After two straight weeks of protests, Puerto Ricans force governor to resign

Protesters rejoicing in the rain on July 22 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Image widely circulated on social media and taken from the Twitter account of social worker Larry Emil Alicea-Rodríguez.

Protesters rejoicing in the rain on July 22 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Photograph taken by Fabián Rodríguez Torres and shared on his Instagram account (@fabianfrt). The author published a Facebook post in which he grants permission to the general public to use the picture, which was widely circulated on social media. This particular image was taken from the Twitter account of social worker Larry Emil Alicea-Rodríguez (@larryemil).

The governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rosselló, has resigned after two weeks of massive protests and intergenerational civil unrest. In the abscence of a secretary of state, Secretary of Justice Wanda Vázquez will become governor. Rosselló's resignation is effective as of 5:00 p. m. on August 2.

This self-convened and growing national movement erupted as a result of an intricate corruption scheme and a leaked Telegram chat containing sexist, misogynistic, homophobic and body-shaming language, along with the discussion of public policy among members and non-members of Rosselló's cabinet.

The leaked Telegram chat was preceded by the federal arrests of high ranking members of Rosselló's administration, including the former Secretary of Education, Julia Keleher, on charges which include money laundering, wire fraud and theft, among others.

The 14 consecutive days of demonstrations included daily protests at the governor’s mansion. The protests soon spread to many other municipalities of Puerto Rico. The largest was held on July 22, estimated to have attracted as many as 600,000 people in San Juan alone.

But the activity wasn't limited to Puerto Rico. Several protests were convened in countries where Puerto Ricans are resident, including Spain, Argentina, Slovenia, France, The Netherlands and the United States.

The protests also included cultural and artistic interventions. Journalist Victoria Leandra created a Twitter thread that highlights some of the creative ways Puerto Ricans found to protest:

The police have been accused of using excessive force, violating the police reforms ordered by Federal Courts. It must be said that the protests in Puerto Rico have been exceptionally peaceful, as pointed out by cultural anthropologist and essayist Rima Brusi on Twitter:

Protesters also returned the following day to areas where protests were held to help clean up:

But several days before the news broke of Rosselló's resignation, Xiomara Torres Rivera, a columnist writing for the jounalism project Todas, reminded readers that the real work would start once the governor left office:

Hoy somos foco de atención porque nos atrevimos a accionar la palabra, a transformar nuestros disgustos en movilidad. La exigencia de renuncia es solo el principio. Nos queda un camino largo de reflexión para tomar otras decisiones y no mirar atrás. Para atrevernos a exigir el país que nos merecemos. Una auditoría ciudadana, una cancelación de la deuda, una educación con perspectiva de género, un sistema de salud y retiro digno y un esquema de gobierno con personas que pongan las necesidades de la gente primero. Se nos va la vida y no estamos dispuestas a perder una más.

Today we are the focus of the world's attention because we dared to turn words into action, to transform our anger into mobility. To demand [the governor's] resignation is only the beginning. We have before us a lot of reflecting to do to be able to take other decisions and not look back. To dare to demand the country that we deserve. A citizen audit, a cancellation of the [public] debt, an education with gender perspective, decent healthcare and retirement and a government with individuals who put the needs of the people first.

Global Voices will continue to cover this developing story.

Ana Portnoy contributed to this post.

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