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As Protests in Puerto Rico Turn Violent, Lin-Manuel Miranda Joins Call for Governor's Resignation

Puerto Rican celebrities mentioned in the governor's leaked chats are now speaking out against him

What to Know

  • Lin Manuel-Miranda is joining the growing chorus of celebrities demanding the governor of Puerto Rico resign over a private chat scandal
  • The "Hamilton" creator plans to join protests in NYC's Union Square Wednesday, while other performers will protest in Old San Juan
  • The governor has refused to step down, saying in part, "I have not committed any illegal acts, I only committed improper acts"

"Hamilton" creator Lin-Manuel Miranda joined the burgeoning protests demanding the governor of Puerto Rico resign amid a private chat messages scandal that have sparked violence on the island.

The Broadway bigshot was in attendance at the rally in Union Square Wednesday afternoon to help the cause, which featured about 200 people, many of whom were from the island. They waved Puerto Rican flags and followed him to a drumbeat, chanting in Spanish, "Viva Puerto Rico libre," which translates to "Long live free Puerto Rico."

"This is bigger than a political party, the governor's lost the confidence and every step he takes now should be about the peaceful transition of power and getting out of office," Miranda said at the event.

Down in Puerto Rico, tensions were rising as the night went on, with angry and chanting crowds coming face to face with police equipped with riot gear, with violent clashes reported. Old San Juan was filled with cries from demonstrators demanding the resignation.

A few protesters threw fireworks towards police officers just before midnight Wednesday. The officers then returned fire with what appeared to be tear gas, and dispersed the crowd with pellet guns.

It wasn't immediately clear how many people were injured.

Miranda is among a growing list of celebrities, Puerto Ricans and others calling for Gov. Ricard Rosselló to step down after a weekend leak of an 889-page chat revealed sexist, racist, homophobic and violent comments by the governor and his team about opponents as well as members of Rosselló's own party.

The governor refused to step down, saying Tuesday, "My primary responsibility with the people in Puerto Rico is making sure that services continue, that we have continuity in government and that we can assure that all commitments that are being done and the services that must be delivered, will be delivered. I have not committed any illegal acts, I only committed improper acts."

The calls are being led by celebs like Lin Manuel Miranda in NYC and Rickie Martin, who was the subject of anti-gay rhetoric from the Puerto Rican governor. The politician also insulted former NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who has joined the calls for him to step down. NBC 4 New York’s Marc Santia reports.

The leaked chats, which follow separate allegations of corruption that have rocked the island, also included references to Miranda and other Puerto Rican star performers including Ricky Martin and Bad Bunny. All three are firing back at the governor and calling for his resignation. Martin, Bad Bunny and other prominent Puerto Rican artists will join what are expected to be tens of thousands of protesters marching in Old San Juan on Wednesday, while Miranda helps headline the protest in New York City.  

Also making an appearance at the Union Square rally was former NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who was the target of one of Rosselló's sexist remarks. She said that an apology from him is not enough, and he needs to step down.

Here is how those celebrities got caught up the leaked chat scandal, through no fault of their own, and how they have responded.

Ricky Martin:
The “Livin’ La Vida Loca” singer was denigrated in the chats by one of Rosselló’s top officials.

The administration's former chief financial officer, Christian Sobrino, leveled homophobic and machista slurs against the international superstar, who’s openly gay, married and is the father of three children.

Sobrino questioned and mocked the singer’s sexual orientation by saying Martin preferred to have sex with men over women because “women don’t live up to the expectations.”

On Saturday, shortly after the chat was published, Martin reacted by tweeting “your conduct is not a result of an error or inexperience, it has been a conscious and deliberate act, totally irresponsible and that attempts against human rights [...] Act with true generosity, courage and love for Puerto Rico and cede your post to another person with the wisdom and leadership to lead our fate as a country."

Martin later said in a video posted on Twitter Tuesday night that he planned to join protests on Wednesday at 5:00 p.m. 

