Puerto Rico Erupts in a Day of Protests
SAN JUAN, P.R. — Hundreds of thousands of people swept through the capital of Puerto Rico on Monday, shutting down a major highway and paralyzing much of the city in the latest in a series of furious protests over the island’s embattled governor, Ricardo A. Rosselló.
The protest was one of the largest ever seen on the island, as Puerto Ricans streamed into the capital on buses — and some on planes from the mainland — in a spontaneous eruption of fury over the years of recession, mismanagement, natural disaster and corruption that have fueled a recent exodus.
Ignoring sporadic deluges, demonstrators launched impromptu line dances, paraded on horseback, banged pots and carried banners along several miles of highway, many shouting: “Ricky, renuncia, el pueblo te repudia!” — Ricky, resign, the people reject you.
Demonstrations continued until after 11 p.m., when the police bean firing tear gas and rubber bullets into the crowd in an attempt to clear the streets in front of the governor’s mansion.
Mr. Rosselló said on Sunday that he would step down from the leadership of his party and pledged not to run for re-election in 2020. But the governor, a 40-year-old former biomedical scientist and businessman, is growing increasingly isolated as a series of influential political leaders, some from his own party, have called on him to accede to public demands for an immediate resignation.
“Governor, Puerto Rico Demands Your Resignation,” the island’s largest-circulation daily newspaper, El Nuevo Día, said in an unusual front-page editorial on Monday.
The newspaper, citing an analysis by a geographer, said more than 500,000 people attended Monday’s protest, which later in the day moved from the highway to the area outside the governor’s residence. The organizers had not yet cited an attendance estimate, and the police said they did not plan to offer one.