bLast Wednesday 100,000 Puerto Ricans protested in San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico, in order to remove governor Ricardo Rosselló. Rosselló and some of his ally politicians in the Puerto Rican government made derogatory remarks within a social media chat which was leaked to the public. The private chat included homophobic and misogynistic comments; the comments also mock the dead victims of hurricane Maria, a deadly 2017 hurricane that killed 2975 residents of Puerto Rico. The humanitarian response to the hurricane from the US government and the Puerto Rican government has been noted for being very weak and ineffective.
The figureheads of the protest movement have been musicians and artists rather than politicians. Shortly before the Wednesday protest three musicians, reggaeton star Benito Martinez Ocasio, rapper Residente and singer Ileana Cabra Joglar released a protest song for the occasion on YouTube; the YouTube song has already been played 3.5 million times.
Another massive protest is happening today, July 22nd, 2019. The island’s largest mall and dozens of other businesses have closed in anticipation of the protests. Ricardo Rosselló made a brief Facebook video in which he apologized for making mistakes and said that he looked forward to defending himself against impeachment. Top government officials involved in the private chat have already resigned from office. This shows the great power of musicians and artists over a society’s culture. It will be fascinating to see how major cultural figures might change Puerto Rico’s political culture in the future.