“Donde esta Ricky?
Ricky no esta aquí.
Ricky esta vendiendo lo que queda del pais”
Ricky’s not here
Ricky is selling what is left of the country.
— Crowd’s chant throughout the streets of #OldSanJuan on the first day of the protests
DISCLAIMER: Before you read this, it is important you know that what I set forth below is not about politics but about dignity. I am a proud Puerto Rican. Along with 95% of the people of Puerto Rico, I treasure my American citizenship. It is the indignation common to everyone in Puerto Rico that fostered my desire to communicate the passion behind our protests.
Many of you be aware of the ongoing chaos in Puerto Rico on the recent days. Most of the population is demanding that governor Ricardo Rosselló (“Ricky”) step down.
While Ricky was democratically elected, corruption scandals, evidence of the sheer incompetence, the arrogance of his team, and revelations about his character triggered the mobilization of people to the streets demanding that he step down.
Most of us Puerto Ricans feel very proud of the historic moment we are witnessing.
For decades, corruption has permeated all echelons of government. People were jaded, accepting a reality they could not fight against. Puerto Rico had earned a reputation of having corrupt politicians. The people felt we had no way out as both parties were infested with bad apples.
Then, on July 13th, 2019, a 900-page, 6-week Telegram text message exchange between governor Ricardo Rossello and 11 other men that were either cabinet members or advisors was leaked to the press. http://periodismoinvestigativo.com/2019/07/las-889-paginas-de-telegram-entre-rossello-nevares-y-sus-allegados/
The attorney for the person that presumably leaked the chat has stated that the six weeks released are incomplete transcripts of a chat that went on for 2 years and 8 months.
The information that emerged from the chat triggered a level of outrage that motivated people from all political creeds, social backgrounds and beliefs to take to the streets and demand Ricky’s resignation.
In light of the revelation contained in the governor’s chats, we have all joined forces in a plethora of colorful marches to denounce corruption, homophobia, hypocrisy, misogyny, malicious persecution of adversaries, nefarious administrative policies that caused suffering, and detestable character traits. In light of his lack of moral character and professional judgment to govern, the people of Puerto Rico have demanded he quit.
During the past week, the protests have not ceased. Every day, more people and personalities join the cause. Puerto Ricans all over the globe are marching demanding “Ricky Renuncia!” (Ricky Resign!).
The protests have been as picturesque as they get. A Miami journalist, Victoria Leandra (@leandrareports) has made a great thread compiling the unique protests Puerto Ricans have come up with to demand that Ricky resign. Every day it grows as people continue to come up with creative ways to make Ricky understand everyone wants him out.
The hastag #RickyRenuncia did not stop trending until the Marvel ones took over despite the fact we have not stopped tweeting day and night(?).
From conventional walking marches of citizens chanting slogans to protesters in motorcycles and horses to parachutes, the enthusiasm has not diminished. On the contrary, every day that Ricky refuses to leave the governor’s position, more politicians, artists, public figures, media outlets, and members of the international community join in to pressure him to listen to the people’s will.
For the first week, media outlets except CBS in the United States ignored the controversy. Only CBS’ journalist David Begnaud covered it from the onset.
Unfortunately, no important United States politician voiced any support for the movement except the President. He ratified the corruption of the government of Puerto Rico tweeting that it was “under siege”.
As protests continued and other media outlets decided to start covering the controversy, they did so as if it boiled down to a spat stemming from a chat. While the chat was the trigger that detonated the anger of the people, that was not the cause. It revealed the pattern of corruption, persecution, discrimination, inability to steer the government in the right direction, disregard for the interests of the needy. The genuine indignation that runs through the blood of Puerto Ricans and fuels our unique protests stems from their realization that the government was run by a group of spoiled, selfish millennials that were completely disconnected from the reality and of the people whose lives they controlled.
The current administration had been plagued since the onset with accusations of rampant corruption. Its protagonists were so arrogant, that their pay-for-play behavior became a blatant catch-me-if-you-can practice.
The contents of the 900-page chat opened Pandora’s box.
What offended me the most has to do with Ricky’s inability to understand the importance of the responsibility of his position.
Puerto Rico is engulfed in a $90 billion debt. In 2016, Congress passed the PROMESA law to deal with Puerto Rico’s bankruptcy. The law provided for the appointment of a Fiscal Oversight and Management Board to assist the government reorganize, pay the debt and get back on its feet. All Creditors must be paid. From the vulture investors to the retirees that put their life savings in Puerto Rico bonds.
