SAN JUAN – One day after the demonstrators forced Governor Ricky Rosselló to resign, they were back in La Fortaleza, the governor's mansion, to celebrate. But their joy is already turning to anger and the decision to demand an honest government. For many on this island, the political crisis is far from over.
The drama began when the Center for Investigative Journalism in Puerto Rico published 900 pages of profane, homophobic and misogynist messages between Rosselló and his best helpers. They hated other politicians and the media and mocked even those who had died or suffered under Hurricane Maria in 2017. Corruption allegations also sparked passions. On Thursday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced that it would further restrict Puerto Rico's access to government aid, as it was alleged irregularities associated with Maria money La Fortaleza, most waving with Puerto Rican flags. Many wore newly outdated "# RickyRenuncio" tees ("Ricky, Resign").
They drank beer in open containers and carried children on their shoulders. They loudly and passionately sang Rafael Hernández Marin's Preciosa, a national ode to Puerto Rico's beauty. The song is about "freedom too," a man tells me before retiring to the crowd.
But the street signs betray the continuing dissatisfaction. Someone pasted the sign "Calle del Cristo", which points directly to La Fortaleza and renamed it "Calle del Corrupto" ̵
Vázquez has been the Island's Justice Minister since 2017 – the equivalent of an Attorney-General – and she's ready to become Rosselló's successor. In Puerto Rico's constitution, the governorship would normally stand alongside the Secretary of State, but this position is currently vacant as Luis Rivera Marin also resigned after his own lewd remarks were released. They exchange one corrupt leader for another. Like Rosselló, Vázquez is a member of the New Progressive Party, and she is also his political representative. She also faces corruption charges. Puerto Rico's government ethics bureau said it was investigating possible ethical violations.
After a complaint was filed against her, she was already prosecuted – although one judge found the evidence inadequate and Rosselló reintroduced it.
Vázquez's critics also accuse her of not opening corruption tests of members of her own party.
The fact is that corruption has hit Puerto Rico for years. Rosselló's father Pedro, who served as governor from 1993 to 2001, had his own share in the scandal: 33 members of his administration were charged with kickback.
But Rosselló's contempt for his constituents was the last straw. It was the main catalyst for change, former Gov. Luis Fortuño told me.
"People think that there is too much Cronyism, even if people are not charged, too many government contracts, no government procedures," says Fortuño. "What really brought the camel here was the feeling that they were taken along … They are not only disgusted but also lied to."
The Puerto Ricans are now demanding a cleaner, more functional and accountable government to turn to social media is a new slogan: "Generación del yo no me dejo" – "generation of" I will not let you do that to me. "
The 900 pages" opened our eyes Says the 32-year-old Katarina Cruz, a shop assistant. "We could not let it happen. , , I can not accept that they are laughing at our dead. "Pretty much everyone I interview swears that they will not stop until they've displaced every politician they think is corrupt." "We're still in Pampers," says Carla Miro, a 36-year veterinary technician "The [speaking out and protesting] is new for us.But … we need to carry on, we have to show [the politicians] that" we do not work for you, you work for us. "
Puerto Rico's current political movement started against Rosselló and others like him, but those I've talked to can not name a single politician they'd like to use in La Fortaleza, they'll be happy only when the house is clean.
In the meantime, Calle is del Corrupto full of demonstrators.
Elisha Maldonado is a member of the Editorial Board of the Post.