NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Cheers erupted outside the governor’s mansion in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico when Gov. Ricardo Rosello announced overnight that he will be stepping down.
Puerto Ricans have been outraged ever since chat messages leaked earlier this month between the governor and his inner circle that included profane, homophobic and sexist comments, including jokes about Hurricane Maria victims and sexist slurs about New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.
The governor’s resignation will take effect on August 2.
Secretary of Justice Wanda Vazquez will take his place.
New Yorkers have been reacting to the news.
“Just because we’re not on the island doesn’t mean we don’t have opinions,” said East Harlem resident Abigail Castillo. She still travels regularly to her native Puerto Rico, as recently as last week, when she participated in protests against Rosello, calling for him to resign.
“I think the voices were definitely heard. Especially, it’s really important for the Puerto Ricans in the diaspora to come out, to show out, to say we are here,” she told CBSN New York’s Natalie Duddridge.
“It’s about time! I don’t know what took him so long, all his excuses, but thank God he’s out,” said East Harlem resident Rene Moran.
Mark-Viverito took to the streets of New York City with hundreds of others over the last week at Union Square and Columbus Circle. Joining the protests was another well known Puerto Rican New Yorker, Lin Manuel-Miranda.
The rallies here in New York were without incident, but some Puerto Ricans say the protests on the island went too far.
“They can protest, but you don’t have to burn stuff or attack the police. People got mad, they got out of control, and they were tired because look what happened after the hurricane. Where’s the money for that?” said East Harlem resident David Garay.
Even before the scandal, many Puerto Ricans in New York say they were concerned about the island’s economy and slow recovery after Hurricane Maria. Now they hope the territory can turn over a new leaf.
“There’s need for food, for houses. They’re still broke. We feel it over here because we’re from over there, and it’s not good,” said Gloria Rodriguez.
“Now it’s time to elect the next successor, which I think is Wanda Vazquez, and let’s see if we can just start from there,” said East Harlem resident Eddie Caceres.
Many say that start will be a long process, but they’re eager for a new chapter, Duddridge reported.