Bay Area Puerto-Rican community celebrates Governor Ricardo Roselló’s resignation

‘Our people are waking up in such a wonderful and decisive way’

“We want to celebrate the audacious and relentless fight of Puerto Ricans who stood up against Ricardo Roselló,” Jose Solis said.

As the president of the Club Puertorriqueño de San Francisco, a social club for the Puerto-Rican community in San Francisco, Solis sees the resignation of Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Roselló, which is effective on Friday, as a chance to bring people together.

He organized a free “cheers to victory” event Saturday on Mission Street in Bernal Heights, and hopes that the hundred people he expects will “show the force” and demonstrate support.

The gathering is expected to draw people from around the Bay Area. Solis had previously planned the event for Friday, but rescheduled to Saturday for a better turnout after many Puerto-Ricans told him it was too complicated to drive in San Francisco on a Friday.

“It’s amazing. Our people are waking up in such a wonderful and decisive way. We took so much shit for so many years and now it’s over,” said Erwin Calderon, 61, a chemist at Pax Lab, who plans to attend Saturday’s celebration.

Calderon flew to Puerto Rico on July 17th, the day Puerto Rico’s Center for Investigative Journalism published leaked Telegram messages revealing Roselló’s homophobic and misogynistic messages about politicians, journalists and celebrities. He also took part in the subsequent demonstrations before leaving on July 22nd.

“When a governor tells that someone is a whore and jokes about it, we cannot stand it. That was the trigger,” said Calderon, referring to how Roselló described City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito in a leaked Telegram message.

Pressured by the throngs of demonstrations, Roselló agreed to resign on Wednesday July 24th, effective on August 2nd.

The celebration event at the Club Puertorriqueño de San Francisco is the next in a series of past meetings and demonstrations in support of Governor Ricardo Roselló’s resignation in the Bay Area.

Around 50 Puerto-Ricans from the Bay Area also celebrated last Saturday at a potluck picnic in Oakland. Many of those attending said they had never seen such a unified crowd.

Denise Solis Cepeda, a member of the Bay Area for a sustainable Puerto Rico, called for support from the Puerto Ricans in the Bay Area.

“Our people achieved an incredible victory. We are here and we are not going anywhere,” said Solis Cepeda in an introduction to her speech.

She also demonstrated in front of City Hall in San Francisco to demand Roselló’s resignation on July 17th, and the day after at Lake Merritt in Oakland along with other Puerto-Ricans.

“We could feel the passion in the streets,” remembers Melba Maldonado, La Raza Community Resource Center Executive Center, who also took part in the protest at City Hall.

Carmen Melindez-Lugo, a 56-year-old medical interpreter and a former member of the Club Puertorriqueño de San Francisco, said the push for unification is revivifying after she felt “alienated” by years of shrinking involvement in the Bay Area

“This movement is different,” said Katherine Adames-Rodriguez, 37, a teacher in Oakland and an activist for 15 years.

Even 3,600 miles away, Solis Cepeda argued she has a role in the near future of the island and will “pressure our government leader.”

“The resignation was the first step,” said Solis Cepeda.

A “Solidarity and Spirit Celebration” will take place Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019 at 3 p.m. at 3249 A Mission St. The event is free, and those attending are encouraged to bring a dish to share.

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