Things That Matter

Puerto Rico Could Be Left Without A Governor As The Woman Next In Line Doesn’t Want The Job

Puerto Ricans have set a shining example of what peaceful political reform and patriotism looks like in a democracy. After two weeks of ongoing protests and a trending hashtag #RickyRenuncia, Governor Ricardo Rossello announced Wednesday, July 24, that he is resigning August 2. Dozens of officials involved in the leaked text message scandal that insulted victims of Hurricane Maria, called San Juan’s mayor “una tremenda hija de puta” and specifically blasted their very own Ricky Martin with homophobic slurs, has left Puerto Rico with few existing options to take Rossello’s seat.

Former Secretary of State Luis Rivera Marín would have been instated as governor, but he has also resigned as complicit in the scandal. The woman next in line would be Secretary of Justice Wanda Vázquez, but Puerto Rico isn’t having it. The very same day as Rossello’s announcement, a new hashtag was born: #WandaRenuncia. Yesterday, she announced that she doesn’t want the job.

Even amidst the #WandaRenuncia protests, Rossello posted this photo op with Vázquez.

@ricardorossello / Instagram

He captioned the photo, “Discussing the transition with the Secretary of Justice, Wanda Vázquez.” If officials ever thought Puerto Ricans were disengaged from politics, it’s clearer than ever that they won’t get away with much anymore.

Puerto Ricans have a list of officials they want ousted, though Vázquez has tried to maintain her innocence in the alleged scandal.

@ajplus / Twitter

Vázquez is under fire from the public for not calling an investigation into the mismanagement of money and supplies for Hurricane Maria victims. On Friday, Vázquez said that much of the complaints are based in misinformation, and that she is legally bound to keep certain cases private.

Vázquez believes that her loss of public favor is due to the “agenda of some” to “destabilize the government.”

@newslink7com / Twitter

“The vicious attacks on my personal and professional integrity continue,” Vázquez said Friday. “The desire and agenda of some to try to undermine my credibility at this moment of transcendental importance to Puerto Rico and to destabilize the governmental order is evident.”

Another massive protest was planned for today, this time against Vázquez.

@ajplus / Twitter

The focus since Rossello’s resignation had already shifted to Vázquez, with Old San Juan sounding like this: “Wanda Vazquez no te vistas que no vas, llevate a la junta, Johnny Mendez y Tomas Rivera Schatz.”

Still, the day before the major protest scheduled, Vázquez announced that she won’t be filling in for Rossello. We’ll see if that’s enough for the Puerto Rican people.

Puerto Ricans feel betrayed by their government and empowered to change it in the largest limpia in Puerto Rican history.

@APESSHIT / Twitter

In fact, it was the FBI that eventually arrested six officials on charges of conspiracy and other crimes involved with the millions of dollars in Medicaid and education funds funneled away from the Puerto Rican people.

Puerto Ricans not only reject Vázquez as Governor–they want her to resign from her current position as well.

Claro, Puerto Ricans are getting creative in their efforts to get Vázquez’ resignation.

@RobbyCortes / Twitter

One Twitter user tries to explain this image: “Creative protests continue. This one is odd to explain but I’ll try in this thread.PRican TV icon and weatherperson @SusanSoltero used social media to call for a mass rolling down El Morro’s hill to call for Wanda Vázquez’s resignation before she becomes governor. #WandaRenuncia”

It’s written on San Juan’s walls, Vázquez: Puerto Rico doesn’t want you anymore.

@viaSimonRomero / Twitter

Many suspect that these protests are much bigger than a simple shift in leadership. It’s a complete government overhaul of the people who are not gente. The RickyLeaks that mocked the deaths of Maria victims has shook la gente, many of whom weren’t ever able to give their family a proper burial amidst the chaos.

Now, Puerto Ricans are warily expecting Rossello to choose his replacement.

