Protests in Puerto Rico

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12:05 p.m. ET, July 18, 2019

Puerto Rico governor says protests have "not gone unnoticed"

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said the protests have "not gone unnoticed."

Demonstrators have been calling for Rosselló to resign after 900 pages of misogynistic and homophobic messages between him and his advisors were leaked. Officers sprayed tear gas on protesters during an intense stand-off in front of the governor's mansion on Wednesday night.

Rosselló tweeted a statement Thursday that said "I recognize the challenge that I have before me because of the recent controversies, but I firmly believe that it is possible to restore confidence and that we will be able, after this painful process, to achieve reconciliation."

He also said "I have the commitment, stronger than ever, to carry out the public policy."

CNN correspondent Leyla Santiago tweeted a translation of the statement.

Read it in English:

Rosselló's original statement in Spanish:

11:12 a.m. ET, July 18, 2019

President Trump: Puerto Rico leadership is "corrupt" and "robbing the U.S. Government blind"

President Trump tweeted saying "a lot of bad things are happening in Puerto Rico."

This came after protestors clashed with police Wednesday night. They are calling for Governor Ricardo Rosselló to resign after 900 pages of offensive messages were leaked.

Trump continued: "The Governor is under siege, the Mayor of San Juan is a despicable and incompetent person who I wouldn't trust under any circumstance."

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz has been urging people to join demonstrations.

President Trump also tweeted about the money given to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria –– saying it was "squandered away or wasted" and that "much of their leadership is corrupt, & robbing the U.S. Government blind!"

Read the tweets:

10:36 a.m. ET, July 18, 2019

Puerto Rico Secretary of Public Safety: "Obviously we need to investigate"

Puerto Rico Secretary of Public Safety Elmer Román said he will investigate Wednesday night’s violent protests after being shown a CNN video of an officer grabbing a protestor.

Initially, when corespondent Leyla Santiago asked Román why the officer grabbed the protestor, he said it was because the protestor was trying to jump the barricade, which would be illegal.

But when Santiago showed Román the video, where she describes an officer grabbing a protestor that was not trying to jump the barricade, Román said they “obviously needed to investigate.”

He continued: “Now that I’ve seen it, we definitely want to do that (investigate). That’s actually part of the police reform process and we make sure we investigate any potential violations of civil rights.”
9:47 a.m. ET, July 18, 2019

Here's what you need to know about the unrest in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is in a state of unrest after a series of protests this week. Protesters are calling for Governor Ricardo Rosselló to resign.

Here's what you need to know:

Protests were sparked by 900 pages of leaked chats.

Nearly 900 pages of leaked chats from a governor's private Telegram Messenger group, obtained by Puerto Rico's Center for Investigative Journalism, were published over the weekend.

The messages, dubbed "RickyLeaks," contain profanity-laden, homophobic and misogynistic messages aimed at opposition politicians, journalists and celebrities.

The messages between the governor and 11 top aides and Cabinet members were sent in December 2018 and January 2019.

Many protestors say this is also about corruption and abuse, not just the leaked messages.

"We are tired of the abuse, of so many years of corruption," a protester, Leishka Flores, told CNN. "We are here to make a revolution."

Police fired tear gas at protestors during one of the biggest demonstrations Wednesday night.

Protestors marched to the the governor's official residence, known locally as La Fortaleza. When they reached the governor's mansion, they met a barricade of police in riot gear blocking the street, but continued chanting against Rosselló for hours.

Earlier on Wednesday, Puerto Rico's Justice Department issued summonses for everyone involved in the private chat group with Rosselló.

Puerto Ricans are calling for Governor Ricardo Rosselló to resign, but he has refused.

"I will continue my work and my responsibility to the people of Puerto Rico," the governor told reporters Tuesday.

Similar demonstrations took place in US mainland cities like Miami and Orlando, Florida –– all calling for Rosselló to step down.

The mayor of San Juan is urging people to join demonstrations.

Ahead of Wednesday's protests in San Juan, Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz said she won't allow police officers to block or injure demonstrators.

"I'm not going to cooperate with his (Roselló's) abuses. I won't be part of his efforts to criminalize the legitimate right of the people of Puerto Rico to ask for his resignation," she said.

