Puerto Ricans block major highway in protest of governor

Puerto Ricans block major highway in protest of governor
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Protesters in San Juan, Puerto Rico, are blocking a major highway as part of their demonstrations demanding the resignation of Gov. Ricardo Rosselló (D).

Videos widely shared on social media show thousands of protesters massing on the highway as pressure continues mounting on Rosselló to resign.

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Rosselló has refused to step down as governor, but on Sunday he announced he will not seek reelection in 2020. The governor also stepped down as head of his local party, the New Progressive Party.

But the governor's effective retirement from electoral politics was not enough for protesters, who have taken to the streets for more than a week demanding his ouster.

Rosselló has been called on to resign from within his party, by opposition leaders on the island and by a wide range of political leaders throughout the country.

Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro, a former Obama administration Cabinet secretary, became Friday the first of the 2020 Democrats to call for Rosselló's resignation.

Another 2020 contender, Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardGabbard: Trump doesn't have power to use US military for Saudi Arabia's interests Gabbard ramps up Trump criticism: 'We are not prostitutes. You are not our pimp' Overnight Defense: Trump says he doesn't want war with Iran | Pentagon chief calls attack on Saudi oil facilities 'unprecedented' | Administration weighs response | 17th US service member killed in Afghanistan this year MORE (D-Hawaii), went as far as to join the protesters Friday, calling Rosselló a "corrupt governor."

Protesters are incensed at Rosselló over two controversies: a corruption scandal involving two former members of his administration and a personal scandal where private text messages between Rosselló and several of his top lieutenants were leaked to the public.

Rosselló has not been directly implicated in the corruption scandal, where the two former officials are accused of funneling more than $15 million in government contracts to preselected companies.

But Rosselló's involvement in the texting scandal has stained his reputation, as he and his closest collaborators were revealed to personally use condescending, homophobic and misogynistic language against political opponents, hurricane victims and members of the press.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpBusiness, ballots and battling opioids: Why the Universal Postal Union benefits the US Sanders supporters cry foul over Working Families endorsement of Warren California poll: Biden, Sanders lead Democratic field; Harris takes fifth MORE on Monday weighed in on the scandals rocking the island, saying Rosselló is a "terrible governor."

Trump separately took the opportunity to lash out at San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, also a Democrat, who is competing to succeed Rosselló under the Popular Democratic Party banner.

"You have an even worse mayor of San Juan," said Trump about Cruz. "Mayor of San Juan is a horror show.”

Rosselló's political opponents on the island, including Cruz and former New York City Assembly Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito — who was personally insulted by Rosselló in the leaked texts — have been unanimous in calling for the governor's immediate resignation.

Their progressive allies stateside, including House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), have followed suit.

“The residents of Puerto Rico are using their power and holding their elected officials accountable for this alleged corruption and shameful behavior,” Grijalva said in a statement Monday.

The Natural Resources Committee oversees territorial affairs.

But Rosselló's allies in Puerto Rico have also, for the most part, left his camp.

"[The governor] knows what he needs to do," Puerto Rico Senate Majority Leader Carmelo Ríos told The Hill Friday.

"[Rosselló] and his aides put themselves in an indefensible position. This isn't even a political issue, this is about human dignity," said Ríos.