June 24, 2021

Puerto Rico: Protests over homophobic text messages

Pin It

From BBC

Thousands have marched in Puerto Rico for the fifth consecutive day, calling for the resignation of Governor Ricardo Rosselló.

Protesters are demanding he resign after text messages between Mr Rosselló and his team were leaked on Saturday.

The messages contained sexist and homophobic comments including references to singer Ricky Martin’s sexuality.

Mr Rosselló has refused to step down.

Protesters say they have had enough of corruption on the island. They have also criticised the recovery efforts following Hurricane Maria in 2017.

Two former top government officials from Mr Rosselló’s administration were among a group arrested last week and charged with conspiracy and fraud involving millions of dollars in federal funding.

Large crowds have gathered in San Juan for the past five days chanting “Ricky, resign!”

On several days, police were seen firing tear gas at protesters in the capital.

What is the text message scandal about?

The text messages, obtained by Puerto Rico’s Centre for Investigative Journalism, span some 900 pages. They were from a group chat that included the governor and 11 of his aides and cabinet members.

The messages include jokes about Hurricane Maria victims along with sexist and homophobic comments. Nearly 3,000 people were killed when the hurricane hit the island in 2017. However a Harvard estimate puts the toll at more than 4,600.

Protesters take part in a demonstration in San Juan
Image captionThe messages, spanning some 900 pages, contain homophobic comments

In one conversation, Christian Sobrino, then chief fiscal officer of Puerto Rico says he is “salivating to shoot” San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz. Ms Cruz has criticised the governor in the past.

Mr Rosselló replies: “You’d be doing me a grand favour.”

Another message from Mr Sobrino described singer Ricky Martin as a “male chauvinist” before referencing his sexuality.

What has been the response?

Mr Rosselló has apologised for the messages and said he respected the right to protest peacefully. He has also vowed to provide greater transparency and accountability to his government.

Mr Sobrino and Secretary of State Luis Rivera Marin resigned following the leak.

A statement from White House spokesman Judd Deere said that the events “prove the president’s concerns about mismanagement, politicisation and corruption have been valid”.

Major figures have come out in support of the protesters. Ricky Martin led a protest to the governor’s house on Wednesday.

Rick Martin attends march in Puerto Rico
Image caption Ricky Martin has joined protests on the island in recent days

The singer said in a video on Twitter: “They mocked our dead, they mocked women, they mocked the LGBT community, they made fun of people with physical and mental disabilities, they made fun of obesity. It’s enough. This cannot be.”

Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda has shared images of the protests in Puerto Rico and attended a demonstration in New York.

Reggaeton artist Bad Bunny has stopped his European tour to return to Puerto Rico and protest. He praised the “bravery” of people on the island.

What is the status of Puerto Rico?

Puerto Rico has been a US territory since 1898. Everyone born on the island is an American citizen and holds a US passport. However they cannot vote in the US presidential elections unless they are registered to vote in one of the 50 US states.

Mr Rosselló promised to push for the island to become a state during his election campaign in 2016.

It is still recovering from Hurricane Maria. Mr Rosselló has faced criticism for the handling of the recovery efforts.

The island is also in the midst of a financial crisis and has billions of dollars in debt.

For more on this story and video go to: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-49030485

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
About ieyenews

Speak Your Mind