Puerto Rico will not back down
The island prepares for the most important day in what is Puerto Rico’s social awakening.
The revolution in Puerto Rico has arrived.
After clashes between protesters and law enforcement in Old San Juan in the last couple of days, activist groups have organized what is expected to be the most important rally in the history of the island.
The initiative of organizations such as Colectiva Feminista en Construcción and Construyamos Otro Acuerdo was joined not only by artists such as Residente Calle 13, Bad Bunny and Ricky Martin, but towns and communities outside the capital.
The evident corruption and the publication of the private chat of Governor Ricardo Rosselló have been the straw that broke the camel’s back for a nation that still has not recovered from two of the worst imaginable natural disasters, and that is tired of the cynicism established in La Fortaleza.
"This is something that has never been seen," Julio E. López Varona, a member of Construamos Otro Acuerdo, told AL DÍA. "We had never seen a time when the entire town was summoned against a governor who represents perhaps the worst we've seen, not only in the administration but in the way people are talked about."
The publication of more than 900 pages of private texts by the Center for Investigative Journalism on July 13 detonated a social movement that demands nothing less than Rosselló’s resignation for having been exposed as a corrupt leader who disrespects the LGBTQ community, women and even the victims of Hurricanes Irma and María.
"The hurricane was three-hour lines at gas stations; it was dead people that everyone knew, help did not come and things were slow," recalls López. "Add to that a chat in which they are talking and making fun of the dead as a political tool (...) that was the straw that broke the camel's back."
López explains how the feeling of weariness in a fed-up nation has been transformed organically into a popular movement from which there is no turning back, and that involves much more than the resignation of the governor.
"We understand that this is not just a moment to talk about getting the governor out, but it is a moment to talk about how to solve the situation in Puerto Rico and start talking about what needs to be talked about," he added.
This impulse has been fueled by the decision of the Legislature of Puerto Rico to form a team of lawyers to evaluate the content of the governor's chat, in what is perceived as the beginning of the end of his tenure.
According to Univisión, the president of the Legislature, Carlos Johnny Méndez, confirmed the beginning of an "evaluation process" of what is now known as #TelegramGate that should present a recommendation for the residency of Rosselló in a 10-day span.
For Pedro Julio Serrano, executive director of Puerto Rico Para Tod@s and senior advisor to the City of San Juan, the concentration this Thursday is the way to say in unison, "¡Basta Ya!"
"The message heard on the street is: 'That persona in La Fortaleza does not represent me,'" he said in an interview with AL DÍA. "The differences between colors and parties have been erased in order to unite in solidarity and demand the respect and collaboration of our country."
With more than 20 years in active struggle for the rights of communities on the island, Serrano knows firsthand the needs of his people and how they’ve been bypassed by the government. That is why he unequivocally affirms that what Puerto Rico is living today is historic.
"I have been fighting for Puerto Ricans rights for over 20 years and I have never seen a fearless people," he said. "There is a nation who is no longer afraid and who now knows that it is we who have the power and not those who claim to govern us."
"We are going to build the Puerto Rico that we truly deserve, a Puerto Rico where we are all included and where we are all respected," he added.
With this conviction, Serrano guaranteed that it is no longer a matter of whether Rosselló will resign but of "when will he resign,” warning that the governor will be responsible for the consequences "if he does not take the right path, which is to leave the government."
Both Puerto Ricans agree that this is the time for the island to begin to heal, to resolve the constitutional crisis that drowns its people and to become the nation they all deserve.