Things That Matter

Puerto Ricans Are Celebrating Across The Island And The Country As Governor Finally Announces His Resignation

Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló resigned late Wednesday after Puerto Ricans took to the streets during historic protests calling for him to step down.

Rosselló said he would step down on Aug. 2 “to allow for an orderly transition,” and he will be replaced by Puerto Rico Secretary of Justice Wanda Vázquez.

It’s official, Governor Rosselló has said he’ll resign and leave La Fortaleza next week.

Credit: @cnnbrk / Twitter

The governor made the announcement at close to midnight on Wednesday. He had been expected to resign at 5 p.m. in accordance with an agreement with Puerto Rico’s House of Representatives, but remained silent for hours as protesters gathered, along with a heavy police presence, and tension built on the streets of San Juan.

His resignation came after nearly two weeks of mounting pressure from protesters and legislators on the island and in Washington, and after a series of resignations in his cabinet and staff. His decision came as members of Puerto Rico’s House of Representatives, which is controlled by Rosselló’s own party, told BuzzFeed News they had enough votes and had set a meeting on Thursday to begin impeachment proceedings against him.

The governor had been under pressure to resign after more than 800 pages of leaked chats between Rosselló and his closest advisers were published by the Center for Investigative Journalism on July 13. The messages showed him using misogynistic language, making anti-gay jokes, talking about using public funds to carry out vengeful schemes against political enemies, and making jokes about the large number of deaths caused by Hurricane Maria.

News of his resignation traveled quickly around the island Puerto Ricans took to the streets to celebrate.

Boricuas had been protesting for over a week and on Wednesday it looked like protesters may have lost the battle as reports began circulating that the governor was going to dig in his heels and refuse to resign.

So once word had left La Fortaleza (the governor’s residence), crowds erupted into song, dance, tears, and joy. The battle that had been fighting against a government they no longer trusted, that had hurt so many Puerto Ricans, was finally over.

Many were celebrating the news, which came on the eve of Constitution Day in Puerto Rico, as a new era.

Credit: @andreagonram / Twitter

Puerto Ricans discovered their unity and their common voice in the fight to topple a government that they longer trusted. This is a huge moment not just for Puerto Rico and island politics, but for democracy around the world,

It shows that if a community comes together, they can accomplish huge things.

Residente, who had been attending protests, celebrated Puerto Rico’s success.

Credit: @residente / Twitter

Translation: Thank you Puerto Rico, the happiness that I feel can’t be described. You sent a message of unity and strength but from the heart. Today we discovered that we are united from the heart. Tomorrow at 9am, I’ll see you in the Golden Mile.

Residente, along with Bad Bunny and Ricky Martin, had been attending several protests since they began. Tonight, Residente took to Twitter with full of orgulloso and happiness for his brave, powerful people.

A lot of people on Twitter hoped that this massive act of courage would help inspire a similar outcome on the mainland US.

Credit: @mprlibre / Twitter

Many took this as a sign of encouragement and hope that change is possible. Many were calling for similar movements and protests across the US to unite in the fight for the impeachment of Donald Trump.

While Ava DuVernay gave a shout out to the island for accomplishing something that many thought was impossible.

After news reports started circulating saying that the governor was going to refuse to resign, many began to lose hope. While even at the beginning of the protests many thought they’d they never be able to achieve change with protests. Especially not against a police force that was using tear gas and riot gear against protesters.

But Boricuas proved the world wrong and tonight they’re in the streets celebrating this milestone moment for the island and for democracy around the world.

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Today, Puerto Rico Celebrates Emancipation Day–the Day When the Island Officially Abolished Slavery

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Today, Puerto Rico Celebrates Emancipation Day–the Day When the Island Officially Abolished Slavery

Photo via George W. Davis, Public Domain

Today, March 22nd marks Día de la Abolición de Esclavitud in Puerto Rico–the date that marks the emancipation of slaves in Puerto Rico. In Puerto Rico, enslaved peoples were emancipated in 1873–a full decade after the U.S. officially abolished slavery. But unlike the U.S. mainland, Puerto Rico celebrates today as an official holiday, where many businesses are closed.