10:12 a.m. ET, July 18, 2019

Embattled Puerto Rico Governor refuses to resign

Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Rossello is interviewed by a TV channel after a House vote at the Capitol December 21, 2017 in Washington, DC.
Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Rossello is interviewed by a TV channel after a House vote at the Capitol December 21, 2017 in Washington, DC. Alex Wong/Getty Images

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló defiantly announced he would not step down Tuesday, hours after police fired tear gas into crowds of protesters calling for his ouster.

Protests have been taking place for days following the release of nearly 900 pages from the governor's private group chat obtained by The Center for Investigative Journalism and published via Telegram.

The leaked chats reveal a vengeful approach in running the government, with conversations between Rosselló and his inner circle including homophobic and anti-female sentiments.

Rosselló told reporters Tuesday that he will not resign. He also defended the actions of police and accused protestors of unleashing tear gas and setting fires during demonstrations Monday night.

"I will continue my work and my responsibility to the people of Puerto Rico," the embattled governor said at a news conference.

The leaks came the same week two former officials from Rosselló's administration were arrested by the FBI as part of a federal corruption investigation.

10:10 a.m. ET, July 18, 2019

Here's what protests looked like Wednesday night

Protestors are clearing the streets Thursday morning after clashing with police all night. They marched to Governor Ricardo Rosselló official residence, known locally as La Fortaleza. At the governor's mansion, they were met by a barricade of police in riot gear blocking the street.

The demonstrations come after 900 pages of offensive messages sent by Rosselló were leaked. They are calling for the governor to resign, but he has refused.

CNN correspondent Leyla Santiago was at the protests.

Here's what it looked like:

Once demonstrators arrived at the mansion, there was an intense standoff with a barricade of police.

Soon, police used tear gas to push the protestors back.

This morning, after protestors dispersed, workers cleaned the streets of San Juan and accessed the damage.

9:48 a.m. ET, July 18, 2019

These are some of the leaked chat messages at the center of Puerto Rico's political crisis

Puerto Rico's Governor Ricardo Rosselló and 11 top aides and Cabinet members exchanged profanity-laced, homophobic and misogynistic messages about fellow politicians, members of the media, celebrities and others in a scandal many are calling "RickyLeaks." The messages were sent in December 2018 and January 2019.

Here are some targets of the offending exchanges:

Gary Gershoff/Getty Images for Housing Works, Inc.
Gary Gershoff/Getty Images for Housing Works, Inc.

Former New York City Council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito

Rosselló apologized last week after the leak of a chat message in which he referred to Melissa Mark-Viverito, the Puerto Rico-born former speaker of the New York City Council, using the Spanish word for "whore."

The governor wrote that he was upset Mark-Viverito had criticized Tom Perez, chair of the Democratic National Committee, for backing statehood for Puerto Rico.

"Our people should come out and defend Tom and beat up that whore," Rosselló wrote.

Mark-Viverito traveled to the island to join protesters in their calls for the governor to resign.

"A person who uses that language against a woman, whether a public figure or not, should not govern Puerto Rico ...this type of behavior is completely unacceptable," she wrote on Twitter.

Rich Fury/Getty Images
Rich Fury/Getty Images

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz is frequent critic of the governor.

In the chat, Christian Sobrino Vega -- who was Puerto Rico's chief fiscal officer at the time, and Roselló's representative on the federal board responsible for managing Puerto Rico's financial crisis -- expressed frustration with Yulín Cruz.

"I am salivating to shoot her," he wrote.

"You'd be doing me a grand favor," the governor responded, according to the leaked chats.

At one point, the governor writes that Yulín Cruz must be "off her meds" by deciding to run against him.

"Either that, or she's a tremendous HP," he said, using the Spanish acronym for "son/daughter of a bitch."

Yulín Cruz belongs to the opposition Popular Democratic Party and is running for governor.

Sobrino Vega and Secretary of State Luis Rivera Marin, who also participated in the chats, have both resigned.

ERIC ROJAS/AFP/Getty Images
ERIC ROJAS/AFP/Getty Images

Puerto Rican singer Ricky Martin

In the chats, Sobrino Vega made vulgar references to Puerto Rican star Ricky Martin's sexuality.

"Nothing says patriarchal oppression like Ricky Martin," he wrote.

"Ricky Martin is such a male chauvinist that he f---- men because women don't measure up. Pure patriarchy."

Martin and other artists on the island took to social media to condemn Rossello's government and call for his resignation.

Read more about Rossello's leaked texts here.