The government must continue to operate.
Puerto Ricans have a per capita income half of that of Mississippi, the poorest state of the nation, but an extremely high cost of living, with an 11.5% sales tax and tariffs imposed on every imaginable item and service of everyday life.
The Fiscal Oversight Board that has been extremely lenient with Ricky’s administration given the difficulties that arose as a result of the hurricane.
The chat revealed how Ricky’s obsession was that of consistently spending government funds to boost his image.
He has consistently denied creditors and citizens access to information, insisting to negotiate other people’s interests behind closed doors.
His multiple expressions in the chat demonstrate that he has never taken seriously the fiscal responsibility of lifting Puerto Rico from its financial crisis. Instead of working with the FOMB, he fostered litigation.
The government’s negotiations with the FOMB came to a standstill forcing the latter to sue him because he acted like a spoiled brat, boycotting all possibilities of good-faith negotiations.
A reasonable mind can conclude that the only interests he has in mind are those of his collaborators. There are two kind that come to mind.
Those who own law firms and litigate every minutia under the law, delay the resolution of the bankruptcy and bill obscene amounts of money that a bankrupt people pay.
Billions of dollars have been deposited in private banks. In spite of a Puerto Rico that law that specifically provides that any public funds deposited in private banks must generate interest for the government, Ricky’s representatives executed contracts with the largest bank in Puerto Rico providing that the deposited funds will “not generate interest”.
At least not for Puerto Rico, that is.
In this context of public information, the most telling evidence of the child-governor’s sheer incompetence that offended all of my being is when he wrote:
[My authorized expressions]
Aside from his arrogance and incompetence, the sample of the chat released to the public demonstrates a display of Ricky’s posse of a full spectrum of prejudices. They were pretty thorough: racism, sexism, homophobia, gender, religion, political, social, physical appearance, mental stability and origin discrimination.
Among the pearls in the chat are the exchanges that have to do with the gang’s treatment of women.
They casually referred to women as whores, as in the case of a well-known New York politician.
While discussing a news report by an attractive journalist, the governor digressed to mention in vulgar terms the sexual act he would like to perform on her.
They demeaned their opponents in a myriad of ways. They used mental illness, undisclosed homosexuality, obesity and overall physical appearance to invalidate their postures.
One of the most despised characters that participated in the chat expressed that an is “the patriarch of machismo” who preferred to have sex with men instead of women because of his sexism. Being the closest collaborator to Ricky, he is expected to be arrested any time soon and inspired the hashtag #ArrestenAEliasSanchez.
The boys joked about a female senator winning a contest in a strip club that was shut down in the 90’s.
They made fun of an experienced, respected journalist as a cocaine addict stuck in a “back trip” since 1976.
The hooligans were not shy about their proclivity to “mark”, maliciously troll and/or mock adversaries through social media. Particularly if the adversaries were journalists.
Many wonder if the criminal conviction of the director of the Statistics Institute of Puerto Rico for alleged domestic violence was really the result of a malicious prosecution orchestrated by them.
The chat revealed how every day the team’s efforts were geared at the promotion of Ricky’s image — engaging the use of public funds for the ‘government’ public relations agency with millions of dollars in contracts as well as the time of the public officials dedicated to those endeavors.
Showing no qualms about making fun of the dead or the poor, they joked about a horse perishing at the side of a road or joked about feeding to the crows a corpse piled up at the morgue.
A recurring theme in the chat was the ridiculing of large or unattractive persons by including cutouts of unflattering photographs of them.
Not to be facetitious, but none of them looked like Daniel Craig or Christian Bale. Most of them were on the obese range. The hapless governor has a strange face that looks like Eddie Munster, he’s short and his voice sounds like that of a 12-year old girl.
YES, THESE MEN ARE HORRIBLE PEOPLE.
People across all ages and party lines demanded that the governor resign.
Ricky was a baptized Catholic from an upscale neighborhood in the suburbs of Guaynabo. After the chats were leaked, one of his legal advisors tried to get dozens of churches to provide him a stage from where he could broadcast his repentance. Only a humble Pentecostal church in Carolina acquiesced.
Four days later, the governor asked for forgiveness from a pulpit filled with members of the congregation that he had never been to. They placed his hands on him, repeating the pastor’s prayers.
Psychiatrist Jose Fransechini Carlo evaluated the transcript of the chat. He concluded that “a governor with all those prejudices cannot govern a place where people strive for equality regardless of their gender, religion, race, sexual preference, political affiliation, appearance and others. A leader that has demonstrated the opposite, having so many prejudices, it’s impossible.”
