As tensions rise in San Juan, Puerto Rico, following reports of controversial leaked group chats between Gov. Ricardo Rosselló and a number of his advisers and Cabinet members, former Obama administration Housing and Urban Development Secretary and 2020 hopeful Julián Castro was among the first U.S. politicians to call for his resignation.
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“Americans in Puerto Rico are holding Governor @ricardorossello accountable for his disgraceful comments & corruption,” Castro wrote in a tweet Friday. “I stand with the Puerto Ricans in the streets protesting for his resignation. Excessive force against them is not acceptable.”
Castro’s tweet comes after several of his opponents have expressed solidarity with Puerto Rican protesters, but do not match his calls for a resignation.
Hawaii congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard arrived on the island Friday to join protesters in front of the Governor's Mansion, tweeting that ""Hawaii and Puerto Rico share many of the same experiences and stories. I stand with Puerto Ricans demanding change, who have had enough of government corruption, and who deserve a government of, by, and FOR the people. El pueblo unido jamás será vencido. #RickyRenuncia"
Early Saturday, she called on her fellow 2020 presidential candidates to visit San Juan and join the protesters.
"Whichever one of us is elected will be the leader of the Democratic Party," she said in a video on Twitter. "So it's important for us to let Democrats know to let all Americans know that we will stand up against corruption and for the people even when that corruption is within our own ranks."
Join me in calling on all Democrats running for President to come here to Puerto Rico and show support for our fellow Americans here who are taking a stand against corruption. We must stand up against corruption, even when that corruption is within our own ranks. #rickyrenuncia pic.twitter.com/HRN0lsfmYY— Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) July 20, 2019
Meanwhile, the previously-high-profile has gone quiet in the face of the rising tide of vocal opposition, according to the Associated Press. Since July 11, when Rosselló cut short a family vacation in France and returned home to face the growing crisis, the he has made four appearances, all but one in highly controlled situations, the AP reported. His regular 5 a.m. “Good morning!” tweet to followers was last issued on July 8.
Castro also told Buzzfeed while at event in Manchester, New Hampshire that he doesn’t “think that Rosselló can be effective anymore…The way they’ve treated the people of Puerto Rico, the administration has treated the people of Puerto Rico, I believe that he should resign."
Castro’s calls for a resignation comes after days of dramatic protests shutting down streets in San Juan, Puerto Rico, with protesters demanding Gov. Roselló give up his seat after a series of leaked group texts released by the Center of Investigative Journalism revealed Roselló and some of his closest advisers and Cabinet members speaking about female politicians and reporters in misogynistic terms and making jokes about the number of dead bodies in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Gov. Roselló has said he will not resign.
Also on Friday, New York Rep. Nydia Velasquez and Puerto Rico’s Resident Commissioner Jenniffer Gonzalez called for Roselló’s resignation. Gonzalez is a member of the same political party as Roselló and is the island’s highest-ranking representative in Washington DC.
"It is time to give stability to Puerto Rico so that we can continue the reconstruction that was planned before the events of the last weeks and return the credibility of the government of Puerto Rico before the Federal Capital, the financial markets, tourism and the whole world," Velasquez said in an open letter to Roselló. But more importantly, it is time to give peace to a people who need it so much."
"As a representative of the people of Puerto Rico in the federal capital," she continued in the statement. "I can not marginalize myself from the reality we live. Your leadership has been questioned to direct the destinies of the island, as well as our recovery after the hurricane. When that happens, the government, the state, loses strength in its credibility and legitimacy."
I have come to the inescapable conclusion that it is time for the Governor of Puerto Rico to resign.— Rep. Nydia Velazquez (@NydiaVelazquez) July 19, 2019
My full statement is below. pic.twitter.com/huC2NsD3S3
On Thursday, President Donald Trump weighed in on the protests, tweeting “a lot of bad things are happening in Puerto Rico. The Governor is under siege,” before also attacking San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, who was the target of some of the misogynistic messages. Cruz has said she is on the side of the protesters.
Back in January, Castro’s first trip as a presidential candidate was to Puerto Rico. While there he criticized the federal government’s response to the crisis following Hurricane Maria. Two other candidates who have visited Puerto Rico this election cycle are Sen. Warren and Sen. Amy Klobuchar.
Puerto Rico participates in primary elections, but they do not ultimately vote in the November 2020 presidential election.
ABC News' Joshua Hoyos contributed to this report.