@loufor45 / Twitter

With the Secretary of State position left vacant, Rosselló must select a new official, who would then, under Puerto Rican law, would become the governor. After Secretary of State would be the Treasury Secretary. Unfortunately, Puerto rico’s Treasury Secretary Francisco Parés is four years too young to become Governor.

Interim Education Secretary Eligio Hernández is expected to be tapped by Rosselló.

@PulsoEST / Twitter

Hernández replaced former education secretary Julia Keleher, who resigned after her arrest on federal corruption. That would mean that Hernández would be the fourth in line. Will Puerto Rico accept him? Vamos a ver.

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

Using Social Media, Russia Is Accused Of Being Behind The Massive Protests Across Latin America

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Using Social Media, Russia Is Accused Of Being Behind The Massive Protests Across Latin America

Marcelo Hernandez

For months now, Latin America has been facing a political crisis as country after country has seen massive populist protest movements that have destabilized the region. From Chile to Puerto Rico, Bolivia to Ecuador, governments have struggled to respond to growing inequality – which has forced millions of Latinos to take to the street.

Many of these protest movements lack obvious leadership but they do share a few common threads. For one, they want to see more government accountability and actions against corruption. They also share a desire to fight growing income inequality which has stifled economic development for the region’s most vulnerable populations.

Now, a new report has tied many of these massive protest movements to Russian bots – which are seen as instigating and magnifying the region’s unrest.

The US has reportedly tied Russian bots to increased protest movements across Latin America.

Although the protest movements across Latin America share a few common threads, the majority of them are overwhelmingly different. In Chile, protests started over a planned increase in public transport fares. In Bolivia, it was against alleged voter fraud by then-President Evo Morales. In Puerto Rico, it was to fight back against alleged corruption and to hold leaders accountable for homophobic and misogynistic texts.

According to the US State Department, however, they’ve identified one theme they all seem to have in common: Russian interference.

In Chile, nearly 10 percent of all tweets supporting protests in late October originated with Twitter accounts that had a high certainty of being linked to Russia. While in Bolivia, tweets associated with Russian-backed accounts spiked to more than 1,000 per day – up from fewer than five.

And in Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Colombia and Chile over one 30-day period, Russia-linked accounts posted strikingly similar messages within 90 minutes of one another.

Senior diplomats from the US believe that Russia’s goal may be to increase dissent in countries that don’t support Maduro’s presidency in Venezuela.

Russia’s alleged campaign to help tap support for Maduro’s regime has resulted in mixed reviews. It’s not obvious how successful the campaign has been.

With the support of more than 50 other countries, the Trump administration has imposed bruising economic sanctions against Mr. Maduro’s government in Venezuela over the last year. The coalition is backing Juan Guaidó, the leader of the Venezuelan opposition, whom most of Latin America and the rest of the West views as the country’s legitimate president.

Russia is working to expand its presence in Latin America, largely at Washington’s expense.

The US State Department frequently keeps tabs on Twitter traffic worldwide to monitor for potentially dangerous activities, like the proliferation of fake pages and user accounts or content that targets the public with divisive messages

“We are noting a thumb on the scales,” said Kevin O’Reilly, the deputy assistant secretary of state overseeing issues in the Western Hemisphere. “It has made the normal dispute resolutions of a democratic society more contentious and more difficult.”

Souring attitudes toward the United States throughout the region over trade and immigration issues, the rise of populist candidates, and the deepening internal economic and social challenges facing many Latin American countries create favorable circumstances for Russia to advance its interests.

About a decade ago, it became obvious that Russia was launching an online campaign to destabilize the region using new technology and social media.

There are Spanish-language arms of two Russian-backed news organizations that have been found to spread disinformation, conspiracy theories and, in some cases, obvious lies to undermine liberal democratic governments.

According to one state-financed group, RT Español, they’ve reached 18 million people each week across ten Latin American counties and have more than a billion views on YouTube. This is huge liability for the truth.