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Massive Protests in Puerto Rico Demanding Resignation of Embattled Governor

Demonstrators protest against Gov. Ricardo Rossello in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Sunday, July 21, 2019.
Demonstrators protest against Gov. Ricardo Rossello in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Sunday, July 21, 2019.

A tenth day of protests in Puerto Rico against embattled Governor Ricardo Rossello ended late Monday with police using tear gas to disperse protesters who had gathered near the governor's mansion in San Juan.

A massive crowd estimated at 500,000 people, including pop singer Ricky Martin and other Puerto Rican-born entertainers, filled the streets of the capital earlier in the day demanding Rossello resign.

The public fury erupted nearly two weeks ago when the island's Center for Investigative Journalism published nearly 900 pages of online group chats between Gov. Rossello and several top aides and associates that included several profane messages laced with contempt for victims of 2017's Hurricane Maria, which killed 3,000 people and left the island without power for months, as well as numerous misogynistic and homophobic slurs against Rossello's political opponents.

The publication of the chats unleashed a long-simmering anger among Puerto Ricans worn down by years of public corruption and mismanagement that left the U.S. territory under the control of a congressionally-mandated oversight board to guide it out of a multi-billion dollar debt crisis.

Rossello stepped down as leader of the New Progressive Party during a televised address Sunday and said he would not seek re-election in 2020.

President Donald Trump slammed Rossello for his "totally grossly incompetent leadership" of Puerto Rico Monday at the White House. Trump clashed with Rossello and other Puerto Rican officials over the administration's seemingly tepid response to Hurricane Maria.

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