SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — After more than a week of protests in Puerto Rico over the governor's derisive language in leaked group messages, cheers erupted across the island overnight after Gov. Ricardo Rosselló announced on Facebook that he will step down.
- Puerto Ricans protested over leaked profane chat by governor
- Over Facebook video, he said he would step down August 2
- WATCH IT: Gov. Ricardo Rosselló Announces His Resignation Via Facebook ▼
The alleged profanity-laced, crude messages leaked were between the governor and 11 top aides and Cabinet members. The messages total almost 900 pages, which included jokes about Hurricane Maria victims and contained profane, homophobic, and misogynistic language.
As a result, thousands of people have been protesting in the streets of Puerto Rico.
During the overnight hours, Rosselló used Facebook to announce that he is stepping down in an almost 14-minute speech.
He also discussed the $7 billion deficit from Hurricane Maria and his creation of the Inspector General's Office to deal with corruption.
"Despite having the mandate of the people who elected me democratically, today I feel that remaining in this position represents a difficulty to continue the success that's been reached," Rosselló said.
His resignation is effective Friday, August 2, he said.
The announcement comes as Puerto Ricans celebrate Constitution Day on Thursday. Rosselló said one of the reasons why he's stepping down is in honor of the constitution.
The profanity-laced messages in the private group chat that sparked the protests were about fellow politicians, members of the media, celebrities and others. Rosselló allegedly joked about the growing piles of dead bodies at the morgue in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.
Members of the congressional delegation say the focus now must be moving forward and restoring confidence in elected officials.
"It's been hard, frankly, to get anything done around here on Puerto Rico as long as this crisis is hanging over them with the governor," said U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). “By moving on, hopefully we'll have more stability, and it will give us a chance to do more on their behalf."
U.S. Rep. Darren Soto, whose district covers parts of Central Florida, is the first Puerto Rican from Florida in Congress and a member of the House Natural Resources Committee with jurisdiction over Puerto Rico. He says Rosselló’s resignation is "key to begin to restore confidence."
Soto said in a released statement that he looks forward to working with the new governor to fix the Medicaid crisis and fight for disaster relief funds.
Puerto Rican Secretary of Justice Wanda Vazquez is likely to become the next governor.