Protesters in Puerto Rico Call for Governor's Resignation After Aid Found in Warehouse
Hundreds of protesters in Puerto Rico demonstrated outside the governor's mansion and capitol building in San Juan, calling on Governor Wanda Vazquez to resign. The protest stems from a video showing tons of disaster relief supplies -- some of it from Hurricane Gloria in 2017, that was discovered in a warehouse. A video of a crowd storming the warehouse went viral on social media last week, leading to nationwide outrage.
“We have to get rid of all the corrupt officials,” said Mari Rivera, a government employee who said that Gov. Wanda Vazquez "needs to stop blaming others and show her face.”
About 600 people banged on pots and some waved Puerto Rican flags as one of them yelled into a bullhorn, “Wanda, turn over the disaster supplies!”
Evangelical preacher Ramón Marrero, who drove up from the southern coastal town of Guayama with his wife and daughters, said they came “to show our indignation, our annoyance, our rebellion.”
The scene reminded many of the beginning of protests that escalated over the summer and led to the resignation of former Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, with demonstrators once again vowing to remain in the streets until Vázquez also steps down.
Rossello was forced out after private chats with close associates were leaked, painting an unflattering portrait of the governor.
But this is a far more serious situation, with questions swirling around the unused supplies. Vazquez fired two more emergency management officials and a special investigation ordered by the governor recommended further study.
But do people trust anyone in government to get to the truth?
Officials said a preliminary report on the investigation was completed late Monday, and Vázquez said she was turning it over to the island's Justice Department for a more in-depth probe based on the recommendation of Puerto Rico's Special Investigations Bureau.
Yet to be determined is whether there are any other warehouses full of aid that got lost in the paperwork shuffle.
Vázquez has warned that the incident would further erode the U.S. government's trust in Puerto Rico, which is still awaiting millions of dollars in federal aid for Hurricane Maria amid concerns of corruption and mismanagement.
Underlining that concern, Ben Carson, secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, tweeted Sunday that “the news out of Puerto Rico is disturbing, to say the least.”
“In order for healing to begin, the corruption must end. This further underscores the importance of the reforms and financial controls we put in place to ensure these resources reach those who need them most,” he added.
Vazquez will probably have to name an independent commission of some kind with little or no government participation.
Trump's fears of corruption and mismanagement were portrayed as "racist" in the media. What are they saying now?