Demonstrations against Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló turned violent again overnight, as thousands took to the streets calling for his resignation.
Backlash is intensifying over a profane and derogatory group chat that targeted people critical of his administration. And while protesters marched through San Juan last night, the investigative group that leaked the messages alleged that there’s a multi-billion dollar corruption scandal behind the chats.
On the street outside the governor’s mansion, thousands of demonstrators clashed with riot police. At least one protester lit a Molotov cocktail.
When fireworks went off behind the police barricade, officers decided to go on the offensive, firing tear gas and pushing the crowd to disperse them. It’s unclear who set off the fireworks.
Rosselló insists he has no plans to leave his role. But demonstrators say they’re not going anywhere, either: earlier in the day, more than 75,000 protesters marched near the Capitol.
“We are so, so pissed with the government,” demonstrator Carmen Ponet told “CBS This Morning” lead national correspondent David Begnaud.
Puerto Rican celebrities flew to the island to lead the rally, including actor Benicio del Toro and singer Ricky Martin, who is one of the people targeted in the governor’s group chat.
“We’re tired of cynicism. They put down women, they put down the LGBT community, people with disabilities. Corruption. It is insane…” Martin said. “It’s pretty much barbaric what he’s doing. We’re tired. And we’re angry.”
As they marched, news broke from the island’s Center for Investigative Journalism, the group which published the leaked conversations on Saturday. Their new report alleges a multi-billion dollar corruption network is behind the group chat, where public funds were used to influence and benefit private clients and the Puerto Rican government. It also claims Rosselló knew — and did nothing to stop it.
This came as no surprise to Puerto Ricans who have long criticized Rosselló’s handling of Hurricane Maria, and the bankrupt island’s recovery from the worst financial crisis in its history.
“This is just an example of what is happening,” said demonstrator Ileana Rivera. “The difference now is that we know because of that chat. That’s why we are here… now we know…how they work and how they use our money.”
The governor’s office said in a statement that Rosselló has handed over any evidence he has of corruption to the proper authorities. Puerto Rico’s Department of Justice has ordered all 12 people involved in the leaked chat, including Rosselló, to deliver their cell phones for inspection over the next few days.Beijing’s plans for Hong Kong rule the use of force