Rosselló Fell Because of a Popular Uprising

Jul 26, 2019
8:22 AM

Demonstrators march on Las Americas highway demanding the resignation of governor Ricardo Rosselló, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Monday, July 22, 2019. (AP Photo/Gianfranco Gaglione)

Versión en español aquí.

Ricardo Rosselló fell because of a popular uprising. Read it out loud. Repeat it. Internalize it. It’s a fact.

Rosselló ceased being Governor. There is no going back. The pandero’s beat, the güiro, the cencerro vibrate in the streets at the rhythm of people’s sweat—that beat is now the law.

El pueblo boricua defeated Rosselló in the street. We are facing history observing a constant uprising and a definitive fall. The uprising will be our collective conscience. It is vital that we pass to the next step in the struggle to push the country forward. The fall must represent the end of corruption, and the stagnation and the suffering that it causes. Stagnation of the production line worker bottling the pills that he cannot afford for his sick mother. Stagnation of families who now must commute an absurd distance so their children with special needs can attend school. Suffering of families who lose a mother, a daughter, with impunity by the violent hand of an abusive husband or companion. Suffering of trans men and women due to the social isolation imposed by a xenophobe with a backward mentality. Suffering of families still waiting to bury a loved one.

After more than two weeks of protest and the people clashing with the police, Rosselló lost the opportunity for a dignified exit. Dignified would have been to accept the moment of defeat like a boxer who acknowledges a beating. But the panderos se quedaron con el canto (the street drummers took over), now they dictate the pulse, and they won’t shut up. El pueblo es más y no tiene miedo.

But all of this struggle is not only about Rosselló. It is about a colonial system that continuously stomps the Boricua people. It is about a colonial system that promotes the worthlessness of Puerto Ricans, while it uplifts the colonizer and hides his abuses. It is about a colonial system that intends to sell the national patrimony and steal even our sighs. It is about a colonial system that poisons us on the daily with mediums filled by clowns and corrupt convicts disguised as journalists and political analysts that manipulate the public opinion. It is about a colonial system that insists on usurping the Boricua people from history and their own land.

Only one positive thing developed from Rosselló’s resistance to accept his fall. With every minute that passed, the people reflected, considered, and visualized every aspect of the system that must succumb with this uprising, as well as the society we can build as a people united.  At this moment, we know about everyone within the sphere of governmental power who entered into a tomb of silence while attempting to hide their guilt.

Demonstrators protest against Gov. Ricardo Rosselló in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Sunday, July 21, 2019. (AP Photo / Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo)

In this, the legislature was left stranded by the bus. Nothing is known about the President of the House of Representatives, Johnny Méndez, who never dared to ask publicly for Roselló’s resignation, and continued dragging his feet to start an impeachment process. In the middle of the governmental collapse, Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz took off to Panama, and now, in a convenient twist, he will become the President of the PNP. In this situation, the PNP does not have anyone who is not involved in corruption schemes and who can govern responsibly. From nepotism, ghost employees, and dubious contracts in the legislature and municipalities, to serious allegations of ethics violations and corruption by the Secretary of Justice, Wanda Vázquez Garced, the PNP will go down as the first government to succumb to a massive popular uprising. The people are in the streets. El pandero es ley.

Since the North American invasion, it is the first time that Puerto Rico throws out a ruler unequivocally by the will of the people. According to the protocols of the colonial government in the absence of the Governor, the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Justice, in this case, Luis Gerardo Marín Rivera and Wanda Vázquez Garced, respectively, were the people to occupy the Governorship. Conveniently for Rosselló, Marín Rivera resigned from his position in the middle of the current scandals. Several months prior, he was ridiculed in the middle of a humanitarian aid campaign that was never distributed to the people of Venezuela. On the other hand, when hundreds of boxes of bottled water were found abandoned on a landing pad at the Ceiba airport, and when the wagons of humanitarian aid for the people affected by Hurricane Maria disappeared, Vázquez Garced, neglected an investigation of the negligence caused by Rosselló.

Throughout the conversation about his private chat, Rosselló exposed a dark reality. A reality of administrative work motivated on self-hatred, and therefore, against the people of Puerto Rico. This same hatred, like a roof covering all administrations past, was finally torn off by the Hurricane that lives within our people. The massive closing of schools and the constant pillaging of the Department of Education; the War against the University of Puerto Rico; the never-ending offense against the working people; worsening unemployment, and migration to the United States, are examples of how the identity of a nation is dismantled by a relentless assimilation that bows downs to the colonialist and racist policies of the United States of America. Vázquez Garced cannot rectify this.

Ricardo Rosselló holds a press conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Thursday, July 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)

The absence of options within the PNP to select a responsible Governor demonstrates the failure of the colonial system. El pandero claims a justice beyond the fall of a corrupt Governor. The law of the pandero claims justice in the names of women who were fighting way before anybody thought that Rossello’s fall was possible. The law of the rumba claims justice for all of the protestors who left their skins in the city’s adoquines facing the bullets and the tear gas. The law of the pandero, the rumba, the sandunga hasta abajo continues attentive, ready to oust anyone who does not have what is required to represents its own people.

Rosselló fell because of popular uprising. Read it out loud. Repeat it. Internalize it. It is a fact.

There is no turning back.