Puerto Rico Governor Will Not Run Again, but Strike Goes On

Published: 22 July 2019

Governor Ricardo Rosselló announcing his resignation as New Progressive Party leader on Facebook Live on SundayGovernor Ricardo Rosselló announcing his resignation as New Progressive Party leader on Facebook Live on Sunday

By Samuel Trilling

Trying to defuse public pressure, Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rosselló announced on Sunday that he would not seek re-election and would resign as head of the Puerto Rico New Progressive Party.

However, Puerto Ricans continue to demand his resignation as governor after his incendiary leaked telegram chat and corrupt cabinet members’ arrests. On Monday, protesters blocked a highway as part of a island-wide strike, continuing the protests that started 12 days ago.

Rosselló reiterated that he would not cave, and declared that he would remain governor for the rest of his term.

Rosselló, who took office in 2017, will remain governor until 2021, continuing a trend of one-term Puerto Rican governors that began after his father, Pedro, left office at the turn of the millennium. 

“I’m going to be looking forward to turning over power to the person elected democratically,” he said.

Were Rosselló to change his mind or otherwise be pushed out of power, Puerto Rico’s gubernatorial line of succession calls on the Secretary of State, which is currently vacant following Luis G. Rivera Marín’s resignation in the political fallout of the leaked chat.

Last week Puerto Rico’s Center for Investigative Journalism accused the governor of giving his lobbyist friends - who were in the Telegram chat - special privileges in contract determinations and even the power to appoint or fire members of his government. 

The island has been consumed by constant protests since the chat was published as hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans rallied around evidence of officials’ negligence, contempt, and corruption. Law enforcement responded to protests with tear gas and pepper spray.

An overwhelming number of Puerto Ricans are still upset with the Governor’s decision to stay in office, slamming Rossello with hashtags like #RickyRenuncia, #AbajoRossello, and #TelegramGate while taking part in Monday’s paro nacional (national strike), which caused shopping centers, universities, and even some transit services to shut down.