The emancipation of Puerto Rican slaves was a very different process than the United States’. For one, the emancipation was gradual and over three years.

When the Spanish government abolished slavery in Puerto Rico 1873, enslaved men and women had to buy their freedom. The price was set by their “owners”. The way the emancipated slaves bought their freedom was through a process that was very similar to sharecropping in the post-war American south. Emancipated slaves farmed, sold goods, and worked in different trades to “buy” their freedom.

In the same Spanish edict that abolished slavery, slaves over the age of 60 were automatically freed. Enslaved children who were 5-years-old and under were also automatically freed.

Today, Black and mixed-race Puerto Ricans of Black descent make up a large part of Puerto Rico’s population.

The legacy of enslaved Black Puerto Ricans is a strong one. Unlike the United States, Puerto Rico doesn’t classify race in such black-and-white terms. Puerto Ricans are taught that everyone is a mixture of three groups of people: white Spanish colonizers, Black African slaves, and the indigenous Taíno population.

African influences on Puerto Rican culture is ubiquitous and is present in Puerto Rican music, cuisine, and even in the way that the island’s language evolved. And although experts estimate that up to 60% of Puerto Ricans have significant African ancestry, almost 76% of Puerto Ricans identified as white only in the latest census poll–a phenomenon that many sociologists have blamed on anti-blackness.

On Puerto Rico’s Día de la Abolición de Esclavitud, many people can’t help but notice that the island celebrates a day of freedom and independence when they are not really free themselves.

As the fight for Puerto Rican decolonization rages on, there is a bit of irony in the fact that Puerto Rico is one of the only American territories that officially celebrates the emancipation of slaves, when Puerto Rico is not emancipated from the United States. Yes, many Black Americans recognize Juneteenth (June 19th) as the official day to celebrate emancipation from slavery, but it is not an official government holiday.

Perhaps, Puerto Rico celebrates this historical day of freedom because they understand how important the freedom and independence is on a different level than mainland Americans do.

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A Judge Has Cleared Former Brazilian President Lula da Silva, Opening Door For Challenge Against Jair Bolsonaro

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A Judge Has Cleared Former Brazilian President Lula da Silva, Opening Door For Challenge Against Jair Bolsonaro

Brazil’s political sphere has been thrown into chaos once again after a judge on the Supreme Court threw out convictions against former president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. The former president, among many others, was tried and convicted in a nationwide corruption sweep but detractors claimed that it was a politically driven campaign against the leftist leader and his supporters.

With his conviction being thrown out, the judge has opened the door to a potential run for the presidency in 2022, against the current president Jair Bolsonaro.

A Supreme Court judge has annulled the criminal convictions against Brazil’s former president, Lula da Silva.

A justice on Brazil’s Supreme Court has annulled corruption convictions against the country’s former leftist president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva — a move that could be the first step toward clearing him to run next year against an increasingly vulnerable President Jair Bolsonaro.

In a surprise decision, Justice Edson Fachin ruled that a court in the southern city of Curitiba did not have the authority to try Lula on corruption charges and that he must be retried in federal courts in the capital, Brasilia.

The decision means Lula would be eligible to run for president next year should he wish to challenge Bolsonaro, said the local newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo.

Hailing the ruling in a Twitter post, Lula said it was “recognition that we have always been correct throughout our legal battle.”

Lula was jailed on corruption charges as part of a national campaign against graft.

The former president, widely known as Lula, who held office from 2003 through 2010, was found guilty in 2017 on corruption and money-laundering charges allegedly for helping a Brazilian engineering company secure lucrative contracts with Petrobras, the country’s state-owned oil company. In exchange, the former president allegedly received a beachfront apartment from the firm. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

The conviction – part of a far-reaching corruption scandal known as Operation Car Wash — knocked the popular Lula out of the 2018 presidential race, where he had hoped to make a comeback. His absence from the race created an opportunity for the novice politician Bolsonaro, a brash right-wing nationalist who has frequently been compared to former U.S. President Donald Trump.

Lula, despite his conviction and sentence, was released from prison in 2019 on grounds that he was denied due process. However, he still faces several other prosecutions.

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