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  • Puerto Rico's Governor Ricardo Rossello led a racist, misogynist smear campaign against his competitors and journalists.

    Puerto Rico's Governor Ricardo Rossello led a racist, misogynist smear campaign against his competitors and journalists. | Photo: Reuters

Published 21 July 2019

Puerto Rico's Governor Ricardo Rossello won't resign in spite of mass protests demanding him to quit.

Puerto Rican Representative Juan Oscar Morales said Sunday that the island's House of Representatives has enough votes to start the impeachment proceedings against Governor Ricardo Rossello.

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Morales said if the three jurists appointed by the lower house president were to recommend a political trial against the president, he would vote in favor.

"The house is going to proceed with the impeachment, I can guarantee that we are going to have the necessary votes to carry it out. I have had conversations with my colleagues, to know what their opinions are, and the vast majority will vote for the procedure if it is recommended by the jurists," he added.

On the ninth consecutive day of demonstrations, citizens continue to call for the resignation of Rossello. The upheaval against his administration started after a scandal came to light in mid-June, revealing the official has led a racist, misogynist smear campaign against his competitors and journalists.

Rossello said on Sunday evening in a statement made on Facebook Live that he would not seek re-election and will resign as president of his political party, the New Progressive Party (PNP), however, he refuses to resign as Governor and is determined to complete his term which will come to end on January 2021.

“I am aware of the dissatisfaction and discomfort you have,” Rossello said, adding that now “all of my time must be dedicated to the responsibilities that I took on as governor,” he added.

The Governor’s announcement came a day before a planned general strike and more protests. His statement seems to have had the opposite effect than the one sought for, as it was met with outrage on Twitter where Puerto Ricans vowed to continue to protests until he quits.

On July 13, an 889-page document, released by the non-profit journalism group Center for Investigative Journalism, revealed how the governor, along with other high-ranking members of his office, manipulated public opinion about Rossello's administration through mass media, creating a “troll network” to discredit negative press coverage, criticism from opposition leaders, and even journalists.

Not only is the governor accused of the smear campaign, but July 10, a pair of his ex-senior administration officials were arrested and charged with fraud for abusing federal work contracts from the Department of Education and the Health Insurance Administration (ASES) and other state departments. According to reports, the three corruption cases amount to US$15.5 million in stolen state funds.

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