With hundreds of thousands of people in Puerto Rico protesting against the government, elected officials representing Newark's sizable Puerto Rican community said they stood with the residents of the troubled island.
State Sen. M. Teresa Ruiz and Newark North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos Jr. said in a joint statement that the resignation of Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo A. Rosselló is an important step in the process of restoring confidence between the government of Puerto Rico and its residents.
"In the aftermath of one of the most devastating storms that crippled the island, the government should have been a source of support and resources," the statement read. "Instead it has become an entity synonymous with egregious behavior and unconscionable conversations at the expense of Puerto Rican lives."
The protests began last week after offensive messages between the governor and his closest aides were published by Centro de Periodismo Investigativo, an investigative reporting organization in Puerto Rico.
"For far too many years, a number of officials elected and non-elected in charge of various of important public organizations and agencies have violated the public's trust," the statement from Ruiz and Ramos read. "The island has been faced with one setback after another: government corruption and financial mismanagement, a 13-year recession, and austerity measures imposed by the Federal Oversight Board that have resulted in reduction in basic services, high unemployment and the inability of residents to access support from the government to help residents rebuild after the devastating efforts of Hurricane Maria."
Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico on Sept. 20, 2017, devestating the island, leaving some without electrical power for months.
"Residents of the island have had enough. We have family and friends, from children to seniors, who have attended rallies to express their frustration. This is a pivotal moment for Puerto Rico and the government must embrace the voice of the people," Ruiz and Ramos said.
Newark has the sixth largest population of Puerto Ricans of any American city with more than 35,000 residents, according to the 2010 Census.