Puerto Rico governor refuses to step down amid corruption and texting scandals

Embattled Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló refused to step down Tuesday amid demonstrations calling for his resignation after a series of scandals that continue to rock his administration of the island territory.

“Aside from these [protests] I recognize their importance, I recognize the magnitude, and it’s important to me that the government continues working for the island and we get results,” he said at a news conference, according to McClatchy D.C.

Rosselló's government was thrown into chaos Saturday after the Center for Investigative Journalism in Puerto Rico released 889 pages containing sexist, homophobic and profane text messages from the encrypted app Telegram between him and 11 other male members of his administration.

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Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello speaks during a press conference in La Fortaleza's Tea Room, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello speaks during a press conference in La Fortaleza's Tea Room, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)

The chat group included Luis Rivera Marín, Rosselló's secretary of state; Christian Sobrino, who held a series of important economic posts; Carlos Bermúdez, a onetime communications aide; Edwin Miranda, a communications consultant; Interior Secretary Ricardo Llerandi; Public Affairs Secretary Anthony Maceira; and Elías Sánchez, onetime representative to the board overseeing Puerto Rico's bankruptcy

In the leaks, Rosselló describes New York politician Melissa Mark-Viverito, who was born in Puerto Rico, as the Spanish word for "wh---," and made fun of Puerto Rican pop star Ricky Martin for being gay.

San Juan Mayor -- and frequent critic of President Trump -- Carmen Yulin Cruz was also targeted.  “I’m dying to shoot her up,” Rosselló’s chief financial officer, Christian Sobrino, said of Cruz in the chat.

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Citizens riot near the executive mansion demanding the resignation of Gov. Ricardo Rossello on Monday. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)

Citizens riot near the executive mansion demanding the resignation of Gov. Ricardo Rossello on Monday. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)

The chat also contained emojis of a raised middle finger directed at the federal control board that oversees the island's finances. Rivera Marín, Sobrino, Bermúdez and Miranda have already resigned or been fired.

The leaks came days after six former government officials and contractors, including the commonwealth's former education secretary, were arrested in a federal corruption probe.

Protesters took to the cobblestone streets of Old San Juan on Monday evening holding signs and chanting, "Ricky, renuncia," or Ricky, resign. Some participants spray-painted insults used in the chats on walls.

Rosselló said 21 police officers were injured during confrontations with the crowd; police used tear gas to disperse protesters who lit fireworks in front of the governor's mansion.

“We cannot protect vandalism, aggression and violence,” the governor said. “I want to make sure that following this blow, we can rise again.”

The scandals are a blow to Puerto Rico, which is still recovering from the devastation left by Hurricane Maria in 2017 and a continuing debt crisis and 13-year recession.

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Police units protect the area near the executive mansion from protesters demanding the resignation of  Puerto Rico's governor. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)

Police units protect the area near the executive mansion from protesters demanding the resignation of  Puerto Rico's governor. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)

Rosselló's refusal to resign has elicited outrage from Puerto Ricans in Florida, many whom migrated after the hurricane.

“The institutions of government in Puerto Rico are as fragile as its infrastructure after Maria,” Jorge Bonilla, a conservative Puerto Rican talk-show host based in Central Florida, told McClatchy. “I think it’s unsustainable that he continues to be governor. ... At this point you have to wonder what more can happen before Congress takes control” of the island.”

Members of Rosselló's pro-statehood New Progressive Party do not support beginning impeachment proceedings against him, said Carlos Méndez Núñez, the president of the Puerto Rico House of Representatives.

A protester stands near a poster calling for the resignation of Gov. Ricardo Rossello, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Monday. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)

A protester stands near a poster calling for the resignation of Gov. Ricardo Rossello, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Monday. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)

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He said Rosselló was given a one-week deadline to show he can govern.

"This week he'll meet with mayors, with legislators, and we have to give him this time," Méndez Núñez said. "Impeachment isn't on the table yet. But we reserve the right to evaluate if that's merited."

Fox News reporter Robert Gearty and The Associated Press contributed to this report.