UPDATE, July 13, 2019: Puerto Rico’s Centro de Periodismo Investigativo has published the full Telegram chat thread, all 889 pages of it.
UPDATE, July 11, 2019: A new series of chats have been made public.
SAN JUAN — On Tuesday morning, all hell broke loose on Puerto Rican social media when printed screenshots of a Telegram group chat that included governor Ricardo Rosselló and his inner circle began circulating. With only 11 out of the 889 pages leaked, the public got merely a glimpse of how top members of the Rosselló administration communicate.
Some of the visible members in the chat were: Rosselló, Chief of Staff Ricardo Llerandi; the Governor’s former legal advisor Alfonso Orona; former Public Affairs Secretary for La Fortaleza Ramón Rosario; government communications advisor Carlos Bermudez; government communications advisor Rafael Cerame D’Acosta , publicist and statehood party donor Edwin Miranda, and the executive director of the Financial Advisory Authority and Fiscal Agency and representative to the Governor on the Financial Oversight Board Christian Sobrino. There is also a person identified only as “F do” (possibly Fernando).
Llerandi confirmed the veracity of the chat through a written statement, saying that “it should be made clear that they [the conversations] arise from an unofficial channel of communication, in a private context and in an informal manner. As we all know, it is common and habitual for people to use message applications from different platforms and applications to communicate.”
Ramón Rosario used the chat to call Senator Aníbal José Torres, “La Jossie,” which many are interpreting as a homophobic comment.
Later on, Rosselló quipped that he and “Luis G.” should take vacations so that Vázquez would become interim governor, just to see what she does. Luis G. is referring to Secretary of State, Luis G. Rivera Marín.
The group then joked that Rosselló should leave on official business instead, out of “Macondo,” the fictional town in Gabriel García Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, which is often used by Puerto Ricans to insinuate the mess in the island.
The leaked pages are from December 2018, and the conversation is centered mostly on Secretary of Justice Wanda Vázquez’s trial for allegedly intervening in a case that involved her daughter.
Back in late 2018, in the span of a month, Vázquez was accused, relieved from her charges (although she was never asked to resign by Rosselló) and later acquitted from the charges and reinstated as Secretary of Justice.
In the chat, the group made fun of the supposed disappointment of the President of the Senate, Thomás Rivera Schatz, who on multiple occasions asked Vázquez to resign and was one of her biggest critics at the time.
Rosario also shared a meme of a picture of Rosselló telling Rivera Schatz that “Wanda (Vázquez) te pasó por la piedra” which roughly translates to “Wanda screwed you over.”
Christian Sobrino also shared memes that showed Rosselló holding a shark (a nickname for Rivera Schatz) that including the hashtag #nocausa (no cause for arrest).
In the chat, the person identified only as “F do” included a screenshot of a tweet from journalist Benjamín Torres Gotay showing distaste for the prosecutors, and “F do” remarks that “even this cabrón is making sense.”
The rest of the 11 pages are memes and chirps from Rosselló and his friends, and many are waiting anxiously for the other pages to be released.
889-11=878 páginas que aún faltan por leer del TelegramGate. ? pic.twitter.com/t1Fz6oU66G
— Juan Carlos Pedreira (@juancpedreira) July 9, 2019
The leak is reminiscent of WhatsApp Gate from early 2018 where a chat that consisting of multiple public officials from the statehood party (PNP) was leaked and ended in a state investigation and a resignation from a municipal judge for an ethics violation.
Rosselló is currently on vacation and has not commented on the issue.
If you search for #TelegramGate on Twitter, you’ll find an abundance of memes.
Natalia Rodríguez Medina is the 2019 summer correspondent for Latino Rebels. She is a member the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY’s Class of 2019. Natalia tweets from @nataliarodmed.