Spokesman Denies Reports of Puerto Rico Governor’s Resignation
By VOA News
A spokesman for Puerto Rico’s embattled governor tamped down rampant media reports that Ricardo Rossello was about to step down after two weeks of massive protests calling for his resignation.
“Gov. Ricardo Rossello Nevares has not resigned,” Anthony Maceira said Wednesday. “As he said yesterday, he is in a process of reflection and listening to the people.”
Maceira said that some media outlets had published “incorrect rumors” and that “whatever decision is taken will be officially communicated, as always.”
Also Wednesday, Puerto Rican House Speaker Johnny Méndez told Rosello that the island’s lawmakers had begun impeachment proceedings against him.
Several officials in the Rosello administration have resigned in connection with a texting scandal revealed this month, the latest being Rossello’s chief of staff, Ricardo Llerandi. He announced his resignation Tuesday, citing threats against his family.
Meanwhile, a judge issued search warrants for the phones of Rossello and 11 of his political allies.
The public fury erupted when the island’s Center for Investigative Journalism published nearly 900 pages of online group chats among Rossello and several top aides and associates that included profane messages laced with contempt for victims of 2017’s Hurricane Maria, as well as misogynistic and homophobic slurs against Rossello’s political opponents.
The publication of the chats unleashed long-simmering anger among Puerto Ricans worn down by years of public corruption and mismanagement that left the U.S. territory under the control of a congressionally mandated oversight board to guide it out of a multibillion-dollar debt crisis.
Rossello stepped down as leader of the New Progressive Party during a televised address Sunday and said he would not seek re-election in 2020.
U.S. President Donald Trump slammed Rossello on Monday for his “totally grossly incompetent leadership.” Trump clashed with Rossello and other Puerto Rican officials over the administration’s response to Hurricane Maria, which killed 3,000 people and left the island without power for months.