July 24, 2019 at 10:13 pm PDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Embattled Puerto Rico governor resigns

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, center, talks about bills that would have banned so-called conversion therapy and protect religious freedom in the U.S. commonwealth during a press conference at his official residence in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on April 23, 2019. Rosselló on July 24, 2019, after a series of homophobic and misogynistic messages between him and members of his administration became public. (Photo courtesy of Adlyn Torres/La Fortaleza)

Embattled Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló on Wednesday announced his resignation.

Rosselló in his long awaited speech from La Fortaleza, his official residence, noted his efforts to support LGBT Puerto Ricans as among his administration’s accomplishments. Rosselló said his resignation will be effective as of Aug. 2 at 5 p.m.

“I know that I have finished my work,” he said.

His announcement comes less than two weeks after Puerto Rico’s Center for Investigative Journalism published 889 pages messages he and several members of his administration sent to each other on the messaging app Telegram.

These messages, among other things, contained homophobic and misogynistic comments against Ricky Martin and San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz. Martin is among the hundreds of thousands of people who took part in a protest against Rosselló on Monday that shut down one of San Juan’s main expressways.

Rosselló on Sunday announced he would not seek re-election and resign as chair of the pro-statehood New Progressive Party.

“In this historic gesture, our dignified people have recognized and used their power wisely,” said Pedro Julio Serrano, founder of Puerto Rico Para Tod@s, a Puerto Rican LGBT advocacy group, in a statement shortly after Rosselló announced his resignation. “It was used with the most solidarity, prudence, creativity, firmness and hope.”

Cruz, a vocal champion of LGBT rights who is running for governor, in a tweet echoed Serrano.

“Honored to be part of a country where people are fearless and take to the streets in a true act of hope and dignity,” tweeted Cruz. “This has just begun. VIVA PUERTO RICO.”

Wilfred Labiosa, executive director of Waves Ahead, a group that continues to help LGBT Puerto Ricans recover from Hurricane Maria that devastated the island in 2017, also welcomed Rosselló’s resignation. Labiosa also told the Blade he supports investigations into alleged corruption in Rosselló’s administration.

“I’m exhausted, but excited that the governor listened to the citizens of Puerto Rico,” said Labiosa. “Democracy at its best! We were heard.”

Bear Tavern PR, a gay bar in San Juan’s Ocean Park neighborhood that reopened eight days after Maria made landfall, also supported calls for Rosselló to resign.

“These three flags unite us,” reads an illustration posted to its Facebook page on Monday with the Puerto Rico, LGBT and Bear flags and a hashtag that calls for Rosselló to resign. “For a better Puerto Rico. For a Puerto Rico for everyone.”

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Los Angeles Blade. Follow Michael

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