CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago’s Puerto Rican community is celebrating, after news their governor has resigned, following nearly two weeks of protests amid a widening corruption scandal.
Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló announced he would resign effective Aug. 2, and that Secretary of Justice Wanda Vázquez would succeed him.
Thousands of protesters celebrated outside the governor’s mansion in San Juan Wednesday night — the 12th night of mass demonstrations – erupting in cheers after Rosselló’s announcement.
The excitement surrounding Rosselló’s resignation wasn’t contained to Puerto Rico. In Humboldt Park, several Puerto Ricans said it’s a historic day that has united their people.
Rosselló announced his move after federal authorities carried out anti-corruption raids targeting his associates; and private messages leaked to the media revealed him and his lieutenants disparaging a political opponent as a “whore,” poking fun at an obese man, and joking about feeding a cadaver from the island’s backlogged morgue to a critic.
“For him to betray his own people like that, it’s a huge slap in the face,” Jasmin Gonzalez said. “There was no more trust, there was no more confidence, no more faith in him.”
Rosselló announced his resignation Wednesday night in a Facebook Live video.
“My only priority has been the transformation of our island and the well-being of our people,” said Rosselló. “The demands have been overwhelming and I’ve received them with highest degree of humility.”
Harim Rivera said Rosselló should have resigned a long time ago.
“The government is corrupt, and we need better people to lead the island for the future,” Rivera said.
Rosselló also is accused of misusing public resources for partisan purposes. Two members of his administration were brought up on corruption charges earlier this month.
“He’s a disgrace. Right now Puerto Rico is going through so much,” Rivera said.
Word of Rosselló’s resignation has turned into a uniting symbol for Puerto Ricans, many hoping it leads to a better future for the island.
“I hope that we have a better government system that can actually be for our people,” Willmynett Diaz said.
Even before the scandals, many Puerto Ricans had become frustrated by systemic problems on the island, which is still reeling from devastating storms and years of economic weakness.
“It’s a beautiful island, beautiful culture, beautiful people. They are so resilient, and we need someone that believes in us and can help us get back to where we should be,” Gonzalez said.