WASHINGTON DC — Puerto Ricans from the island to the diaspora are grappling with multiple, severe crises that threaten the future of Puerto Rico. The island must have credible and trustworthy leadership to steer it forward. In light of a series of damaging corruption and ethics scandals that continue to unravel, Governor Ricardo Rosselló has compromised his ability to lead and should submit his resignation – now.
We welcome accountability for any wrongdoing or crimes committed against the people of Puerto Rico, whether they have taken place in the island or Washington DC. We also demand that people are put first. Let us be abundantly clear: Under no circumstance can the 3.2 million victims of the deadliest natural disaster and the longest electrical blackout in modern U.S. history be allowed to suffer because of the wrongdoing of a few.
The growing clamor on the island and in the Puerto Rican diaspora for the Governor to step down follows 10 arrests of individuals associated with his Administration and, we call on the appropriate institutions to investigate possible violations of the law by the governor and his political accolades in the course of interacting with both governmental and nongovernmental individuals in Telegram chats.
The governor has suggested that he will “clean house.” But leaders choose their teams and the buck stops with them. What was on full display is that the Rosselló team and Administration has been rife with conflicts, misogyny, homophobia and even disrespect for the dead. In the middle of the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, he and his crew of male leaders found the time to continuously degrade people, launch attacks against journalists and worry more about the Governor’s image over the increasing number of dead, than getting to the bottom of the tragedy and investigating it to the fullest extent.
A leader who is truly committed to his patria (homeland in Spanish) and cares about the well-being of his people will forego his ego to allow for a transitional process that is orderly, transparent and begins to restore the confidence of people in the island’s central government.
Crisis presents opportunity. Communities and municipalities throughout Puerto Rico have used long existing, local vehicles – such as land trusts (fideicomisos) and participatory and cooperative entities– towards responsive and responsible development. Power 4 Puerto Rico will continue to call for community participation and processes to ensure that disaster aid reaches and serves communities in need, in the ways they –not predatorial interests– determine.
We emphasize this point as certain leaders attempt to reinforce the power of the Fiscal Oversight and Management Board (FOMB) – which Puerto Ricans have resoundingly and repeatedly rejected. All of these scandals, we remind the public and media, have occurred on the watch of the FOMB, which has failed in any “oversight.”
The pressing matter before all of us is rebuilding and protecting the island for its people.