Puerto Rico Gov. Rosselló resigns as party president, won’t run for re-election
Leaves his future as governor in the hands of the legislature
SAN JUAN — Gov. Ricardo Rosselló left the decision regarding his future as governor of Puerto Rico in the hands of the island’s legislature when announcing Sunday that he will not run for re-election in 2020 and that he resigned as president of his New Progressive Party (NPP).
“I will not run for re-election for governor of Puerto Rico. Also, I am resigning from the presidency of the New Progressive Party,” Rosselló said in a Facebook Live message.
Rosselló acknowledged that the continuous protests and demonstrations demanding his resignation led him to the decide to set aside his political aspirations for the next four years.
“I acknowledge that apologizing is not enough and only my work will help restore these sectors’ trust and lead to true reconciliation,” the governor said.
However, he stated that “I must be respectful of the constitutional order and I welcome the process started by the legislative assembly, which I will face with the entire truth, strength and in a responsible manner.”
He reiterated that were an impeachment process to take place, the executive branch will continue working to guarantee the continuity of all government operations and services, as well as of the projects underway to improve families’ quality of life, he added.
“It is now up to me, in the months that remain, to continue the work entrusted to me and to deliver to my successor, democratically elected, a government with positive economic indicators focused on getting out of the economic and social crisis that we have been experiencing for years. The Puerto Rican people have proven to be respectful of law and order and value this over chaos and misgovernment,” he concluded.
Since the Center for Investigative Journalism released the entire contents of a private chat using the Telegram messaging app, the calls for resignation have turned into mass protests that are now in their 10 consecutive day.
The protests have been joined by public messages from private sector leaders and NPP mayors and lawmakers to members of Congress and Democratic and Republican leaders, as well as political leaders worldwide.
The situation has kept the governor’s mansion under siege for more than a week and has affected commerce in Old San Juan.
Similarly, allegations of corruption in the Rosselló administration have resulted in an even greater delay to the arrival of federal funds for the recovery from Hurricane Maria.
The contents of the chat group came to light after months of speculation about corruption in government agencies, revealed in principle in the resignation letter by former Treasury Secretary Teresita Fuentes and then reinforced by remarks made by the son of also former Treasury Secretary Raúl Maldonado.
Speculation materialized with federal indictments and arrests that included former Education Secretary Julia Keleher and the director of the Health Insurance Administration, Ángela Ávila, along with three other government contractors.
Rosselló’s announcement could serve as motivation for more people to join the Monday march called by various civic and union groups in the Las Americas Expressway, one of the main arteries of the San Juan metropolitan area.
Thousands of people are expected to gather there, as happened in 2000 to demand the departure of the Navy from the island-municipality of Vieques. The now called National Strike to demand that Rosselló step down is expected to be attended by several artists.
The full text of his speech follows:
Puerto Rican sisters and brothers,
Today I am addressing you driven by the deepest respect for democracy. A significant sector of the population has been demonstrating for days and I am aware of the dissatisfaction and discomfort they feel. Their right to express themselves will always be safeguarded.
To every Puerto Rican, I have listened to you and am listening. I have made mistakes and I have apologized. I am a good man who has love for my island and for everyone. Since I began my career to direct the destiny of the people, amid the most distressing fiscal and economic scenario, a fiscal oversight board, and the ravages of the most destructive hurricane in the modern history of the United States, I have given myself in body, spirit and understanding.
Together with my family, we have given it our all to fulfill this great mandate.
Today, I have the responsibility to direct my strength and that of the government to look for alternatives and tools, so that united and before the conscience and will of God, we are able to direct our society toward achieving excellence in a better coexistence as a society, as families and as citizens.
In spite of everything, I acknowledge that apologizing is not enough and only my work will help restore these sectors’ trust and lead to true reconciliation.
Recognizing this, I will not run for re-election for governor of Puerto Rico. Also, I am resigning from the presidency of the New Progressive Party. Finally, I must be respectful of the constitutional order and I welcome the process started by the legislative assembly, which I will face with the entire truth, strength and in a responsible manner.
The priority must be the people of Puerto Rico and therefore all my time must be destined to fulfill the responsibilities that, as governor, I assumed. I put aside any personal interest when desisting from my aspiration of re-election as governor next year.
At the same time, the executive branch will continue to work to ensure that all government operations continue to provide services to citizens and continues to implement the multiple projects aimed at improving the quality of life of our families.
It is now up to me, in the months that remain, to continue the work entrusted to me and to deliver to my successor, democratically elected, a government with positive economic indicators focused on getting out of the economic and social crisis that we have been experiencing for years. The Puerto Rican people have proven to be respectful of law and order and value this over chaos and misgovernment.
We ask God to continue blessing each son and daughter of this land and give us the health and energy to continue giving the best for our Homeland and achieve the greatest aspirations of our people. May God take care of you and bless you always!