Updated July 18, 12:55 pm
Protests against Puerto Rico governor Ricardo Rosselló have been continuing for days as the embattled politician faces calls for his resignation, following the release of personal correspondence with his allies.
Multiple Puerto Rican celebrities attended protests across the island on Wednesday, including musicians Bad Bunny and Ricky Martin.
U.S. President Donald Trump also offered sharp criticism of the governor Thursday on Twitter.
"A lot of bad things are happening in Puerto Rico. The Governor is under siege, the Mayor of San Juan is a despicable and incompetent person who I wouldn't trust under any circumstance," Trump wrote.
He also repeated an incorrect claim that "the United States Congress foolishly gave 92 Billion Dollars for hurricane relief, much........of which was squandered away or wasted, never to be seen again."
The U.S. federal government's recovery website shows about $42 billion has been allocated for Puerto Rico, with some $13 billion already spent.
"I know the people of Puerto Rico well, and they are great. But much of their leadership is corrupt, & robbing the U.S. Government blind!" the president also wrote.
Wednesday marked an escalation of the protests. Demonstrators broke through a barricade at the governor's mansion late Wednesday night, resulting in a swift police response, with law enforcement firing tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowds.
Protests began on Saturday after Puerto Rico's Center for Investigative Journalism published 889 pages of chats between Rosselló and nine other men in his administration. Many of the messages were vulgar in content, with Rosselló and his colleagues repeatedly using slurs and making derogatory comments about individuals, including political rivals and celebrities.
Rosselló was a member of a group chat on the encrypted messaging app Telegram that included numerous members of his administration, including his secretary of state, interior secretary, and public affairs secretary. Also in the group were finance and communications officials who were allied with the governor.
In one exchange, former chief financial officer Christian Sobrino said he would like to shoot San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz.
Rosselló told Sobrino "You'd be doing me a grand favor."
In another exchange, Rosselló made derogatory comments about a female New York politician with Puerto Rican heritage.
Members also made multiple anti-gay comments about Puerto Rican celebrity Ricky Martin.
Five of the men involved in the group chat were either fired of tendered their resignations following the release of the messages.
Referred to as "Rickyleaks" and "Chatgate," observers saw the release of the chats as the latest episode in a longer series of government impropriety. Days prior to the release of the messages, two former Puerto Rican officials had been arrested on corruption charges, allegedly having misuses $15.5 million of federal funds. Frustrations also linger over the governor's response to Hurricane Maria.
"The chat was the final straw" said Norma Jean Colberg, a 58-year-old protester, in a comment to The New York Times.
Protests, which have carried on since the release of the chats on Saturday, have resulted in at least three arrests so far, according to police commissioner Henry Escalera.
Protesters had gathered outside the presidential mansion on Monday and had been met with rubber bullets, tear gas, and pepper spray.
According to Escalera, protesters had set fire to trash cans that served as a buffer between demonstrators and police,
Rosselló had not been in the mansion at the time on the protests on Monday, however he released a comment calling the protests "an expression that I respect and very much keep in mind."
The governor condemned the property damage and confrontations, however, that took place during the protests.
"There are many other ways to be heard," he reinforced.
Legislation was introduced in Puerto Rico's house of representatives to impeach Rosselló, although both houses of the territory's legislature are controlled by the governor's party.
Beatriz Rosselló, the wife of the governor, released a statement, calling for her husband to be forgiven.
"He made a mistake, understood that and immediately apologized."
In a radio interview, the embattled governor recognized the effect the messengers had on himself and Puerto Rico.
"We are all bruised — I'm bruised — but I recognize it, and I have to get back up," he said.