Over the past four days, thousands have taken to the streets of Puerto Rico’s capital city, San Juan, to call for the resignation of Governor Ricardo Rosselló. Police in riot gear have responded by launching volleys of tear gas to attempt to disperse the crowds, and with the use of pepper spray. The protests follow a leak of at least 889 pages of private chats in which Rosselló made sexist and homophobic comments about a range of Puerto Rican and American politicians, journalists and celebrities, including Puerto Rican singer Ricky Martin. Rosselló also faces rising discontent over his management of Puerto Rico’s infrastructure both before and after Hurricane María, and the arrests of two of his former officials by the FBI on corruption charges. Rosselló has released a statement apologizing for the comments and announcing the dismissals of government officials that participated in the chats with him but has not offered to resign himself, instead saying, “I recognise there is no other way out and there is no worthwhile forgiveness on my part that does not include corrections and clear signs of intent to change."
With us to discuss the protests and some of the reasons behind them is Professor of Anthropology and Puerto Rican Studies at the City University of New York Yarimar Bonilla. Her forthcoming book from Haymarket Press is "Aftershocks of Disaster."