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What Are the Protests in Puerto Rico Really About?

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People take part in a demonstration demanding Governor Ricardo Rossello’s resignation in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on July 17th, 2019.

Chanting “Ricky, renuncia” and holding signs in remembrance of victims of Hurricane Maria, thousands of Puerto Ricans took to the streets on Wednesday, calling for the resignation of Governor Ricardo Rosselló. The demonstrations on the island have been ongoing for five days, following the leaking of hundreds of pages of private chats between the governor and members of his inner circle and an investigation on the unlawful steering of federal funds to politically connected contractors.

The messages made public by the investigative journalism organization Centro de Periodismo Investigativo revealed dismissive jokes about the hurricane death toll and sexist and homophobic comments, which included Rosselló calling former speaker of the New York City Council Melissa Mark-Viverito a “whore” and attacks on Puerto Rican singer and actor Ricky Martin’s sexuality. Martin and other public figures, such as playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda and the singer Bad Bunny, as well as Major League Baseball players and managers, have joined the protests calling for the governor’s resignation, which have also taken place in cities like New York and Arizona.

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