By Robert Gearty
Published July 15, 2019
Puerto Rico’s embattled governor on Monday continued to reject calls for his resignation over a lengthy profane, vulgar and homophobic chat he participated in with close advisors on an encrypted app -- and that was later leaked to investigative reporters.
The scandal has already claimed the jobs of two top aides to Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, but the governor doesn't plan to join his staffers, saying Sunday at a church in San Juan he would look to God to guide him through “figurative or real” hurricanes.
He said his "commitment is to learn from what was done" and continue "advancing efforts so that Puerto Rico can move forward," the Associated Press reported.
Police stood guard in front of the governor’s residence in San Juan Sunday as protestors gathered near the padlocked main doors and chanted, “Ricky resign, the people don’t want you.”
The leaked chat from the encrypted messaging app Telegram was obtained by Puerto Rico's Center for Investigative Journalism.
In the chat, which involved 11 top government officials and political aides, Rosselló called former New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito the Spanish word for "wh---," and, in English, told Puerto Rico’s financial oversight board to "go f--- yourself" followed by a string of emojis with the middle finger raised.
"A person who uses that language against a woman, whether a public figure or not, should not govern Puerto Rico...this type of behavior is completely unacceptable," Mark-Viverito said.
Puerto Rican pop star Ricky Martin, who was the subject of a homophobic comment in the chat, also urged Rosselló to step down. Another target was San Juan mayor -- and President Trump antagonist -- Carmen Yulin Cruz.
“I’m dying to shoot her up,” Rosselló’s chief financial officer Christian Sobrino -- one of the governor’s aides who lost his job -- said of Cruz in the chat, according to CBS News.
“You’d be doing me a big favor,” Rosselló replied.
The political turmoil comes as Puerto Rico already faces challenges from the impact of a 13-year recession, a debt crisis and the onslaught of Hurricane Maria in 2017.
It also comes days after FBI agents arrested Julia Keleher, Puerto Rico's former education secretary, and five others on charges of steering federal money to unqualified, politically connected contractors.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.