By Louis Casiano
Published July 17, 2019
Thousands of Puerto Ricans gathered Wednesday in the commonwealth capital of San Juan to demand the resignation of Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, the second mass demonstration against the embattled leader this week.
Waving Puerto Rican flags -- some in black and gray to signal their discontent with the government -- and chanting demands that Rosselló step down, demonstrators of every age group said they were fed up with the corruption of elected officials as well as crippling austerity measures that have scaled back necessary services in recent years.
The crowd included pop star Ricky Martin and reggaeton artists Benito Martinez Ocasio -- known as Bad Bunny -- and Residente.
"Puerto Rico has suffered so much and we can't deal with the cynicism of these leaders anymore," Martin said in a video message posted online. "Enough already. Enough already."
Residente released a song online Wednesday calling for people to take to the streets in the midst of the island territory's political crisis.
"This is coming out early so you can eat it for breakfast," he raps on the song, "Sharpening the knives. Fury is the only political party that unites us."
The hashtag #RickyRenuncia, Spanish for Ricky Resign, was trending on Twitter during a Monday protest that drew hundreds to the same cobblestone streets in Old San Juan. Some police officers were injured and several people were arrested.
Dissatisfaction with the government came to a head this week after 889 pages of messages from a private chat between Rosselló and several other members of his administration were leaked. The messages contained profane, sexist and homophobic comments directed at other elected officials and Martin.
Some included jokes about the deaths suffered after Hurricane Maria.
Two officials have resigned in the wake of the scandal.
Days before the messages leaked, several former officials -- including the former education secretary -- and contractors were arrested as part of an FBI corruption probe.
Karla Villalon said her kids were forced to change schools when one was closed because of budget cuts. She was upset when Rosselló's former education secretary was arrested and accused of steering federal contracts to politically connected contractors.
"It's the final straw," she said. "My kids' classrooms have mold in them ... There's just so much outrage that's been building over time."
Puerto Ricans also took part in smaller demonstrations across the U.S. mainland, including in New York, Orlando, Miami, Philadelphia and Austin.
Lin-Manuel Miranda, the Broadway actor who created the musical "Hamilton," Lin-Manuel Miranda led 200 people at a rally in Manhattan's Union Square.
"Puerto Ricans are so numb to politics in America and we get lies from the Trump administration," said Miranda, who added that the alleged corruption surrounding Rosselló "is the last straw and Puerto Ricans are standing up against it."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.