Puerto Rico prepares for massive protest to expel governor

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) – Puerto Rico braced early yesterday for what many people expected to be one of the biggest protests ever seen in the US territory as irate islanders pledged to drive Governor Ricardo Rosselló from office.

Hundreds of thousands of people were expected to take over one of the island’s busiest highways to press demands for the resignation of Rosselló over an obscenity-laced leaked online chat the governor had with allies as well as federal corruption charges leveled against his administration.

The anticipated march in the capital of San Juan came a day after Rosselló announced that he would not quit, but sought to calm the unrest by promising not to seek reelection or continue as head of his pro-statehood political party. That only further angered his critics, who have mounted street demonstrations for more than a week.

“The people are not going to go away,” said Johanna Soto, of the northeastern city of Carolina. “That’s what he’s hoping for, but we outnumber him.”

Organisers labelled the planned road shutdown “660,510 + 1,” which represents the number of people who voted for Rosselló plus one more to reject his argument that he is not resigning because he was chosen by the people.

Monday would be the 10th consecutive day of protests, and more were being called for later in the week.

The island’s largest mall, Plaza de las Américas, closed ahead of the protest as did dozens of other businesses.

In a video posted on Sunday night on Facebook, Rosselló said he welcomed people’s freedom to express themselves.

He also said he was looking forward to defending himself against the process of impeachment, whose initial stages are being explored by Puerto Rico’s legislature.

Demonstrators protest in San Juan, Puerto Rico. – AP