22 de agosto de 2019
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Demonstrators, artists once again demand resignation of Puerto Rico governor

San Juan, Jul 22 (efe-epa).- Tens of thousands of demonstrators, headed by Puerto Rican artists and athletes, on Monday once again demanded the resignation of Gov. Ricardo Rossello amid the burgeoning political scandal unleashed by the release of hundreds of pages of transcripts of controversial online chats he engaged in with other top officials.

The event, which coincides with an island-wide strike, was preceded by a torrential downpour and by sweltering heat in San Juan, although the weather did not interrupt the marches.

Performers including Ricky Martin, Bad Bunny, Residente and Olga Tañon, among many others, turned out once again for yet another anti-Rossello protest, bolstering their roles as leaders among the Puerto Rican public in the almost daily demonstrations.

On July 17, they had been in the vanguard of another massive protest in Old San Juan.

The marchers called for Rossello's resignation due to his participation, along with close associates and Cabinet officials, in a private online chat - transcripts of which were leaked recently - where they mercilessly mocked and insulted reporters, artists and politicians.

After marching along Las Americas, one of San Juan's main avenues, boxer Tito Trinidad and assorted singers including Pedro Capo and Kany Garcia reiterated, on a stage set up for the event, their call for Rossello to step down.

Residente (a former member of the musical group Calle 13) said that Monday's march was "very nice" and warned that the protests will continue until the governor resigns.

On Sunday Rossello said that he would not step down, but he also announced that he will not run for re-election in 2020 and resigned the presidency of the New Progressive Party (PNP).

In addition, he emphasized the unity of the Puerto Rican people and the fact that no political parties were participating in the marches related to the chat scandal.

Meanwhile, Martin said that during Monday's march "the people are speaking," called Rossello's announcements on Sunday "stupid" and warned that the people in the US commonwealth "do not want dictators."

Tañon sang "Preciosa" for the crowd, a nostalgic love song dedicated to the island and in which, among other things, the lyrics reflect the economic crisis that prevailed in Puerto Rico during the 1930s.

The protesters chanted, in Spanish, "There are more of us and we're not afraid" and "Let it rain, let it rain, let Ricky (Rossello) get out."

After the march, which departed and returned to the Hiram Bithorn stadium, many of the protesters headed for the La Fortaleza presidential residence.

Monday's march comes amid an island-wide strike and police surrounded the governor's residence to prevent any incidents, given that some of the daily demonstrations have taken place right in front of it and nearby and have ended with clashes between police and some of the more excited marchers.

One of Puerto Rico's main dailies, El Nuevo Dia, devoted an editorial on Monday to the matter, writing: "Governor, it's time to listen to the people: You have to resign" and saying that the Puerto Rican public "has expressed itself eloquently."

Yumarie, a housewife in Cabo Rojo, in the southern portion of the island, told EFE that "We're not going to stop ... This thief (Rossello) has to go!" adding that she traveled to the capital on Monday morning to participate in the march, which she hoped would be comparable in size to the massive turnout last Wednesday in Old San Juan.

Noelismar, a nurse working in western Puerto Rico who was also on hand for the march, told EFE that the "chat is not the problem. The problem is that they've been stealing from us all these years, they've lied to us and they thought they could fool us, they already did it with the dead (from Hurricane) Maria. Not again!"

According to an estimate by Harvard University, Hurricane Maria, which devastated the island in 2017, resulted in 4,600 deaths, but official figures put the death told at just 64.

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