Chicagoans react to Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello announcing his resignation

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago's Puerto Rican community reacted Thursday to the overnight announcement that Governor Ricardo Rossello will resign on August 2.

In the heart of the city's Puerto Rican community, there was hope in the air. At cafes along Division Street, Puerto Rican flags fly with a greater sense of pride that the massive protests in San Juan worked.

"The best thing he did for Puerto Rico was to resign," said Enrique Borges. "He was a disgrace, he was not honest."

"I think that people are really up to here with all the corruption," said Zoraida Tanon, restaurant owner.

Tanon was born on the island, and has owned her Chicago restaurant for 30 years. She watched the protests in San Juan with amazement.

"I think it was wonderful, because there was no incident at all," she said.

Among those who joined the protests was former congressman Luis Gutierrez, who is now a resident of Puerto Rico.

"What we saw is the most beautiful, peaceful kind of revolution I have ever seen or experienced personally," he said.

Ricardo Rossello released a late night video message on Facebook saying he felt he could no longer remain in power after a massive uprising and looming impeachment proceedings.

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Protests that have filled the streets of Puerto Rico for almost two weeks suddenly turned into celebrations as Governor Rossello announced he will resign.

Upon the news, demonstrators in San Juan erupted in cheers. People took to the streets Puerto Rico's capital after the publication of hundreds of offensive group messages between Rossello and his inner circle. The messages were laced with profanity as well as homophobic and sexist language, even jokes about the victims of Hurricane Maria.

"The people are definitely fed up and the fact that a million Puerto Ricans decided to march to the capital, to San Juan, to protest to get the corrupt governor out of office says a lot," said Carlos Jimenez Flores, Puerto Rican high school mentor.

Lucy Plaza said she and her husband were getting on a flight back to Puerto Rico Thursday morning to celebrate news of the governor's decision to step down.

"I am very, very happy that this is happening because this is what Puerto Rico needs. We need someone to govern and someone that is not doing things that are bad for our people in Puerto Rico," Plaza said. "Once I get there, we will start celebrating with everyone."

Plaza said she was in Puerto Rico Monday and saw the protests unfolding.

Several of the governor's aides have already resigned due to the fallout from the scandal. Many say the messages were the last straw after Puerto Rico's debt crisis, corruption charges and slow recovery from Hurricane Maria.

"I feel like people in Puerto Rico just want peace on the island and want things to get better," said Francisco Montes. "I feel that this is a step forward in going in that direction."

Meanwhile, his successor would be the Secretary of Justice Wanda Vasquez, but she faces a tough road ahead. As the territory's top law enforcement official, she's been under fire for her reluctance to confront problems in the current administration.

"I think she should be out," Borges said. "There's no trust there."

Rosello's resignation will take effect at the end of next week.

Chicago has a rich Puerto Rican community and the vast majority of Puerto Ricans living here call Humboldt Park home.

Chicago's "Little Puerto Rico," famously known as Paseo Boricua, is located along Division Street and between Western and California Avenues. A giant Puerto Rican flag, made of rippling steel, proudly arches over the street as a gateway to the community.

The 2010 census counted approximately 102,703 Puerto Ricans living in Chicago, or 3.8 percent of Chicago's population.
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