administration housing secretary, became the first high-polling Democratic presidential candidate to call for Rosselló to go.

“I stand with the Puerto Ricans in the streets protesting for his resignation,” Castro tweeted. “Excessive force against them is not acceptable.”

Castro was joined on Friday evening by others, including the congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, of New York, and the Florida senator Rick Scott, a Republican, who also called on the governor to resign.
posted by Little Dawn at 9:32 AM on July 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

U.S. lawmakers demand Puerto Rico governor resign as protests roil island (Reuters)
Puerto Rico House Speaker Carlos Mendez on Friday announced the creation of an independent committee to determine whether the center-right politician engaged in illegal activity in the chats. The group has ten days to deliver its findings.

The island’s bar association published a report citing clear grounds to impeach the 40-year-old former scientist, based on the “depravity” of his messages. The chats, revealed by Puerto Rico’s Center for Investigative Journalism, showed how Rossello and allies exchanged vulgar memes and comments as well as privileged information.

While opposition legislators back impeachment, the process has yet to gain critical support from lawmakers in Rossello’s ruling party.

But politicians like Gonzalez are increasingly concerned about Puerto Rico’s “anarchic” image after clashes in San Juan this week and allegations the two administration officials arrested by the FBI stole government funds.

The violence and political turmoil comes at a critical stage in the U.S. territory’s bankruptcy process. It has also raised concerns with U.S. lawmakers who are weighing the island’s requests for billions of federal dollars for healthcare and hurricane recovery efforts.
posted by Little Dawn at 10:58 PM on July 20, 2019

From Puerto Rico: The Maroons are Deathless, We are Deathless (more of a background context on the current situation)

There's a lot of fear that this scandal will be used as an excuse to take away whatever autonomy that Puerto Rico currently has; feeding into the stereotype of the corrupt island government - this might explain the slant that some of the conservative news sources are taking on reporting on PR. Also, this Washington Post editorial that all-out suggests it.

Police presence has been ramping up night after night, and there are reports that the PRPD are trying to keep people from entering San Juan.

Sunday Morning lends itself to a calmer form of protest - yoga.

There's a general strike planned for Monday. Plaza las Americas (largest mall on the island, and where David Begnaud is free to get parking anytime) will be closed on Monday due planned protests on the highways nearby.
posted by dinty_moore at 6:43 AM on July 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

Video taken from a nearby high-rise that shows the entire scope of today's protest. (it's likely that today's protest is larger than the 1999 protest against the US Navy in Vieques.)

It started raining. That doesn't seem to have slowed anyone down.

A more in-depth article on the disparate groups that are coming together for these protests.
posted by dinty_moore at 2:03 PM on July 22, 2019 [4 favorites]

The police were storming barricades and setting cars on fire with tear gas grenades in San Juan last night.
posted by GalaxieFiveHundred at 8:02 AM on July 23, 2019 [1 favorite]

According to the police, someone has thrown something at them at around 11pm every single night, right after they ask the protesters to disperse. A coincidence, I'm sure.

Posted by a member of PR’s finest, after last night’s clash with police: “and the streets are nice and clean / they say that they are many more and are not afraid / they forget that there are less of us but we carry a load of gas” Reformed Police Department?

From what I can tell, most studies on police shootings in the US seem to ignore Puerto Rico so it's hard to put it in perspective, but there's been an ongoing issue with the Police department fighting reform and low pay, along with police shootings and police-instigated violence against women.

Also, they've straight up been saying that the constitution doesn't apply to the protesters and they're going to fight the protesters to the last drop of blood. So.
posted by dinty_moore at 11:23 AM on July 23, 2019 [3 favorites]

Rosselló expected to resign later today.

This is after the head of the group of Puerto Rican mayors, his chief of staff, and the owner of Plaza Las Americas all called for him to resign.

The federal financial oversight board is taking the moment to call for more power. This oversight board was created in 2016 in response to Puerto Rico's debt crisis, and has created the fiscal austerity plan that Puerto Rico has been operating under since. Members of the oversight board are appointed by the President of the United States.
posted by dinty_moore at 6:16 AM on July 24, 2019 [6 favorites]

I'm on the southern side of the island and all is quiet here. I sort of miss going out to protest. Maybe we can do it as a family on Saturday, if Rossello is still in office.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 11:12 AM on July 24, 2019 [3 favorites]

Well, dances_with_sneeches, I guess you might get your chance.

(the governor has not yet resigned, keeping reporters - and the crowds outside - waiting for hours)
posted by dinty_moore at 7:13 PM on July 24, 2019

He resigned. El poder esta en la calle! Congratulations Puerto Rico!
posted by WidgetAlley at 9:16 PM on July 24, 2019 [9 favorites]

Rosselló has picked Pedro Pierluisi to become the next Secretary of State - and therefore succeed him as Puerto Rico's next governor.

Pierluisi ran against Rosselló in the primaries for the 2016 governor's election. Before that, he was Puerto Rico's representative in congress. He also worked for Rosselló's father's administration. He currently works for the financial oversight board put in place by PROMESA.

The person who was previously next in line, Wanda Vázquez, was also a target of protests due to her not pursuing prosecutions of her own party along with mishandling prosecutions involving sexual assault), and didn't even want the job.

The previous secretary of state resigned due to his role in the telegram app chats.

Raúl Grijalva (AZ-3) is still planning on pushing for a review of PROMESA (and the role of the financial oversight board) in September, but is aware that 'the conversation about Puerto Rico has changed'.
posted by dinty_moore at 9:20 AM on July 31, 2019

Puerto Rican Crisis Deepens Amid Clash Over Sworn-in Governor (NYT)

Essentially Pierluisi was confirmed by Puerto Rico's House of Representatives to be Secretary of State (so he then could become Governor). He was not confirmed by Puerto Rico's Senate. The senate was expected to vote on on his confirmation today - and Pierluisi looked like he was going to resign if he wasn't confirmed. But now Pierluisi is claiming that since he's already Governor, he doesn't have to be confirmed as Secretary of State. The planned senate hearing has been cancelled.
posted by dinty_moore at 7:02 AM on August 5, 2019

The Puerto Rican Supreme Court rules that Pierluisi cannot be Puerto Rico's governor since he was not confirmed by the Senate.

It appears that Wanda Vázquez is likely to be sworn in as governor today.

(both candidates are horrible and unpopular, just for different reasons)
posted by dinty_moore at 10:59 AM on August 7, 2019

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