Puerto Rico governor to step down, but protesters vow to oppose successor

Thursday, July 25, 2019 - 06:00

SAN JUAN (Reuters) - People danced on the streets of San Juan’s old city early on Thursday after Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló bowed to protesters’ demands and said he would quit over profane chat messages that sparked massive protests on the Caribbean island.

After 12 days of sometimes violent demonstrations, the first-term governor said he would step down on Aug. 2, having failed to soothe critics’ concerns by vowing not to seek re-election and giving up the leadership of his political party.

“I feel that to continue in this position would make it difficult for the success that I have achieved to endure,” Rosselló said in an overnight address, listing accomplishments in office that ranged from creating new industries to promoting equal pay for women.

Rosselló’s term as governor has seen the island hit with back-to-back 2017 hurricanes that killed some 3,000 people and wreaked widespread destruction, just months after the U.S. territory filed for bankruptcy.

Packed with protesters awaiting the announcement, San Juan’s historic Old City erupted in joy when news broke that Rosselló, whose administration has been dogged by allegations of corruption, was stepping down.