Why is Puerto Rico’s Governor Being Pressured to Resign?

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló is being pressured to resign after racist, homophobic, and misogynistic messages leaked — but this isn't the first time he's been under fire during his three years in office.

Puerto Rico in Protest

Thousands of protestors in Puerto Rico gathered to demand the resignation of Governor Ricardo “Ricky” Rosselló. Due to the leak of sexist and homophobic texts exchanged between the governor and members of his administration. Amongst their targets: singer Ricky Martin Text-message said: “Ricky Martin is so macho that he f**** men because women do not measure up. pure patriarchy” There were insults: The group made fun of an obese man the governor had posed with in a photo; called former New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito a “whore”; made homophobic remarks about pop star Ricky Martin; and said that Carmen Yulín Cruz, the mayor of San Juan who had announced her intent to run for governor against Rosselló in 2020, was “off her meds … either that, or she’s a tremendous HP,” the governor said, using the Spanish initials for “son/daughter of a b----.” On social media, Ricky Martin asked Puerto Ricans to continue protesting. Reggaeton star Bad Bunny, has interrupted his European tour to join in the protests. With singers Residente and iLe, he has composed and anthem for the protests.

Puerto Rico is an unincorporated U.S. territory. Rosselló had already been criticized in 2017 for his handling of Hurricane Maria — one of the worst natural disasters on record in the U.S. The storm left parts of the island without electricity for 10 months and worsened Puerto Rico's financial crisis. Since then, several administrative officials have been tried for corruption. The messages were also leaked on the same week Puerto Rico's former secretary of education, Julia Keleher; former Puerto Rico Health Insurance Administration head Ángela Ávila-Marrero; and four others with government contracts under Rosselló’s administration were arrested and charged with 32 counts of money laundering, fraud and other related charges for allegedly embezzling $15.5 million in federal funding from 2017 to 2019. The Rosselló administration has been rocked by various other corruption investigations particulary in 2019. Rosselló ousted Maldonado as chief financial officer after Maldonado said on a radio show that Puerto Rico’s Department of Treasury is run by "an institutional mafia of many years.” Two officials have already resigned in response to the protests.