Puerto Rico’s embattled governor has finally said he will resign after provoking days of riots with homophobic and sexist comments.
Protests erupted in the US territory after 800 pages of chats from the encrypted messaging app Telegram were leaked by the Centre for Investigative Journalism.
In one chat, governor Ricardo Rosselló calls a New York female politician of Puerto Rican background a ‘whore,’ describes another as a ‘daughter of a b****’ and makes fun of an obese man he posed with in a photo.
The chat also contains vulgar references to Puerto Rican star Ricky Martin’s homosexuality and a series of emojis of a raised middle finger directed at a federal control board overseeing the island’s finances.
Thousands of protesters marched in the capital San Juan calling for Rossello’s resignation.
Following his announcement that he would step down as governor on August 2, a crowd of demonstrators gathered outside his mansion and erupted into cheers and singing.
Addressing the protests, Mr Rossello said: ‘The demands have been overwhelming and I’ve received them with highest degree of humility.’
The obscenity-laced online messages involving the governor and 11 other men infuriated Puerto Ricans already frustrated with corruption, mismanagement, economic crisis and the sluggish recovery from Hurricane Maria nearly two years ago.
In reaction, tens of thousands took to the streets to demand Mr Rossello’s resignation in Puerto Rico’s biggest demonstrations since the protests that put an end to US Navy training on the island of Vieques more than 15 years ago.
Mr Rossello, a Democrat elected in 2016, is the first governor to resign in the modern history of Puerto Rico, a US territory of more than three million American citizens.
Under Puerto Rico’s constitution, the secretary of state would normally assume the governorship, but since Secretary of State Luis Rivera Marin became one of more than a dozen officials to resign in the uproar over the leak, leadership of the island would fall to Justice Secretary Wanda Vazquez.
She would become Puerto Rico’s second female governor.