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‘THE PEOPLE CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE’: PUERTO RICO ERUPTS IN A DAY OF PROTESTS

In recent days, Puerto Ricans have used a variety of phrases to explain the effect the revelation of the crass messages has had on Puerto Ricans of all stripes: The last drop that overflowed the glass. The straw that broke the back of the Puerto Rican camel.

“It’s all connected,” said Dimaris Traverso, who joined the protests in San Juan. “From a bad government, to poor performance — it all connects.”

Demonstrators and the police clashed near the governor’s mansion on Monday night.CreditErika P. Rodriguez for The New York Times

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Hundreds of thousands of people swept through the capital of Puerto Rico on Monday, shutting down a major highway and paralyzing much of the city in the latest in a series of furious protests over the island’s embattled governor, Ricardo A. Rosselló.

People protesting years of corruption, government dysfunction and an anemic economy swept into the capital city to the beat of drums, tambourines and maracas, buoyed by the support of the Puerto Rican diaspora on the U.S. mainland and beyond.

Demonstrations continued until after 11 p.m., when the police began firing tear gas and rubber bullets into the crowd in an attempt to clear the streets in front of the governor’s mansion.

Mr. Rosselló said on Sunday that he would step down from the leadership of his party and pledged not to run for re-election in 2020. But the governor, a 40-year-old former biomedical scientist and businessman, is growing increasingly isolated as a series of influential political leaders, some from his own party, have called on him to accede to public demands for an immediate resignation.

Video obtained by The Washington Post shows protesters on July 22 continuing to call for the resignation of Gov. Ricardo Rosselló (D). (The Washington Post)

The newspaper, citing an analysis by a geographer, said more than 500,000 people attended Monday’s protest, which later in the day moved from the highway to the area outside the governor’s residence. The organizers had not yet cited an attendance estimate, and the police said they did not plan to offer one.

The masses assembled in San Juan early Monday, with tens of thousands flooding the streets ahead of a planned 9 a.m. start time, while photos and videos of the march inundated social media.

“They can’t deny it: The power is in the street,” San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz wrote in a Twitter message on Monday.

“These governments are corrupt governments,” said Martin Gonzalez, who joined Monday’s march.

“The people must make themselves be respected. And we take to the streets to be respected,” he told Reuters News Agency.

Rossello, 40, asked for forgiveness and said he respected the wishes of Puerto Ricans in a message broadcast online on Sunday.

“I know that apologising is not enough,” Rossello said in a video posted on Facebook. “A significant sector of the population has been protesting for days. I’m aware of the dissatisfaction and discomfort they feel. Only my work will help restore the trust of these sectors.” 

But President Trump joined those criticizing the governor Monday, denouncing the U.S. territory’s government as “corrupt” and “incompetent.” He called Rosselló a “terrible governor.”

“The crimes committed by the governor are so horrendous that it cannot wait,” said the mayor, who filed a police report against Rosselló and Sobrino Vega.

“There’s an indignation that they walk all over you day after day,” said Ms. Santiago, who supports the protests. “They are up there making decisions and don’t see the domino effect the things they do have on the people. The people can’t take it anymore.”

In recent days, Puerto Ricans have used a variety of phrases to explain the effect the revelation of the crass messages has had on Puerto Ricans of all stripes: The last drop that overflowed the glass. The straw that broke the back of the Puerto Rican camel.

“It’s all connected,” said Dimaris Traverso, who joined the protests in San Juan. “From a bad government, to poor performance — it all connects.”

Demonstrators and the police clashed near the governor’s mansion on Monday night.CreditErika P. Rodriguez for The New York Times

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