Thousands of protestors were met with tear gas and rubber bullets, the New York Times reported, as they flooded the streets in San Juan, Puerto Rico on Wednesday night demanding that Gov. Ricardo Rosselló step down.
The protestors — including Ricky Martin, Bad Bunny, and Residente — made their way to Rosselló’s official residence holding signs and chanting. According to CNN, Bad Bunny held a sign calling for Rosselló’s resignation and Residente told the crowd: “This government has to begin respecting the people. We can't stop protesting.”
Once the protestors made their way to the governor’s residence, they were met with barricades set up by police in riot gear and, eventually, the police hit them with rubber bullets and tear gas, the Times reported. Wednesday’s protest marked the fifth straight day of action from demonstrators demanding that the governor step down after years of frustration with the government’s scandals and mismanagement. On July 13, the frustration came to a head when nearly 900 pages of profoundly homophobic and misogynistic messages between Rosselló and his inner circle were obtained and published by Puerto Rico's Center for Investigative Journalism. In response, Puerto Rican citizens began calling for him to step down. The governor refused, and the protests began.
“He needs to know that no one in Puerto Rico wants him,” one protester yelled to the crowd on Wednesday, according to CNN.
The protests were matched across the country, with demonstrators flooding streets in Miami, Orlando, and New York City chanting: “Viva Puerto Rico libre,” which translates to “Long live free Puerto Rico,” the Associated Press reported. Lin-Manuel Miranda, who attended the march in New York City, told the AP that after years of corruption, these latest leaked messages are “the last straw and Puerto Ricans are standing up against it.”
“I'm so numb from politics in America,” Miranda told CNN. “But the people of Puerto Rico are numb and they are waking us all up. I'm going to have their backs.”
The governor does not appear to be as moved by the people of Puerto Rico as Miranda is, though. He has consistently stated that he will not step down, a stance he repeated on Tuesday, moments after the police force fired tear gas into a crowd of protestors. “I have not committed any illegal or corrupt acts,” he announced, according to CNN. “I committed inappropriate acts and have expressed regret for that.”
Rosselló may not be stepping down any time soon, but his his political goals — including pushing for statehood for the U.S. commonwealth — will likely be put on hold after Puerto Rico's Justice Department issued summonses for everyone involved in the message scandal with the governor, according to the New York Times. All 11 people, including Rosselló himself along with his aides and Cabinet members, have been ordered to appear before department officials, a department official Mariana Cobian told CNN.
“I have never seen or heard of a transparent government,” Vanessa Ruiz, a teacher in Puerto Rico told the New York Times. She was at the protests on the island on Wednesday — it was her first protest ever. “I haven’t lived under a government that hasn’t been corrupt. This is why we came.”