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How Millennials Took Down Puerto Rico's Governor

How Millennials in Puerto Rico Peacefully and Defiantly Took Down 1 of Their Own

Demonstrators protest in front of the mansion of Puerto Rico's Governor, Ricardo Rossello, known as La Fortaleza, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on July 24, 2019. - Puerto Rico's embattled governor was reportedly preparing to resign Wednesday, yielding to huge street protests in the US territory triggered by the release of a chat exchange in which he and others mocked gays, women and hurricane victims. Huge crowds of Puerto Ricans have been demonstrating regularly since pages and pages of chat exchanges were made public. (Photo by Ricardo ARDUENGO / AFP)        (Photo credit should read RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/Getty Images)

On July 24 and just minutes before midnight, Puerto Rico's governor, Ricardo Rosselló, resigned after two weeks of protests. Rosselló, who was the second-youngest governor elected in Puerto Rico at 37 years old, posted a video on Facebook — in true millennial fashion — and confirmed that his last day as governor would be Aug. 2.

His demise began after a series of messages were leaked by Puerto Rico's Centro de Periodismo Investigativo. In these messages, various government officials, including the governor himself, used offensive language in reference to other politicians, women, journalists, celebrities, and members of the LGBTQ+ community. Worst of all, they mocked those who died as a result of Hurricane María. This was the last straw for a country that felt was being neglected by its government.

What followed were 12 days of protests. Puerto Ricans flooded the streets in every creative way they could. The protests were — for the most part — pacific. Yoga was taught in the mornings and flowers decorated the barricades around Fortaleza, the governor's official home. There was horseback riding in the streets, and kayaks and jet-skis cluttered the San Juan bay. Some even called for a "perreo en Fortaleza," to "spread the message through this native rhythm of Puerto Rico of great popularity and relevance worldwide," and went as far as to create an official playlist on Spotify.

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While watching the news, most reporters would point out that those who stood face to face with police officers were young Puerto Ricans. Millennials were side by side with their favorite artists, the same ones they had listened to while growing up like Ricky Martin, Residente, and Nicky Jam. Bad Bunny was also an important voice and presence during these protests, and many others like Daddy Yankee, Wisin, model Joan Smalls, Chayanne, Olga Tañon, and Ozuna supported the people's efforts in ousting Rosselló. After each day of protest, millennials also made it their task to stay and clean the streets.

All of these efforts were backed up by social media, and scrolling through, thousands and thousands of Puerto Ricans — mainly millennials — were speaking out against the government that had proclaimed itself to be a "millennial" one, with a young governor that appealed to younger voters. Images with the words #RickyRenuncia inundated Instagram's grid and flooded Facebook. In their own way, millennials halted their personal social agendas and took a stance. Similarly to a YouTuber being "canceled" because of their racist past, Puerto Ricans called for the governor to be canceled as well.

This is not to say, however, that other generations didn't participate. But millennials and Gen Z-ers took over the spaces that Rosselló used to reach — and make fun of — his people: social media. Rosselló had an active presence, updating the country with his policies and even sharing some personal news, like the birth of his son in November, 2017. It was also through social media app Telegram, where Rosselló sent the infamous messages that would lead to these protests. While social media, something that's been deemed as a millennial's demise, actually became Rosselló's, it also turned into the propeller to protest against corruption. Puerto Ricans used it to distribute the information like wildfire. It was through social media that we learned that similar protests calling for Rosselló to resign were occurring all over the world, from New York City to Spain.

Millennials, who are too often perceived as entitled, arrogant, and self-centered, worked together as a unit with a bigger purpose — an honest and effective government — and proved all the naysayers wrong, fighting for a better present, and for their children's future.

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