Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said he will not seek reelection next year and will step down as head of his party, but will not resign amid calls that he leave office after embarrassing online chats with other officials were leaked and charges of corruption in his administration spread, he announced in a brief video on Facebook Sunday.
“I’ve made mistakes, and I apologize,” Rosselló said during his remarks, according to a translation from BuzzFeed. “To every Puerto Rican man and woman, I have heard you and I hear you today.”
The 40-year-old Democrat, whose administration has struggled to navigate the aftermath of 2017’s Hurricane Maria, drew anger earlier this month after his private chats with other officials were leaked to the media.
The scandal, known as “Chatgate,” involved hundreds of pages of messages between Rosselló and members of his administration in which the men insulted women, people with disabilities and victims of the hurricane.
In one chat, Rosselló called Melissa Mark-Viverito, the former speaker of the New York City Council, the Spanish word for “whore.” In another, he accused San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz of being “off her meds” after she announced her intent to run against him for governor in 2020.
“Either that, or she’s a tremendous HP,” he wrote, using the Spanish acronym for “son/daughter of a bitch.”
Rosselló blamed long working hours for his “hurtful” comments and quickly apologized to those he had offended after his private chats were leaked.
“I’m the governor of Puerto Rico, but I’m a human being who has his faults,” he said during a news conference earlier this month. “I ask for forgiveness.”
But his apology was too little too late for Puerto Ricans fed up with the relentless scandal and hardship that has plagued their community since back-to-back hurricanes ravaged the island in 2017, resulting in thousands of deaths.
Initiatives to restore power to the island were stalled by unlawful contract bids. Budget cuts handed down by Rosselló’s administration prompted school closings and threatened pensions for retirees across the territory.
Earlier this month, Rosselló’s education secretary was arrested after being accused of funneling federal money to unqualified, politically connected contractors. The arrest followed charges against multiple Puerto Rican officials, from current and previous administrations, of corruption and misuse of funds.
Rosselló, a native of San Juan, was sworn in as governor in January 2017. Previously, he served as chair of the Puerto Rico New Progressive Party. He graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2001 with a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering and economics.
His father, Pedro Rosselló, served as the island territory’s governor from 1993 to 2001.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.