After days of large protests in San Juan, Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said he will not seek reelection in 2020, but plans to stay in office through the last of his four-year term. Rosselló will also resign as the head of the pro-statehood New Progressive Party, according to CBS News. “I recognize that apologizing is not sufficient,” Rosselló said in a Facebook broadcast that lasted a little under four minutes. “And only my work will help restore the trust of these sectors and embark on a real reconciliation.”
Puerto Ricans on the island as well as in boricuan hubs on the American mainland have protested Rosselló after Puerto Rico’s Center for Investigative Reporting published almost 900 pages of offensive private chat messages between Rosselló and his inner circle. The chats insulted political opponents, women and victims of the Hurricane Maria, which devastated the island in 2017.
One of the comments in the leaked chat logs included calling former New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito a “whore” in Spanish. (“Our people should come out and defend Tom and beat up that whore,” Rosselló wrote, according to CNN’s translation.) Rosselló also wrote that the financial board (established to oversee Puerto Rico’s finances in 2016) should “go f-ck yourself” in English along with middle finger emojis. The leaked chats were sent between December 2018 and January 2019.
Rosselló apologized for the comments on Thursday, according to the New York Post. “I’m the governor of Puerto Rico, but I’m a human being who has his faults,” Rosselló said in a press conference, according to the Post.
Rosselló said at the press conference that he hadn’t talked to Mark-Viverito yet. “None of this justifies the words I’ve written,” Rosselló added. “My apologies to all the people I have offended … This was a private chat.”
But the apologies were not enough for Puerto Ricans. People — from union workers and students as well as reggaeton superstar Bad Bunny and rapper Residente — gathered in San Juan as well as surrounding La Fortaleza (a historic colonial fortress), the governor’s residence. CBS News reported that one demonstration had a crowd between 100,000 and 500,000 people.
The protests weren’t quelled by Rosselló’s apology either. On Sunday, protesters in kayaks “made their case” from the water in front of La Fortaleza, according to USA Today. Another, likely massive, protest is scheduled for Monday on the streets of San Juan, the newspaper reported.