Calls intensify for Puerto Rican governor’s resignation following leaked private chats
Puerto Rico’s embattled Gov. Ricardo Rosselló is rejecting calls to step down after the leaks of hundreds of derisive and offensive private chat messages between him and members of his inner circle.
Protesters took to the streets in recent days after nearly 900 pages from the messaging app Telegram were published by Puerto Rico’s Center for Investigative Journalism.
The governor and 11 top aides and Cabinet members exchanged profanity-laced, homophobic and misogynistic messages about fellow politicians, members of the media, celebrities and others in a scandal many are calling “RickyLeaks.” The messages were sent in December 2018 and January 2019.
“I will continue my work and my responsibility to the people of Puerto Rico,” the governor told reporters Tuesday.
The scandal has already led to the resignations of two members of Rosselló’s Cabinet.
Here are some targets of the offending exchanges.
Former New York City Council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito
Rosselló apologized last week after the leak of a chat message in which he referred to Melissa Mark-Viverito, the Puerto Rico-born former speaker of the New York City Council, using the Spanish word for “whore.”
The governor wrote that he was upset Mark-Viverito had criticized Tom Perez, chair of the Democratic National Committee, for backing statehood for Puerto Rico.
“Our people should come out and defend Tom and beat up that whore,” Rosselló wrote.
Mark-Viverito traveled to the island to join protesters in their calls for the governor to resign.
“A person who uses that language against a woman, whether a public figure or not, should not govern Puerto Rico …this type of behavior is completely unacceptable,” she wrote on Twitter.
San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz
San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz is frequent critic of the governor.
In the chat, Christian Sobrino Vega — who was Puerto Rico’s chief fiscal officer at the time, and Roselló’s representative on the federal board responsible for managing Puerto Rico’s financial crisis — expressed frustration with Yulín Cruz.
“I am salivating to shoot her,” he wrote.
“You’d be doing me a grand favor,” the governor responded, according to the leaked chats.
At one point, the governor writes that Yulín Cruz must be “off her meds” by deciding to run against him.
“Either that, or she’s a tremendous HP,” he said, using the Spanish acronym for “son/daughter of a bitch.”
Yulín Cruz belongs to the opposition Popular Democratic Party and is running for governor.
Sobrino Vega and Secretary of State Luis Rivera Marin, who also participated in the chats, have both resigned.
Puerto Rican singer Ricky Martin
In the chats, Sobrino Vega made vulgar references to Puerto Rican star Ricky Martin’s sexuality.
“Nothing says patriarchal oppression like Ricky Martin,” he wrote.
“Ricky Martin is such a male chauvinist that he f—- men because women don’t measure up. Pure patriarchy.”
Martin and other artists on the island took to social media to condemn Rossello’s government and call for his resignation.
The Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico
Referring to the federal oversight board that has controlled the US territory’s finances since 2016, Rossello wrote in English, “go f— yourself,” followed by a string of middle finger emojis.
A shortage of pathologists at a government forensic agency
Sobrino Vega, the former chief financial officer, in one chat was asked about the budget for forensic pathologists.
He responded with joke about the growing piles of dead bodies at the morgue in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in September 2017.
“Now that we are on the subject, don’t we have some cadavers to feed our crows?” he wrote in an apparent reference to government critics.
“Clearly they need attention.”