Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló soon to resign? Aide says not yet – USA TODAY
Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo RossellÃ³ faces calls to resign after private chats leaked, revealing the men mocking women and victims of Hurricane Maria.
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SAN JUAN â A spokesman for the governor of Puerto Rico on Wednesday tamped down expectations that Ricardo RossellÃ³’s resignation was imminent despite widespread media reports that he would quit amidÂ a torrent of protests over vulgar, mean-spirited texting conversations.
A final decision will be “officially communicated” when it has been made, RossellÃ³ spokesman Anthony Maceira told NotiUno 360.
âGov. Ricardo RossellÃ³ Nevares has not resigned,” Maceira said.Â “As he said yesterday, he is in a process of reflection and listening to the people.”
Puerto Rico House Speaker Johnny MÃ©ndez said heÂ informedÂ RossellÃ³ that impeachment proceedings to remove the governor from office have begun.Â MÃ©ndez was among several politicians disparaged in the texts.
If RossellÃ³ quits, Justice Secretary Wanda VÃ¡zquez would be his successor becauseÂ the secretary of state position is vacant.Â Luis Rivera MarÃn, one of the closest associatesÂ of RossellÃ³, resigned that post July 13 after the leak of 889 pages of private messages on Telegram between the governor and high-ranking officials.
It is possible, however, that a new secretary of state could be installed beforeÂ RossellÃ³ formally steps down.
AÂ judge issued search warrantsÂ Tuesday for the cellphones of government officials tied to the two-week scandal. Every day brought more resignations and hints that criminal charges could follow.Â RossellÃ³ chief of staff Ricardo LlerandiÂ quit Tuesday, citingÂ threats to his family.
Tens of thousands of protesters shut down streetsÂ in the Hato Rey sectionÂ of San Juan on Monday to demandÂ RossellÃ³’s resignation. SmallerÂ rallies have taken place almost daily for two weeks.
RossellÃ³ resigned the presidency of his political party a few days ago, also announcing that he would notÂ run in next year’s gubernatorial election.Â His place at the head of the New Progressive Party, the island’s most influential, will be taken by Senate PresidentÂ Thomas Rivera Schatz.
“To those who vote for our party, your trust and support is our most valuable asset,”Â Schatz said in statement. “We will do our part to never let them down. We are counting on all of you.”
But he had balked at resigning as governor, saying he was focused on completing the island’s recovery from the devastation of Hurricane Maria and on battling political corruption.
In a brief statement Tuesday, however, he showed signs that he might walk away.
âThe people are talking and I have to listen,” RossellÃ³ said. “These have been moments of total reflection and of making decisions that are executed based on the concerns of the people of Puerto Rico and their best interests.”
RossellÃ³ took office less than three years ago to much excitement, a young family man and son of a former governor. But the territory was already saddled in debt, and the devastation of Hurricane Maria less than a year into his term added to the strain on his government.
He drew rampant criticism for understating the death toll from the hurricane, and the recovery effort struggled. He also drew fire for failing to challenge President Donald Trump’s behavior when he visited the island, behavior viewed by many Puerto Ricans as arrogant and dismissive.
More recently, charges of political corruption within the government began to emerge. The texts were the final straw, Carlos A. SuÃ¡rez Carrasquillo, a Puerto Rico native who lectures on Latin American at the University of Florida, told USA TODAY.Â Â
“The final blow to his legacy came in the aftermath of the Telegram chats where his â and his staffâs â disparaging words against Puerto Ricans from all walks of life, a public policy of targeting political enemies,” he said. “And his unwillingness to hear the demands of the people make his case remarkable.”
Bacon reported from McLean, Va.