Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló announced his resignation amid a scandal over sexist, homophobic and otherwise offensive text messages he and his inner circle exchanged. The leaked texts set off mass demonstrations and widespread calls for his departure. His resignation comes after nearly two weeks of street protests, including hundreds of thousands of people on Monday who shut down an 11-lane highway in San Juan.
Puerto Rico’s governor on Sunday said he would not seek re-election next year but refused to resign as the island braced for more protests by demonstrators demanding he step down over offensive chat messages. The July 13 publication of sexist and homophobic chat messages between Rossello and top aides unleashed simmering resentment over his handling of devastating 2017 hurricanes, alleged corruption in his administration and the island’s bankruptcy process.
One of the few well-known openly gay rappers in Puerto Rico has become a victim of intensifying violence on the island. Kevin Fret, a 24-year-old musician and outspoken advocate for the LGBT community, was murdered early Thursday morning in Santurce, one of San Juan’s busiest and most densely populated neighborhoods, according to El Vocero, one of the largest newspapers in Puerto Rico. According to police, the murder is the 22nd homicide in Puerto Rico in 2019.
A study published on Tuesday in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the death toll in Puerto Rico is more than 4,600 ‘excess deaths’ in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria despite the official death count of 64. The study calls the Puerto Rican government’s number a ‘substantial underestimate’ of Hurricane Maria’s death toll.
Puerto Rico officials announced that the death toll following Hurricane Maria which struck the island in September 2017 reached 2,975. Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rossello ‘accepted’ the results of an independent investigation which are nearly 50 times the previous estimate of 64. The death toll is an approximation, not a definitive list of names.
Puerto Rico is back in darkness after an electrical accident on Wednesday left nearly the entire island without electricity. The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority had previously said that seven months after Hurricane Maria, less than 3% of customers were without power. It was announced that the blackout could last from 24 to 36 hours.
United States President, Donald Trump, visited Puerto Rico, Tuesday, touring the territory, participating in official briefings, and meeting with victims of Hurricane Maria’s damage. Trump took a critical tone by claiming that Puerto Rico had ‘thrown our budget a little out of whack,’ referring to federal help provided to the US territory.
Yesterday, the Trump Administration stepped up the level of its assistance to Puerto Rico, appointing a three-star general to help in the effort to give the island all of the help and support it needs. Also, a century-old shipping law called Jones Act was also temporarily waived by the Administration removing a major hurdle in the way of delivering humanitarian aid to the island.
The US island territory of Puerto Rico has voted in favor in becoming the 51st state on Sunday. In a vote that showed only 23% of eligible voters participating, 97% were in favor for the possible statehood. In a statement made by Governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rosello said, “from today going forward, the Federal government will no longer be able to ignore the voice of the majority of the American citizens in Puerto Rico.”
With 95% of the Island still without power, the row between the local and the federal governments intensified with President Trump tweeting on Sunday morning calling the local authorities “politically motivated ingrates.” In response, the San Juan mayor, Yulín Cruz fired back on Trump who is scheduled to visit the island tomorrow. As of yesterday, nearly 65% gas stations, 11% of cell phone towers and 49% of supermarkets were open, but more than half of Puerto Rico is without water service.