Washington - From the White House to Congress, the fact that governor Ricardo Rosselló Nevares faces isolation and discredit from the U.S. political sphere became more evident yesterday.
While thousands of Puerto Ricans marched in San Juan calling for the governor's resignation, President Donald Trump, taking advantage of the island's political crisis, said Rosselló Nevares is a "terrible" governor and that the federal aid granted to the island after Hurricane María has been "squandered, wasted and stolen."The island's leadership "is totally, grossly incompetent" Trump said, answering questions in the Oval Office along with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, whom he asked, again giving false numbers if he could imagine that Puerto Rico had been allocated $92 billion in federal funds.
Rosselló is a terrible governor, he said, "but, I think the mayor of San Juan is even worse. She's horrible. My people did nothing but complain about her when we helped them with their hurricane problems. The mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico is a horror show. She is incompetent, grossly incompetent. At the same time, the governor's not good," he said.
In Puerto Rico, Mayor Cruz, who was interviewed live yesterday on CNN, has been Trump's main nemesis, as early during the emergency caused by Hurricane María raised her voice about the slow and inefficient federal response to the September 20, 2017 catastrophe.
In a statement, the U.S. Republican Party now highlighted the fall of the corrupt governor of Puerto Rico, while its president, Ronna McDaniel tweeted: “There are now two Democrat governors – in Virginia and Puerto Rico – who are mired in scandal and refusing to resign,” pointing at Rosselló Nevares and Virginia's Ralph Northam, who appeared in racist photos in his medical school yearbook.
Although U.S. Democratic Party President Tom Pérez, an ally of the island's Democrats, asked for Northam's resignation, in the case of Rosselló Nevares he said he apologized for his improper and wrong expressions.
However, the vast majority of major presidential candidates have asked Rosselló Nevares to resign, as have several key congressional figures.
The first federal representative to request his resignation, the chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources, Democrat Raúl Grijalva (Arizona), stressed yesterday that Rosselló Nevares must "immediately" resign "to allow Puerto Rico to move forward." He warned that "important discussions about Puerto Rico's political status" - an issue the New Progressive Party (PNP) leadership really wanted to bring to Congress attention - "cannot occur amid the crisis" the island is facing.
However, at the same time, Grijalva said that at a time when there are new restrictions on access to Medicaid funds imposed on the Puerto Rican government, "Congress and the Trump administration must not use this crisis of governance to slow or reduce federal aid, and the control board should not attempt to amass more unelected power over the day-to-day lives of the people of Puerto Rico."
"Certain necessary conversations, including about the island’s long-term status, cannot happen as long as the Rosselló crisis remains in the background," added the chairman of the House committee with primary jurisdiction over Puerto Rico's affairs.
Like Grijalva, Puerto Rican Congresswomen Nydia Velázquez and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and at least eight Democratic presidential candidates - Tulsi Gabbard, Elizabeth Warren, Julian Castro, Bernie Sanders, Marianne Williamson, Pete Buttigieg, Corey Booker, and Bill de Blasio - asked Rosselló Nevares to resign. Among Republicans, Senator Rick Scott (Florida), close to Commissioner Jenniffer González, openly called for the resignation of Rosselló Nevares, and Marco Rubio (Florida) warned that as long as he remains in office he will make it more difficult to get assistance for the island.
As in many U.S. cities and in other countries, Puerto Ricans also protested yesterday in Washington D.C., where more than 1,000 people gathered under the slogan "Ricky Renuncia" (Ricky Resign). For some of them, such as teacher Yahaira Vázquez, a Bowie Maryland resident, and Jetsuel Cancel, who lives in Alexandria, Virginia, it was their first protest.
"If (Rosselló) had been a teacher, he would have been fired by now. That man plays a psychological game with the people," said Vázquez, who was a teacher in Toa Baja and showed a picture of her little daughter, 4, in Puerto Rico, in front of the television with a sign indicating "Ricky Renuncia".
Un manifestante rompe el cristal de un carro luego de que la protesta pacífica de ayer culminara con el lanzamiento de gas de parte de la Uniformada.
Un hombre tira una piedra durante el encontronazo de anoche en el Viejo San Juan.
Un fuego en una de las aceras en las calles del Viejo San Juan.
Un integrante de la Unidad de Operaciones Tácticas, también conocida como la Fuerza de Choque,.
Un oficial de la Fuerza de Choque tirando gas lacrimógeno a los manifestantes.
Un manifestante lleva en manos la bandera de Puerto Rico.
Un policía tira gas lacrimógeno a los manifestantes anoche en el Viejo San Juan.
Un manifestante con máscara de gas sostiene algo con fuego durante la protesta de anoche.
Un manifestante es arrestado por oficiales de la Policía durante el encontronazo de anoche.
Un manifestante se arrodilló en una calle en el Viejo San Juan.
El encontronazo entre la Policía y manifestante duró hasta casi las 2.00 a.m.
La Fuerza de Choque lanzó gases hasta horas de la madrugada.
Material en fuego en una de las calles de la ciudad amurallada.
Integrantes de la Unidad de Operaciones Tácticas establec+ian perímetros mientras desalojaban la ciudad.
El manifestante arrestado anoche por la Fuerza de Choque.
Un manifestante tira una piedra con una mano mientras con la otra sostiene la bandera de Puerto Rico.