"It's just astonishing to see": Puerto Ricans unite in call to have embattled governor resign

Puerto Rican protesters demand Roselló resign

Last Updated Jul 23, 2019 1:10 AM EDT

San Juan, Puerto Rico – Demonstrators shut down the main highway that connects San Juan to the rest of the island Monday in what appeared to be the largest demonstration yet demanding that Gov. Ricardo Rosselló step down. They've been protesting government corruption and leaked chatroom messages in which the governor and his advisers mocked victims of Hurricane Maria.

"Our schools are really poor right now," one teacher told CBS News. "I don't have a job right now because they're closing schools."

"It's really amazing ... it's just astonishing to really see basically the whole Puerto Rico coming together as a whole," a 14-year-old protester told CBS News.

Puerto Rican protesters
People chant slogans as they wave Puerto Rican flags during a protest calling for the resignation of Governor Ricardo Rosselló in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Mon., July 22, 2019. Reuters

Puerto Ricans, already reeling from Hurricane Maria and debt crisis, recently learned that the FBI arrested the former heads of the education and health insurance departments for allegedly funneling money to friends.

And the final straw: a trove of leaked chat messages between Rosselló and top aides. In one exchange, Rosselló's former chief financial officer said, "Don't we have some cadavers to feed our crows?" in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

On Monday, the governor — speaking on Fox News — faced a question he's struggled all week to answer: Whose support do you have?

He named a local major of San Sebastian. That mayor told CBS News he does not support the governor.

Ricardo Rosselló
People in a conference room watch a television broadcast of Puerto Rico's governor Ricardo Rosselló speaking during an interview, after a protest calling for his resignation in San Juan, Puerto Rico on Mon., July 22, 2019. Reuters

Neither does Donald Trump, who said Monday that "he's a terrible governor."

'The U.S. Congress handed them $92 billion and that $92 billion is in the hands of incompetent people and very corrupt people," the president added.

That number is not true. Puerto Rico has received $14 billion in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

Puerto Ricans have their own concerns about how federal aid is being spent and have lost trust in their government.

Late Monday night, police fired tear gas to disperse protesters who remained on the streets of Old San Juan, and there were scattered violent incidents:

WAPA-TV is CBS's sister station, based in San Juan.