Resignation of Puerto Rico’s governor prompts celebration in North Philly

Bomba drummer Jose Emmannuelli Nater plays for Rochel Rojas as she dances at the celebration of the resignation of Puerto Rican governor Ricardo Rosselló at Fairhill Square in Kensington. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Bomba drummer Jose Emmannuelli Nater plays for Rochel Rojas as she dances at the celebration of the resignation of Puerto Rican governor Ricardo Rosselló at Fairhill Square in Kensington. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

On Friday, Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rosselló officially resigned.

This comes weeks after it was revealed that the governor had participated in sexist, homophobic conversations in a group chat with 11 members of his inner circle. The profanity-laced language was directed at rival politicians and pop culture figures, including members of the media. They also contained a joke about Hurricane Maria, which killed thousands of people on the island in 2017.

To celebrate the resignation, Puerto Rican advocacy groups hosted a celebration at Fairhill Square in North Philly. Dozens of Puertorriqueños sang, danced, played instruments, and gave passionate speeches to celebrate.

Jesse Alejandro, who helped organize the event, said it was a cathartic moment for the people of Puerto Rico.

“I think we just wanted everybody to come out and celebrate this victory, that our voices were finally heard in Puerto Rico after so much pain, after so much hurt. After so many things that has happened.”

The celebration is significant for Philadelphia’s Puertorriqueños, the second-largest Puerto Rican-American population in the country. The diaspora showed solidarity with the island’s efforts to get rid of a leader deemed unfit.

Ana Montañez, with Voces del Barrio, a Philly-based grassroots organization, said the calls for resignation have united Puerto Ricans worldwide toward a common goal.

“Being able to actually get everybody together both here and on the island to work together to get Rosselló to resign, and work together to learn what exactly is going on in Puerto Rico,” Montañez said.

While there is still controversy around the legitimacy of the appointment of former Puerto Rico Secretary of State Pedro Pierluisi, there is optimism about what comes next.

Luis Vazquez, who lives in Strawberry Mansion, sees a bright future.

“I think we have a lot of pride about what happened these last few weeks. You saw how quickly we all came together all over the planet to fix our home,” Vazquez said. “If we get together like that more, nothing can stop us.”

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.