Julián Castro calls on Puerto Rico governor to resign as mass protests take over San Juan

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images
JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) — As tensions rise in San Juan, Puerto Rico following reports of controversial leaked group chats between Gov. Ricardo Roselló and a number of his advisers and Cabinet members, former Obama administration Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro is the first Democratic presidential candidate to call on Roselló to resign.

“Americans in Puerto Rico are holding Governor @ricardorossello accountable for his disgraceful comments & corruption,” Castro wrote in a tweet Friday. “I stand with the Puerto Ricans in the streets protesting for his resignation. Excessive force against them is not acceptable.”

Castro’s Tweet comes after several of his opponents have expressed solidarity with Puerto Rican protesters, but do not match his calls for a resignation.

Among the candidates who have voiced support of the protestors via tweets, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, and author Marianne Williamson.

Castro also told Buzzfeed while at event in Manchester, New Hampshire that he doesn’t “think that Rosselló can be effective anymore…The way they’ve treated the people of Puerto Rico, the administration has treated the people of Puerto Rico, I believe that he should resign.”

Castro’s calls for a resignation comes after days of dramatic protests shutting down streets in San Juan, Puerto Rico, with protestors demanding Gov. Roselló give up his seat after a series of leaked group texts released by the Center of Investigative Journalism revealed Roselló and some of his closest advisers and Cabinet members speaking about female politicians and reporters in misogynistic terms and making jokes about the number of dead bodies in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Gov. Roselló has said he will not resign.

On Friday, Hawaii congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard arrived on the island to join protesters in front of the Governor’s Mansion, tweeting that “”Hawaii and Puerto Rico share many of the same experiences and stories. I stand with Puerto Ricans demanding change, who have had enough of government corruption, and who deserve a government of, by, and FOR the people. El pueblo unido jamás será vencido. #RickyRenuncia”

Also on Friday, New York Rep. Nydia Velasquez and Puerto Rico’s Resident Commissioner Jenniffer Gonzalez called for Roselló’s resignation. Gonzalez is a member of the same political party as Roselló and is the island’s highest-ranking representative in Washington DC.

“It is time to give stability to Puerto Rico so that we can continue the reconstruction that was planned before the events of the last weeks and return the credibility of the government of Puerto Rico before the Federal Capital, the financial markets, tourism and the whole world,” Velasquez said in an open letter to Roselló. But more importantly, it is time to give peace to a people who need it so much.”

As a representative of the people of Puerto Rico in the federal capital,” she continued in the statement. “I cannot marginalize myself from the reality we live. Your leadership has been questioned to direct the destinies of the island, as well as our recovery after the hurricane. When that happens, the government, the state, loses strength in its credibility and legitimacy.”

On Thursday, President Donald Trump weighed in on the protests, tweeting “a lot of bad things are happening in Puerto Rico. The Governor is under siege,” before also attacking San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, who was the target of some of the misogynistic messages. Cruz has said she is on the side of the protesters.

Back in January, Castro’s first trip as a presidential candidate was to Puerto Rico. While there he criticized the federal government’s response to the crisis following Hurricane Maria. Two other candidates who have visited Puerto Rico this election cycle are Sen. Warren and Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

Puerto Rico participates in primary elections, but they do not ultimately vote in the November 2020 presidential election.

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