The new unrest was triggered by the recent discovery of a warehouse in the southern part of the island that was full of emergency supplies, some dating back to before Hurricane Maria in 2017. But that was just the last straw for people who were shaken by a round of devastating earthquakes earlier this month, and who say the government has mismanaged emergency responses for years.
Despite heavy rain, hundreds turned out in protest at Gov. Wanda Vázquez’s official residence on Thursday night and stepped up the revolutionary imagery:
Protesters are demanding resignation and even jail time for Vázquez and other top government officials. The territory’s former housing secretary, who was fired last weekend, claimed earlier this week that the governor knew about the unused aid.
This is the second time in less than a year that anti-government protests have rocked Puerto Rico. In July, protesters successfully forced the resignation of Vázquez’s predecessor, Ricardo Rosselló, over a trove of scandalous text messages, allegations of corruption, and frustration at the territory’s finances, not to mention a lack of control over those finances.
Thus far, Vázquez—who’s up for re-election in November—downplayed the protests. “We cannot allow groups with other interests to divert our attention,” the governor said Wednesday. “We’re in a moment of helping people in the south, not of creating controversy.”