Insisting in the how genuine his insincere apology was, the public agreed that he had apologized only because he had been caught. The justification for his behavior was that he used the chat as a “mechanism to vent his stress” after work hours. The chat records showed conversations started as early as 6:00 am until the late hours of the night.
Eleven days have elapsed since the protests began. The Governor has been hiding for the past three days. He insists that he will not resign. Reiterating that “the people elected him”, he discards the option of quitting and intends to conclude his term. He pretends to carry on ‘business as usual.”
What he does not realize is that those that voted for him now realize that he pretended to be something other than the immature, mediocre, horrible human being he is.
Neither I nor the people of Puerto Rico believe that Governor Rossello’s apology or act of contrition are sincere not that the damage can be repaired. No one believes he is capable of governing Puerto Rico.
We insist that Ricky step down. It is not only about the chat.
It is about the:
For decades, Puerto Rico has been the victim of widespread corruption. Both major political parties have been equally guilty of that objectionable practice. We rely on the Federal Government –FBI, Assistant US District Attorney’s Office, US District Court- for significant corruption cases to be prosecuted.
Unbridled corruption within the current government had been rumored since its onset. Rumors became mainstream because its protagonists were no longer shy about it. After the hurricane, it became “in your face”.
Many of the governor’s close advisors have been subpoenaed to testify to the Grand Jury.
It is rumored that the Southern District of New York convened a Grand Jury to investigate a corruption scheme involving the governor’s closest collaborator and former campaign manager. That indictment has not produced arrests yet but it is widely known that government officials had uncharacteristically frequently had to travel to NYC. Just last month on my way to New York City, I saw the presumed target of the investigation and four other high government officials boarding or arriving in the nonstop flight to JFK. Too many to be a coincidence.
Last week, two of his most important cabinet members were arrested by the FBI for fraud and money laundering. They had renounced their positions some time ago when they had found out that the FBI was investigating them.
One of the persons recently indicted is Julia Keleher, governor Rossello’s former Secretary of Education who closed over 400 schools in the island. She was charged with fraud, money laundering and a host of other charges in a federal indictment where the former director of the Health Insurance Administration and other parties that conspired in the scheme were also accused.
One of her main advisors on the restructuring of schools was the governor’s brother who works in a law firm in DC and had contracts with her agency.
Keleher’s other close advisor on contracts was governor Rossello’s closest friend and former campaign manager, Elias Sánchez.
It has been rumored for weeks that the FBI is to arrest Elias Sanchez any moment now. On the day of the massive protest in Old San Juan on July 17th, an investigative report stated that he would charge 25% of the total contract amount he obtained from the government for any of his clients. The Centro de Periodismo Investigativo article asserts that the governor knew all along.
Another recent corruption case that paved the way to the situation Ricky is today was the arrest that took place a week before Keleher’s Indictment.
The director of the Department of the Family was charged with bribery for accepting money from a contractor. She renounced as director of the agency, but was reinstated in her job to her prior position within the agency.
The governor’s wife, Beatriz has also been implicated in dishonest maneuvers. She has been associated with the withholding of withheld humanitarian aid sent for the hurricane victims so that she would have sufficient time to make appearances giving it all away for photo opportunities.
IN FACT, THE PERSON THAT IS BELIEVED TO HAVE RELEASED THE CHAT HAD A FALLING APART WITH ROSSELLO WHEN HE REFUSED TO CHANGE A REPORT THAT CONCLUDED THAT BEATRIZ HAD BEEN RESPONSIBLE FOR THE MISMANAGEMENT OF THE HURRICANE RELIEF FUNDS UNDER THE CONTROL OF “UNIDOS POR PUERTO RICO.
It is becoming clear now that Ricky and Beatriz were the ones mainly to blame for the excessive hurricane deaths and delaying the recovery of electricity that took 6+months. That is why many people in the protests carry posters that blame him for the 4645 hurricane deaths.
As you can see, the people’s ire goes beyond Ricky and his buddies’ immaturity, crassness, cruelty, mediocrity, arrogance, and cronyism. People are fed up of the rampant corruption he has come to represent. By the time the chat was leaked, people had had enough. And apparently there’s still more to come…
I am proud of the hundreds of thousands of people of all backgrounds and political creeds that have come out to demand #RICKYRENUNCIA!
