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  • Demonstrators demand the resignation of Governor Ricardo Rosello in San Juan, Puerto Rico, July 15, 2019.

    Demonstrators demand the resignation of Governor Ricardo Rosello in San Juan, Puerto Rico, July 15, 2019. | Photo: EFE

Published 16 July 2019

Police Chief Henry Escalera warned that his institution will defend democracy "to the last drop of blood."

In an unsuccessful attempt to discourage demonstrations in San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico, the police Monday harshly cracked down on protesters who are demanding the resignation of the Governor of Puerto Rico Ricardo Rossello, leaving at least 14 injured and 3 arrested.

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Protests in Major US Cities Call For Puerto Rico's Governor to Resign

The area surrounding La Fortaleza, the seat of the Puerto Rican government located in Old San Juan, was the scene of strong clashes, involving the launching of incendiary objects, pavement stones, while the police responded with tear gas.

Given that riots have intensified over the last two days, Rossello could not enter the government headquarters, as confirmed by the Undersecretary of Interior Erik Rolon, who also announced that the Governor will not resign.

Police were urgently mobilized towards Rossello's lodge in Cayey, 54 kilometers from San Juan, where people also began protesting by burning trash at the access road to the governor's residence.

At a press conference with Rolon, Police Chief Henry Escalera warned that his institution, which has used the "level of force it should have used," will defend democracy "to the last drop of blood."

Over the last weekend, there have been protests every day in front of La Fortaleza, some of which ended with violent incidents and altercations.

Demonstrations have been convened by organizations such as the Teachers' Association, the Puerto Rican Workers' Central, the General Union of Workers, the Victory Citizen Movement and the Workers' Union of the Electrical and Irrigation Industry.

This is not Venezuela or Nicaragua. It is Puerto Rico where thousands protest at the capital against corruption. International media networks are silent about what happens on the island.

"We're not going to stop until we see him resign" or "If Ricky does not leave, we're going to take him out", were some of the slogans people shouted.

Puerto Rican artists widely known internationally such as Residente and Bad Bunny have already announced that they will demonstrate Wednesday as part of a new rally to request the resignation of Rossello.

The new wave of protests increased in intensity due to the full publication of 889 pages of Telegram messages in which the governor and his advisors ("the brothers") make homophobic, sexist and derogatory comments against opposition journalists and political leaders.

People living in the streets around La Fortaleza and historical places such as the Cathedral of San Juan awoke Thuesday to painted graffitis reflecting discontent towards the whole Puerto Rican political class.

Public outrage increased when the House of Representatives president Carlos Mendez announced Sunday that the parliament will not initiate a process for the removal of Governor Rossello, arguing that the Justice Department is the institution that should analyze the possible crimes that the leaked Telegram chats could imply.

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