Source: NBC News
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló announced his resignation Wednesday days after demonstrators at the island’s largest protest in recent history called for his ouster over a scandal involving leaked private chats as well as corruption investigations and arrests.
His resignation, effective Aug. 2, came late Wednesday night on a recorded video published on Facebook. In the message, he touted what he considered accomplishments of his tenure, saying he fought corruption and made strides for different communities.
“My only North Star has been the well-being of my island,” he said.
Crowds in the streets, which for nearly two weeks had been calling for the governor to step down, immediately erupted in joyous chants, cheering “Puerto Rico! Puerto Rico!”
“Ricky, te botamos!” (“Ricky, we threw you out!”) the jubilant crowd exclaimed after the governor’s announcement.
“After the birth of my son, this is the happiest day of my life,” said René Pérez Joglar, also known as Residente. The acclaimed Puerto Rican reggaeton star was among the artists who had galvanized the island in rallies that were unprecedented in their scope.
Rosselló is the U.S. commonwealth’s first governor to resign.
In his recorded message, he urged people to stay orderly. “What I wish most is peace and progress for my people,” he said.
The news came after three attorneys commissioned by the president of Puerto Rico’s House of Representatives, Carlos Méndez Núñez, unanimously found five offenses that constituted grounds for impeachment.
In the report that was leaked to the press, the attorneys found Rosselló committed four serious offenses and one misdemeanor, including illicitly using public resources and services for partisan purposes, as well as allowing government officials and contractors to misuse public funds and time for non-government work.
Méndez had announced he had convened a meeting for Thursday afternoon to begin the impeachment process.
Rosselló’s announcement came after a day of mounting frustration as reporters gathered to wait in front of the governor’s mansion for the anticipated announcement as thousands of people gathered nearby in Old San Juan chanting, “Ricky, Renuncia!” (“Ricky, Resign!”)
Reports of Rosselló’s planned resignation had broken Tuesday, a few hours after NBC News and Telemundo, both owned by NBC Universal, reported that the island’s Justice Department had issued search warrants to confiscate the cellphones of several people who took part in the private chats.
Hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans have been protesting for 12 consecutive days, demanding Rosselló’s ouster. Protests continued to grow on the island after Rosselló announced Sunday that he wouldn’t run for re-election and that he would step down from the leadership of the pro-statehood New Progressive Party.