Puerto Ricans stage massive protest to expel governor
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Thousands of Puerto Rican flags fluttered in the morning breeze as demonstrators arrived from across the island today for what many expected to be one of the biggest protests ever seen in the U.S. territory, with irate islanders pledging to drive Gov. Ricardo Rosselló from office.
Hundreds of thousands of people were expected to take over one of the island's busiest highways to press demands for the resignation of Rosselló over an obscenity-laced leaked online chat the governor had with allies as well as federal corruption charges leveled against his administration.
The demonstration in the capital of San Juan came a day after Rosselló announced he would not quit, but sought to calm the unrest by promising not to seek re-election or continue as head of his pro-statehood political party. That only further angered his critics, who have mounted street demonstrations for more than a week.
"The people are not going to go away," said Johanna Soto, of the northeastern city of Carolina. "That's what he's hoping for, but we outnumber him."
The territory's largest newspaper, El Nuevo Dia, added to the pressure with a front page headline reading: "Governor, it's time to listen to the people: You have to resign."
Organizers labeled the planned road shutdown "660,510 + 1," which represents the number of people who voted for Rosselló plus one more to reject his argument he is not resigning because he was chosen by the people.
It was the 10th consecutive day of protests, and more were being called for later in the week. The island's largest mall, Plaza de las Américas, closed ahead of the protest as did dozens of other businesses.
In a video posted Sunday night on Facebook, Rosselló said he welcomed people's freedom to express themselves. He also said he was looking forward to defending himself against the process of impeachment, whose initial stages are being explored by Puerto Rico's legislature.