- As protests continued into the night on Tuesday, word spread outside the governor’s mansion that Governor Ricardo Rosselló would resign in the next 48 hours
- Protests have been going on for over a week following almost 900 pages of messages between Rosselló and top officials were leaked
- Days before the leak, Julia Keleher, Puerto Rico’s former education secretary, Ángela Ávila-Marrero, former Puerto Rico Health Insurance Administration were federally indicted for stealing over $15 million with four other people
- On Sunday Rosselló announced he would not be running for reelection in 2020
- On Tuesday, Rosselló’s Chief of Staff, Ricardo Llerandi Cruz submitted his resignation
- It was confirmed on Tuesday that warrants have been issued for Rosselló and 11 aides related to chatgate
In La Fortaleza, Puerto Rico, unconfirmed reports have spread outside the governor’s mansion that Governor Ricardo Rosselló will be resigning in the next 48 hours. The possibility of his resignation follows heavy protests in the streets for over a week and corruption from his top officials finally boiling over.
Chatgate And Rickyleaks
Residents of Puerto Rico have been fed up with what many call a thieving government long before the recent protests. The final straw came after nearly 900 pages of messages from the Telegram app between Rosselló and his inner circle were leaked. The leak has been dubbed both “Chatgate” and “Rickyleaks.” The messages are sexist, homophobic, vulgar and targeted both political opponents and Puerto Ricans.
In one part of the chat, Rosselló referred to then-New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito as the Spanish word for “whore.” He went on to suggest she should be “beat up.” Mark-Viverito is from Puerto Rico. Another female New York politician was referred to as a “daughter of a bitch.” Puerto Rican singer Ricky Martin was targeted with homophobic slurs by Christian Sobrino Vega, Puerto Rico’s then-chief fiscal officer. “Ricky Martin is such a male chauvinist that he fucks men because women don’t measure up. Pure patriarchy,” Vega wrote. In reference to San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, Vega wrote “I am salivating to shoot her.” Rosselló responded with, “You’d be doing me a grand favor.”
Our people should come out and defend Tom and beat up that whore.Governor Ricardo Rosselló On Melissa Mark-Viverito
Federal Oversight Board And Hurricane Maria
In regards to the federal oversight board that has controlled Puerto Rico’s finances since 2016, in English Rosselló wrote, “go fuck yourself.” He then followed that message with a string of middle finger emojis. In another chat, Vega was asked about the budget for forensic pathologists. He responded, “Now that we are on the subject, don’t we have some cadavers to feed our crows?” Vega was referencing the growing piles of bodies at the morgue during the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in 2017.
Julia Keleher And Ángela Ávila-Marrero Federal Indictment
Just days before the Telegram messages were leaked, two of Puerto Rico’s top officials and four others were arrested by the FBI. The 44-page indictment listed 32 counts which included money laundering and wire fraud. Those on the indictment included Julia Keleher, Puerto Rico’s former education secretary, Ángela Ávila-Marrero, who formerly led the Puerto Rico Health Insurance Administration; Glenda Ponce-Mendoza, who worked as Keleher’s special assistant, and her sister, Mayra Ponce-Mendoza, who owned the company Colón & Ponce; Alberto Velázquez-Piñol, owner of the company Azur, LLC, a subcontractor; and Fernando Scherrer-Caillet, managing partner of the prominent accounting firm BDO.
All six are said to have conspired together to illegally direct more $15 million in federal funds through organizations they had personal ties with. U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez said Keleher and Ávila-Marrero “exploited their government positions and fraudulently awarded contracts funded with federal monies.” Rodríguez-Vélez said the public corruption was only helping to “erode” the trust between residents of Puerto Rico and the government.
Public corruption continues to erode the trust between government officials and our citizens. Defendants Keleher and Ávila-Marrero exploited their government positions and fraudulently awarded contracts funded with federal monies.
The charged offenses are reprehensible, more so in light of Puerto Rico’s fiscal crisis.U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez
Ricardo Rosselló Announces He Will Not Run In 2020
On Sunday, Rosselló announced he would not be running for reelection in 2020. Rosselló also announced his resignation as president of the New Progressive Party. On Facebook live a Rosselló said, “A huge portion of the population is unhappy and I recognize it.” He went on to say “I love the island and people.” Rosselló is only two and a half years into his four year term. On Sunday, Rosselló did not say he was resigning, despite demands for him and other top officials to do just that.
Rosselló’s Chief of Staff Ricardo Llerandi Cruz Resigns
On Tuesday, news broke that Rosselló’s Chief of Staff, Ricardo Llerandi Cruz, had submitted his resignation which is effective July 31. “The last few days have been extremely difficult for everyone. At this historical juncture it is up to me to take the welfare of my family into consideration. The threats we’ve received can be tolerated as an individual, but I will never allow them to affect my home,” Cruz wrote in an excerpt of the letter published by CNN.
Search Warrants Issued Against Rosselló And Other Aides
To make matters worse, on Tuesday, Puerto Rico’s Department of Justice confirmed to Fox News that search warrants were issued against Rosselló and 11 of his aides. The investigation is said to explore whether or not there were any criminal or ethical crimes committed by those who participated in chatgate. Territorial Justice Department spokesman Kelvin Carrasco told the Associated Press the warrants were issued overnight for those who did not yet turn over their phones. Carrasco did not mention the names of any officials as the investigation is ongoing.
I can confirm search warrants have been issued. This is an ongoing investigation and we can’t comment further.Mariana Cobián Press Director For Justice Department Puerto Rico Via Fox News