Puerto Rico governor vows to remain in office despite escalating protests

Posted at 3:01 PM, Jul 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-16 14:36:49-04
CBS Puerto Rico Governor
Defying growing calls for his immediate resignation, Puerto Rico’s beleaguered Gov. Ricardo Rosselló on 7.16.19 vowed to remain in office. (CBS News photo)

SAN JUAN, P.R. – Defying growing calls for his immediate resignation, Puerto Rico’s beleaguered Gov. Ricardo Rosselló on Tuesday vowed to remain in office and bring more transparency and accountability to the Puerto Rican government.

In recent days, his office has been rocked by high-profile corruption arrests and escalating protests over the revelation of vulgar and inappropriate private messages between the governor and his staff.

David Begnaud


Puerto Rico‘s Governor told us a legal analysis was done to determine that the contents in the 889 page chats, that were leaked, were not illegal. He wouldn’t tell us who did that legal analysis and he wouldn’t give us a copy.

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The embattled governor stressed he was committed to protecting the First Amendment rights of his detractors — who in recent days have surrounded Rosselló’s residence, La Fortaleza, to call for his ouster and clashed with police. On Monday night, police equipped with riot gear used tear gas and pepper spray to disperse the crowd outside La Fortaleza. But the governor urged the protesters to not turn to violence.

Rosselló also strongly denied that either he or his wife were being investigated by federal authorities conducting a sweeping corruption probe on the island. Last week, the FBI arrested two former agency directors in Rosselló’s administration and accused them of illegally diverting federal funds to political consultants.

The White House on Tuesday said the political crisis vindicated President Trump’s repeated accusations that the Puerto Rican government is corrupt.

“The unfortunate events of the past week in Puerto Rico prove the President’s concerns about mismanagement, politicization, and corruption have been valid,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement. “We remain committed to Puerto Rico’s recovery and steadfast in protecting taxpayers and the Puerto Rico survivors from political corruption and financial abuse.”

During the press conference, Rosselló, who has sparred with Mr. Trump repeatedly over Washington’s handling of recovery efforts in the aftermath of the devastation caused by hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, responded to the White House’s statement by saying corruption is a social “ill” rampant in both government and the private sector. He vowed to combat it during the remainder of his tenure.

“I just hope we can have a serious conversation about what we’re doing to battle it as opposed to pointing fingers,” he said.

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