Revolution in Puerto Rico: Rosselló was just the beginning
Two weeks of intense demonstrations forced the governor of Puerto Rico to finally resign from office. But this is only the beginning of a long-awaited change on the island.
Drums in old San Juan announced days ago the boiling of an unprecedented social movement in Puerto Rico.
After the publication of the private chat of Governor Ricardo Rosselló and his cabinet, the Puerto Rican people obtained the irrefutable proof of the corruption and rot that nested for years in La Fortaleza.
War drums, music, dance, and songs animated an organic movement that took to the streets of San Juan and towns throughout Puerto Rico, demanding nothing less than the governor’s resignation.
The pressure was such that Rosselló had no choice but to listen, for the first time, to the voice of the people.
Concentrated in front of the government house, protesters were waiting - tense, optimistic and expectant - for the final announcement of the governor last Wednesday.
“Once the governor's message began, the silence was sepulchral,” recalled Syrmarie Villalobos, an anchor/reporter for Telemundo62 who spoke with AL DÍA on July 26 about what is happening in Puerto Rico in the last few days.
“Once he said ‘I resign,’ the party and excitement came back with emotion,” she recounted. “It is the first time in history that the entire nation took to the streets. There were children, young people, adults, and old people, all in the street. I am Puerto Rican and I have been covering the island for the last 10 years, and have never seen anything like this.”
Everyone agrees that the engine behind this revolution has been the new generation.
"I don't know if it was Maria or the new generation of ‘Yo No Me Dejo,’ but the country changed. The country is completely different,” said Villalobos.
Nothing has been heard from the government since the resignation announcement. The radio silence of La Fortaleza has been broken only by brief messages on social media, barricades of meetings and little else, while the uncertainty grows in the streets with the same force with which the protests took place two weeks ago.
And the strength of the movement has been such, that the next person to sit in Rosselló's chair will think twice before disregarding the expressed will of the people of Puerto Rico.
“They are going to have to know how things are played,” Villalobos laughed.
One of them is the Secretary of Justice Wanda Vázquez.
After the resignation of the governor, and the previous resignation of his Secretary of State Luis Rivera Marín, Vázquez is the next in the line of succession, while the general elections are held next year.
But Vázquez is as involved in the governor's scandal as everyone else, and that is something the people know and have let her know.
"For the last few days we have been touring the old San Juan and what was left reflected on the walls, written in graffiti, is that people are certainly upset about Wanda," explains Villalobos. "She is being asked to resign, she is being warned to ‘just warm the chair, we are going for you.’"
The Puerto Rican popular movement has continued to spread through all media, especially social networks, where it is made clear that Rosselló was only the beginning.
Despite the silence of the ruling party, the discussion in the streets is about who will take the power of the country on August 2. Names like Thomas Rivera Schatz (president of the Senate), Pedro Pierluisi (former resident commissioner) or Ramón Ruiz Rivera (mayor of Bayamón), are thought to be the most likely candidates to take over.
But what the people want is to choose, and the message they have sent in recent days, loud and clear, is that they will not rest until the country is completely changed.
“There is a lot of uncertainty and speculation about what will happen from now on,” explained Villalobos. “People are upset and I don't think the demonstrations will necessarily stop. This is something never seen before. People will gradually internalize the magnitude of what happened in the country and will make this reach further. They want to ensure that a change is achieved.”