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.

Hacker Attempts To Steal $4 Million From Puerto Rican Government In Phishing Scam

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Hacker Attempts To Steal $4 Million From Puerto Rican Government In Phishing Scam

John Piekos / Flickr

Hackers attempted to steal $4 million from the Puerto Rican government using a common phishing scam. The scams referred to as business email compromises, target public and private entities every year on the U.S. mainland. Here’s what we know so far.

A hacker attempted to steal millions of dollars from the Puerto Rican government.

Credit: @DavidBegnaud / Twitter

According to reports, hackers were able to infiltrate various agencies in the Puerto Rican government through phishing emails. The hackers attempted to access $4 million dollars by targeting Puerto Rico’s Industrial Development Company and the Tourism Company.

The Industrial Development Company sent around $2.6 million while the Tourism Company wired over $1.5 million. According to the AP, the agencies received emails from a fraudulent employee claiming there was a change of bank accounts.

Federal officials say they were about to freeze the money to prevent loss to Puerto Rico.

David Begnaud of CBS News took to Twitter to update people on the latest developments. According to Begnaud’s conversation with federal authorities, the hackers had not received the money from Puerto Rico and they were able to freeze it. They are working to send the money back to Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico is not the only victim in a phishing crime. During the same time as the hacking of Puerto Rico, a school district in Manor, Texas lost $2.3 million and another $800,000 were stolen from officials in Griffin, Georgia. More than 23,000 of these scams stole $1.7 billion from businesses and agencies in the U.S. mainland last year. The FBI was able to recover around $300 million.

The news is surprising people on social media.

Credit: @MilagsCon / Twitter

Corruption in Puerto Rico’s government has been a topic of discussion since Hurricane Maria devastated the island. Puerto Rico was recently devastated by a series of earthquakes while still recovering from the 2017 hurricane that devastated the island. Missing relief funds and misplaced supplies have angered Puerto Ricans in recent months as it comes to light.

This latest financial and security shortcoming of Puerto Rico’s government is not helping its reputation.

Credit: @J_Fort47 / Twitter

Puerto Ricans have been showing their displeasure with the elected officials on the island for years. Recently, Puerto Ricans protested and marched until Ricardo Rosselló resigned from his office. The former governor was caught in a group chat scandal in which he made derogatory comments about the LGBTQ+ community and women. There were also allegations of corruption and misuse of funds within his admi9nistration that led to a series of investigations.

READ: The Puerto Rico Department of Justice Is Seeking An Independent Investigation Into Ricardo Rosselló

A Warehouse Full Of Forgotten Supplies From 2017 Was Just Found In Puerto Rico After More Than 1000 Earthquakes Hit The Island

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A Warehouse Full Of Forgotten Supplies From 2017 Was Just Found In Puerto Rico After More Than 1000 Earthquakes Hit The Island

@IGD_News / Twitter

Over the past two and a half weeks, Puerto Rico has experienced more than 1000 earthquakes. This number may seem unbelievable, but it’s true: after a 6.7 magnitude earthquake hit the island on January 7—the largest earthquake to hit Puerto Rico in more than a century—aftershocks have continued to jolt the island, leaving hundreds of people homeless, lacking supplies and electricity. Among the aftershocks was January 11’s 5.9 magnitude quake, which caused even further devastation, particularly to the southern part of the island. So far, the earthquakes have cost an estimated $200 million in damages, including the destruction of more than 800 homes.

But the damage hasn’t only been structural—several people are experiencing extreme anxiety as tremors continue to strike the island.

Credit: Facebook / ASSMCA Online

Officials from ASSMCA, Puerto Rico’s  Office of Mental Health Services and Addiction Prevention, have been making their rounds at outdoor shelters where displaced individuals and families have taken refuge, offering mental health support to those most affected by the quakes.

“These aftershocks are triggers for people,” Abdiel Dumeng, an ASSMCA employee, said in Spanish in an interview.”But I have to admit that we’ve seen a decrease in these kinds of crises, because we’ve been working together for a while, teaching people how to stay calm.”

According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), aftershocks will continue to decrease in frequency over the next month and will be exponentially “lower in magnitude”. But in the meantime, Puerto Rico’s Office of Emergency Management estimates that more than 8,000 people are staying in these outdoor shelters—fewer than half are in government-run shelters, while the rest are taking refuge in either informal spaces or shelters run by non-government organizations.

What exactly constitutes an “informal” shelter? Well, some folks have simply taken their beds outside, staying close to home while avoiding the potential dangers of being indoors. Others are crashing with relatives in towns that have experienced less damage than other areas.

Credit: StarTribune

In response to the 5.9 earthquake on January 11, Governor Wanda Vázquez said that she had declared a major state emergency following an initial assessment of the damages incurred. Vázquez also announced the immediate disbursement of $2 million for the towns of Guánica, Utuado, Guayanilla, Peñuelas, Ponce and Yauco, which experienced the most damage due to their proximity to the earthquakes’ epicenter. This $2 million was defined as a way to meet the towns’ most urgent needs—but now, ten days later, la gente está harta, because these needs still haven’t been met.

Just a few days ago, Vázquez fired two high-ranking officials in her administration: Housing Secretary Fernando Gil and Department of Family Secretary Glorimar Andújar. She also fired former Emergency Management Director Carlos Acevedo. The Governor’s reason for the dismissals was an alleged lack of information regarding aid collection and distribution centers.

This lack of information had to do with the discovery of a warehouse in Ponce that was filled with seemingly forgotten disaster supplies. But these supplies were not sent in response to the current crisis—they date back to when Hurricane Maria (a Category 4 storm) hit the island in September 2017.

Credit: Carlos Giusti / Associated Press

And people are understandably angry. On January 20, scores of demonstrators gathered in front of the Governor’s mansion in San Juan to demand her resignation. While the Governor seems to have tried addressing the issue with the dismissals mentioned above, several people are accusing her of not taking accountability for this appalling error, urging her to step down. And with demonstrators vowing to stay in the streets until Vázquez steps down, the current situation looks a lot like last summer’s demonstrations, which ultimately caused Governor Ricardo Rosselló to resign.

When asked by NBC News what the “human impact” of this mistake is, Rafael Gonzalez—President of PROFESA, a Puerto Rican Professional Association that delivered aid during the aftermath of Hurricane Maria—said, “We saw it on [sic] Maria. We saw what happens when you don’t deliver the supplies that people need. People die.”

Indeed, more than 3,000 people died as a result of the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria (not to mention highly insufficient disaster response on the part of the United States government). At this point, the recent series of earthquakes has resulted in one death and nine injuries. In an attempt to keep that number from rising, Jennifer Gonzales, Puerto Rico’s Commissioner to Congress, joined forces with five other members of Congress to send a letter to Donald Trump, asking him to sign a major disaster declaration that would bring federal funding to the recovery effort.

On January 16, Donald Trump responded by designating six hard-hit towns in the southern part of the island as major disaster areas. Hopefully this will result in an appropriate disaster response—one that will not negligently result in more forgotten aid.