After weeks of defiance, Puerto Rico’s Ricardo Rosselló is finally capitulating to his constituents: The embattled governor announced that he will be stepping down, effective August 2. His resignation follows mass demonstrations that swept the island after a series of incendiary texts between him and senior advisers were published earlier this month. Rosselló is now the first ever Puerto Rican governor to resign before his term ends. Justice Secretary Wanda Vázquez, who has previously been investigated for corruption, is expected to assume leadership.
Rosselló bungled his own resignation in ways that mirror how critics said he handled the aftermath of Hurricane María — with confusion and disarray. First, the governor was expected to announce he was stepping down at a 5 p.m. press conference but journalists were kept waiting for hours as militarized police from around Puerto Rico surrounded La Fortaleza, the gubernatorial mansion.
One of Rosselló’s press officers then announced the governor would deliver a televised address sometime that evening. As the hours went on, and thousands gathered in San Juan to protest, local news reported that Rosselló had broken an agreement made with House leaders to avoid impeachment by resigning. Finally, just before midnight, Rosselló announced his departure via Facebook Live.
“After listening to the criticisms, speaking to my family, thinking of my children, and praying, I have taken the following decision,” Rosselló said after nearly 10 minutes touting his record as governor. “With detachment, today I announce that I will be resigning my post as governor.”
Thousands of protesters in Old San Juan celebrated early into the morning with fireworks and impromptu sing-alongs. Even as celebrations began, protesters warned that their efforts were to oust all corrupt politicians, including Vázquez.
“It’s very important to clarify that with Ricky’s resignation our impeachment protests won’t end,” wrote the University of Puerto Rico’s Intersectional Feminist Collective on Twitter. “The corruption scheme involves a lot of government officials such…