Ricardo Rossello, the governor of Puerto Rico, resigned late Wednesday night following weeks of intense protests in the country, despite many vows that he would stay in office until January, 2021, according to the BBC.
The embattled leader has faced intense pressure from protesters and politicians to step down after the leak of nearly 900 pages of group chats that showed conversations between the governor and his top aides.
The offending text messages were obtained by the Puerto Rico Center for Investigative Journalism. Among the messages, Rossello and aides allegedly used homophobic slurs when discussing Puerto Rican singer Ricky Martin. The texts also said that San Juan Mayor, Carmen Yulin Cruz, was “off her meds,” and that Rossello was “salivating” to shoot her. They allegedly referred to former New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito as a “whore” after she slammed Democratic National Committee chair, Tom Perez, for supporting statehood for Puerto Rico. The messages also contained jokes about corpses piling up after Hurricane Maria.
Rossello officially made the announcement in a live video on Facebook. He earmarked August 2 as his final day.
“I hope that this decision will serve as a call for citizen reconciliation that we need so much to move forward with the welfare of Puerto Rico as its north,” Rossello said in the video.
What a night.
What a moment.
What a story, for the history books.
Now going to catch some sleep so we can wake up for @CBSThisMorning & tell everyone around the United States what happened in Puerto Rico overnight.
???? : @Baterisma pic.twitter.com/Jk4DouIw1s
— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) July 25, 2019
“I complete my mandate and the most I desire is peace and progress.”
Secretary of Justice Wanda Vazquez will likely become the next governor of Puerto Rico, according to CNN.
“I understand he made the right decision, for the good of both his family and for Puerto Rico, as I let him know,” Vazquez said in a statement. “We will be working together to have a responsible and transparent transition process.”
Vazquez was criticized during the protests for not tackling the problems in Rossello’s administration head on, according to the Boston Globe.
The streets of San Juan have been filled with protesters for the past 11 days, some of which have turned violent. Thousands marched in the streets on Monday culminating in police shooting tear gas into the crowds.
Rossello is the second-youngest governor in Puerto Rican history at 40-years-old.
He was sworn in as governor January 2, 2017 in the middle of a debt crisis and 13 years of recession. His father, Pedro Rossello, was also a former governor of Puerto Rico.
Eight months after being elected, the island was hit by Hurricane Maria which killed approximately 2,975 people, according to CNN. Maria caused destruction across the island, creating more financial difficulties for Puerto Rico.
Rossello’s announcement was met with celebrations on the streets of the capital.
— Ani Ucar (@AniUcar) July 25, 2019