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Puerto Rico's Gov Urged to Resign Over Antigay, Sexist Remarks

Ricardo Rossello via Office of the Governor of Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico’s governor, Ricardo Rosselló, is facing pressure to resign after the revelation that he made homophobic and misogynistic comments in online chats.

Two members of his administration have already stepped down, but the governor is resisting calls for his resignation after the publication of a transcript of the chats, in which he and other officials “used profanity and made fun of the LGBTQ community, political figures and even singer Ricky Martin and CBS reporter David Begnaud,” the Orlando Sentinel reports. Both Martin and Begnaud are gay.

Puerto Rico’s Center for Investigative Journalism last week published 889 pages of transcripts from Telegram, a chat program used by the governor and his aides. Transcripts from December showed Rosselló used the term “cocksucker” to describe both Puerto Rican journalist Benjamin Torres Gotay and former Puerto Rico Senate President Eduardo Bhatia, according to El Nuevo Día, a Puerto Rican newspaper. The governor also called former New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito the Spanish word for “whore.”

The territory’s chief financial officer, Christian Sobrino, had derided Martin by saying he “is such a male chauvinist that he fucks men because women don’t measure up,” the Washington Blade reports. Sobrino has now resigned, as has Secretary of State Luis G. Rivera Marín, who is also lieutenant governor.

Rosselló issued a press release Saturday in which he apologized but said he intended to stay on as governor because the people of Puerto Rico elected him. “This is a very painful situation for me as governor, as a human being and as a Puerto Rican,” he said, according to the Sentinel. “But I recognize there is no other way out and there is no worthwhile forgiveness on my part that does not include corrections and clear signs of intent to change.”

Protesters urging his resignation demonstrated late into Saturday night at the governor’s mansion, La Fortaleza, in San Juan, The New York Times reports. Still, Rosselló continued to insist he would not resign, making that point again in an evangelical church service Sunday in the city of Carolina. “I humble myself before you and before the Almighty for the faults I have committed,” he told the congregation, according to El Nuevo Día.

Rosselló has already faced criticism amid the island’s slow recovery from the damage done by Hurricane Maria two years ago and “what many Puerto Ricans viewed as his meek approach toward President Trump,” the Times notes. The territory has also had many financial problems and political corruption scandals.

One of his critics, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, said in a radio interview that she feared the latest revelations would further slow the pace of aid from the federal government. Cruz, who is seeking to replace Rosselló as governor in next year’s election, added that she has filed a police complaint against him and Sobrino because of one of their chat exchanges. Sobrino wrote of Cruz, “I am salivating to shoot her,” and Rosselló replied, “You do me a favor.”

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