Demonstrators clash with police late Wednesday during a protest in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Thousands have rallied to demand the resignation of Gov. Ricardo Rosello. Photo by Thais Llorca/EPA-EFE
July 18 (UPI) -- Growing demonstrations in Puerto Rico turned violent late Wednesday as thousands in the street demanded the resignation of Gov. Ricardo Rossello stemming from disparaging messages that were leaked to the public.
Riot police used tear gas and rubber bullets, just yards from Rossello's San Juan home. Wednesday was the fifth straight day of protests.
Protesters are calling for a new election to replace Rossello, and denouncing controversial remarks he made in nearly 1,000 pages of chat messages that were leaked this week. His comments have been called homophobic and misogynist.
Demonstrators are also voicing opposition to what they see as a regime tainted by corruption. The FBI arrested several administration officials and contractors over corruption and misappropriation of $15.5 million related to the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in 2017.
"We are tired of the abuse, of so many years of corruption," protester Leishka Flores told CNN. "We are here to make a revolution."
"We were without electricity for six months," protester Graciela Belez, a hospital administrator from San Juan, said. "There was no food in the supermarkets. There was nothing. He was a puppet of the president [Donald Trump]."
The leaked chat messages showed remarks between Rossello and 11 members of his cabinet. Many of the messages were directed at political opponents, and one included a death threat to San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz.
Puerto Rican celebrities have joined the protests, including singer Ricky Martin, who himself was mentioned in the leaked messages.
"We are tired of the cynicism," Martin said. "They put down women, they put down the LGBT community, people with disability. Corruption, it is insane. We are tired. We can't take it anymore."
Reggaton star Bad Bunny, rapper Rene Perez Joglar and actor Benicio del Toro also attended.
Rossello has so far refused calls to resign.