Puerto Ricans are vowing to continue their protests of the island’s leadership until one major demand is met.
They want Governor Ricardo Rossello, already under pressure to step down because of the mounting debt the island faces, along with his administration’s response following Hurricane Maria, to resign.
The demonstrations began earlier this week after correspondence between members of Rossello’s administration came to light – including one online exchange where a former chief financial officer appeared to joke about dead bodies that piled up on the island after Maria.
Jason Ortiz, the president of the Connecticut Puerto Rican Agenda, was actually on vacationing on the island when the situation surrounding Rossello came to a head and he participated in the recent protests. He doesn’t think they’ll stop anytime soon.
“They’re growing,” Ortiz said. “There’s tens, if not hundreds of thousands of people, in Viejo San Juan chanting. And now, we have some of the biggest celebrities folks endorsing the movement – [hip hop artist] Residente, [rapper] Bad Bunny, [singer] Ricky Martin, [actor] Benicio Del Toro have all committed to helping the protests continued.”
Martin, the Livin’ La Vida Loca singer, was one of the people smeared by Puerto Rican officials in the private chat that was leaked to the public.
On Monday night, Ortiz participated in a demonstration outside of the governor’s residence in San Juan. The protesters called for Rossello’s resignation, chanting ‘Renuncia Ricky.' They were greeted with tear gas.
“I’ve never seen tear gas be more ineffective in my life,” Ortiz said. “The Puerto Rican organizers there were able to calm the crowd down so there wasn’t people running. Dispense with the canister and move it away and push right back up again.”
Rossello condemned the protests as an act of “vandalism, aggression, and violence” during a news conference Wednesday. He then announced that he wouldn’t be resigning.
“I need to move forward and continue on the work we're doing for Puerto Rico," Rossello said.
Ortiz, the advocate, pledged to return home and make it his job to amplify the message of his fellow protesters to the Puerto Rican diaspora in Connecticut.