Within a matter of 1–2 days, Residente produced a song with Bad Bunny to serve as the official battle hymn.
“We are sharp, like knives
Sparkling up to the edge
Weed must be removed from the plantation
So that none of them take advantage of what is mine.”
Despite the song’s call to violence that I do not condone or even agree with, the truths contained in its verses moved me.
The protests have been, for the most part, peaceful. Masses of people sing songs in front of La Fortaleza — the governor’s mansion — until the late hours of the night. Protesters within the crowd act as peacekeepers making sure no one gets out of hand.
MOST OF THE POPULATION regardless of their political party and those from Rossello’s statehood New Progressive Party– want him to leave. He has demonstrated to have no moral character aside from being mediocre verging on plain incompetent in the context of his role as governor.
A web page with information regarding the controversy and grounds to demand Ricky’s resignation is already online. You can access it at
Be mindful that this movement is not about independence for Puerto Rico. Rather, it is a protest demanding respect. Demanding an honest government. Demanding accountability.
FINDING A SOLUTION
I want Rossello to leave immediately. However, I do not want someone less capable than him to fill his shoes.
The Constitution of Puerto Rico provides for a successional order in case that the governor cannot or does not want to serve as such any more.
The Secretary of State is the first in line to substitute the governor.
In the case of Puerto Rico, the Secretary of State quit immediately after the chat came to light. He was part of the chat. Letting governor Rossello appoint a secretary of state to substitute him will be more of the same.
Rossello knows removed to this and he will take forever or might never name one just because he can.
This leaves us with the third choice. Secretary of Justice Wanda Vazquez.
The current Puerto Rico Secretary of Justice does not come across as well-qualified for the position. She was criminally accused of covering up a crime while serving as Secretary of Justice. Although she was acquitted, that event casts doubt over her credentials and honesty.
If Rossello were to leave his position without a designated and confirmed Secretary of State, the Secretary of Justice fills his chair.
The Puerto Rico Legislature has tried to look the other way.
There are 27 senators, 51 representatives and 78 municipalities from both major parties. When the controversy first broke out, the majority that belong to the governor’s pro-statehood party demanded that he resign. Then Rossello met with them.
News reports leaked have alleged that during the meeting the governor had sufficient leverage to curb their righteousness. The messages demonstrated how, to some extent, they were all guilty of the corruption he was being accused of. Turns out that right after the election they all texted him asking for a wide array of political favors and he threatened to disclose them.
As they came out of the meeting, they all unanimously agreed it was appropriate to “give the governor some space.”
Little by little some have timidly demanded his resignation but rely on an impeachment process that will take weeks or months.
The heads of the Senate and House of Representatives are counting on Ricky to quit before they have to begin such endeavors.
My opinion of the best-case scenario?
I do not trust our corrupt political establishment to solve the quagmire we are in.
Only Congress can solve our crisis.
If the people in Congress came to a meeting of the minds with a commitment to solve our crisis, the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution would grant then the authority to implement the ideal solution.
We first need for Congress to warn governor Rossello and the legislature that all federal funding will be withheld unless he quits. And mean it. Without the flow of money, Rossello will voluntarily step down or the legislature will force him out. Strangling the funds will force him out either way.
We then need for Congress to appoint an entirely new set of members to the Financial Oversight Control Board without any prior ties to or relatives in Puerto Rico that inevitably lead to conflicts of interests. Puerto Rico needs to settle all claims with creditors and move on.
The third task we need for Congress to tackle is to appoint a bilingual governor that is a good administrator and has a thorough knowledge of the legal system. This person would serve as governor until the next election in November 2020. A strong character is imperative to control the challenges he or she will face.
The 3 million American citizens living in Puerto Rico urgently ask that the United States’ Congress listen to cry for democracy and help us remove governor Rossello and appoint an honest, determined, intelligent, experienced official that can carry navigate the turbulent waters ahead of us.
Even if Ricky quits, we need for Congress to appoint such a person because the Secretary of State who would be his successor lacks the credentials for it. She is not even fluent in English.
If Governor Rossello continues in office, the marches and protests will not cease. Our frail economy cannot withstand his stubbornness anymore.
A recurrent phrase one of Ricky’s buddies repeated throughout the chat displayed his utter contempt of beloved island.
The people of Puerto Rico elected Ricky thinking he was an honorable person.
Somewhere in the chat, in vulgar slang language Ricky wrote: “We even fool our own people”.
Not for long, you did not.
“You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”
— Attributed to Abraham Lincoln