July 14, 2019

USA: Leaked Private Chat Between Puerto Rico’s Governor And His Executive Team Shakes The Island. Puerto Ricans Are Calling For Governor To Resign. He Fired ALL But 2 Members Of The Chat.

El Nuevo Dia News (English), Puerto Rico
written by Dennis Costa
Saturday July 13, 2019

The full contents of a group chat between Puerto Rico governor Ricardo Rosselló and close associates were publicly disclosed Saturday morning, after several days of partial leaks that have rocked the Caribbean island.

The 889-page document, published by the non-profit journalism group Centro de Periodismo Investigativo and obtained from an anonymous source, details efforts by high-ranking officials and collaborators to manipulate public narrative through mass media, influence public polls to favor the administration, and operate a “troll network” to discredit negative press coverage and criticism from opposition leaders.

The document —which reveals conversations made through the messaging app Telegram from late 2018 to January 20 of this year— also reveals several comments of a sexual, misogynistic and homophobic vein from Rosselló and other members of the chat group, as well as profanity.

Some of the targets of such comments include San Juan mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz; Popular Democratic members Roberto Prats and Eduardo Bhatia, with the latter being a particular target of homophobic comments, as well as members of the Fiscal Oversight Board (FOB), especially its president, José Carrión, and its executive director, Natalie Jaresko.

The chat also targeted El Nuevo Día journalist and columnist Benjamin Torres Gotay and lawyer John Mudd (both of whom were called a “c**ksucker”), CBS news correspondent and anchor David Begnaud, news bloggers Jay Fonseca and Sandra Rodriguez Cotto, and activist groups such as Colectiva Feminista (Feminist Collective), among others.

Former Rosselló gubernatorial campaign manager Elías Sánchez; government chief financial officer and representative to the FOB, Christian Sobrino, and former public affairs secretary Ramón Rosario were among the participants in the group chat. The group also includes chief of staff Ricardo Llerandi; Edwin Miranda, a publicist and owner of KOI, a local advertising firm; Alfonso Orona, a former legal advisor to the governor, and public relations experts Carlos Bermúdez and Rafael Cerame.

Department of State secretary Luis Rivera Marín and recently ousted Treasury secretary Raúl Maldonado also appear in the chat, although in a more tangential capacity, with the most controversial remarks in the chat being mostly attributed to Sánchez, Sobrino, Miranda, and Rosselló himself.

Among the most damning moments in the chat, some of which had already been leaked publicly earlier this week, are efforts to discredit the federally-appointed monitor for the Police Department, Arnaldo Claudio, who left the post under duress last May. On Friday, Claudio revealed that he submitted copies of the group chat as evidence to the FBI, with the intention of kick startingan investigation on the matter.

The chat’s full disclosure generated a swift wave of reactions, including from fellow members of the Rosselló administration. On Saturday, Puerto Rico’s non-voting representative in Congress, Jenniffer González, called for Rosselló to remove himself from running for reelection in 2020, while Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz, himself a target of mockery in the document, called for the removal of all of the chat’s participants from public office.
CBS News
written by Staff
Friday July 12, 2019

San Juan, Puerto Rico -- Puerto Rican Gov. Gov. Ricardo Rosselló was in Europe with his family this week on vacation when his administration took several hits that many believe have tarnished the U.S. territory's reputation and weakened its relationship with the U.S. government. First, the FBI arrested former top officials in his government on corruption charges.

Not long after that, local media published excerpts of a private chat in which he called former New York City Council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito the Spanish word for "whore" and in English told a federal control board overseeing the island's finance to "go f--- yourself" followed by a string of emojis with the middle finger raised.

"I'm the governor of Puerto Rico, but I'm a human being who has his faults," Rosselló said in a press conference late Thursday. "I ask for forgiveness."

Rosselló said he had been working 18-hour days and releasing tensions when he made the comments against the board and Mark-Viverito.

"None of this justifies the words I've written," he said in reference to excerpts from a chat extracted from a messaging system used by government officials that were published by local media. "My apologies to all the people I have offended... This was a private chat."

The comments drew the ire of many Puerto Ricans who said they were ashamed of his language and how it might reflect on a U.S. territory that had already come under scrutiny earlier this week with the arrests of former government officials including the island's education secretary.

Rosselló said he had not yet spoken to Mark-Viverito, who posted a lengthy statement on Twitter that read in part, "A person who uses that language against a woman, whether a public figure or not, should not govern Puerto Rico ...this type of behavior is completely unacceptable."

In the chat, Rosselló wrote he was upset that Mark-Viverito had criticized Tom Perez, chair of the Democratic National Committee, for supporting statehood for Puerto Rico.

Those who participated in the chat included Ricardo Llerandi, Puerto Rico's Chief of Staff, Christian Sobrino, executive director of Puerto Rico's Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority; and Ramón Rosario, former public affairs secretary. Rosselló said the entire chat, which has not been released publicly, has since been erased and that he doesn't know who leaked part of it.

Rosselló spoke a day after FBI agents arrested Julia Keleher, Puerto Rico's former education secretary, and five other people on charges of steering federal money to unqualified, politically connected contractors.

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