In the video, Martin invited others to peacefully march from the Capitol to Fortaleza, the governor's mansion in Old San Juan. 

"Tomorrow at 5:00 p.m. I'm going to be with you. I'm going to walk with my people [...] We're going to let Ricardo Rosselló know that we don't want him in power, that we're tired and we can't deal with these leaders' cynicism anymore," he said.

Bad Bunny:
Trap singer Bad Bunny, internationally known for songs like “Estamos Bien” and “La Romana,” is also planning to join protests after being mentioned in the chat.

Sobrino made a joke about Bad Bunny’s surprise visit back in January with Gov. Rosselló and Puerto Rican singer and songwriter Residente, co-founder of Calle 13. The former CFO talked about their visit while also ridiculing a feminist group, Colectiva Feminista. The group was outside the governor’s mansion and was never granted a meeting to discuss a gender violence crisis in the island that last year took the lives of 23 women.

“Residente and Bad Bunny > Colectiva?” CFO Sobrino said in the chat.

Bad Bunny, whose real name is Benito Martínez, recently said both he and Residente were drunk in Old San Juan and decided to visit Rosselló at 2:00 a.m. The governor welcomed them both. The artists then shared a picture of their meeting on Instagram.

On Wednesday morning, both singers released a song blasting Gov. Rosselló on YouTube. "Afilando los cuchillos" ("Sharpening the knives") slams Rosselló over the corruption scandal in his administration and what they called hatred-filled comments from him and the other 11 members of the chat, his closest allies. 

Martínez was touring in Europe when the scandal first broke but the trap sensation since returned to Puerto Rico.

“I’m going to the island and I’d love if you join me and the people already in the streets. These people (the government) think we’re scared and we’ll demonstrate them that they’re wrong,” he tweeted.

The artist, born and raised in Vega Baja, Puerto Rico, said on Sunday that he believes in forgiveness “but one thing is to forgive and another one to let them step on us.”

Lin-Manuel Miranda:
Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, actor and lyricist Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator and star of Broadway’s hit musical “Hamilton,” was indirectly mentioned in the chat early January when his show was rescheduled and relocated from the Theater of the University of Puerto Rico to the Centro de Bellas Artes in Santurce, a borough in San Juan. The "Hamilton" show in Puerto Rico was an effort to promote art and help the island in its recovery after Hurricane Maria in September 2017.

In the chat, former CFO Sobrino shared a news article announcing the cancellation of the show at the theater of the university, to which the governor replied with an angel emoji. Carlos Bermúdez, the governor’s former media consultant, then said “Operation RR,” appearing to insinuate the governor was behind the decision.

On Tuesday, Miranda shared an opinion piece by Puerto Rican journalist Julio Ricardo Varela on Twitter with the hashtag #RenunciaRossello (Rosselló, resign).

Lin-Manuel’s father Luis Miranda told NBC that “it’s sad [...] these were a bunch of teenagers claiming credit for something that, quite frankly, they had nothing to do with.”

Luis Miranda said the producers of "Hamilton" in Puerto Rico decided to change the venue due to security reasons, primarily because the University's workers union was planning to protest because of the economic crisis that's hitting the public college. Furthermore, there’s a law that doesn’t permit the police to intervene in the campus, and that was enough cause for concern.

“Although we couldn’t stay there (at the University of Puerto Rico), to have been able to invest $1 million for the university to have a theater of top category [...] we’re proud of everything that we’ve done for the university, which has been the cornerstone of Puerto Rico’s development for many generations and it must be for generations to come, too,” he said.

Lin-Manuel Miranda tweeted on Monday that “#HamiltonPR was a triumph. We did what we set out to do: raised 15 million for arts on the island, gave the tourism economy a boost—AND we rebuilt the UPR theater. While the governor and his buddies tried to claim some credit for it in their sad little chat.”

“And the bigger picture is this: the Hamilton falsehoods in these documents are a minor subplot in a far larger, very disturbing portrait of how this Administration operates,” Miranda said.

-- Reporting by Cristian Arroyo-Santiago

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