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Puerto Ricans worry about future if embattled governor stays

Published:Wednesday | July 24, 2019 | 12:00 AM
Police arrest a demonstrator during clashes to demand the resignation of Gov. Ricardo Rossello in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Monday, July 22, 2019. Protesters are demanding Gov Ricardo Rossello step down following the leak of an offensive, obscenity-laden online chat between him and his advisers that triggered the crisis.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP):

A Puerto Rico judge has issued search warrants for the cell phones of government officials tied to an online chat that has sparked a political crisis in the US territory that is escalating, officials said yesterday.

Kelvin Carrasco, a spokesman for the island’s Department of Justice, told The Associated Press that the warrants were approved overnight and were issued to those who have not yet turned over their phones.

He did not name the officials and declined further comment because the investigation is ongoing.

The warrants were issued following massive, ongoing protests demanding the ouster of Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, who participated in an offensive, obscenity-laden online chat between him and his advisers whose leak triggered the crisis. The group also insulted women and mocked constituents, including victims of Hurricane Maria.

Protest escalation

The protests have escalated to a point where many wonder how Rosselló will be able to govern the US territory in the coming days and possibly weeks.

Rosselló dug his heels in late Monday after what seems to have been the biggest protest the island has seen in nearly two decades, telling Fox News that he has already apologised and made amends following the leak of the chat.

But many Puerto Ricans vowed to keep protesting until he steps down, no matter how long it takes.

“We can endure anything,” said Francisco Javier Díaz, a 30-year-old chemical engineer from the central mountain town of Corozal. “We have the power and the resilience. And the truth is, we’re fed up.”

Tuesday marked the 11th consecutive day of protests as government officials around Rosselló keep resigning. Even his own father, former Gov Pedro Rosselló, stepped down from positions within the pro-statehood New Progressive Party and disaffiliated himself from it in a blow to party members.

Meanwhile, Ricardo Rosselló said he will not resign, noting that he already announced he would not seek re-election in 2020 and that he has stepped down as president of his party.