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South Bend Puerto Ricans rally for island as protests continue

NOW: South Bend Puerto Ricans rally for island as protests continue

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. — As tens of thousands of people prepare to shut down a major highway in Puerto Rico in protest of Governor Ricardo Rosselló on Monday, Puerto Ricans in Michiana plan to rally in support of the U.S. territory. 

For more than a week, Rosselló and his administration have been under fire because of text messages that were leaked earlier this month. 

According to 889 pages of transcript from a private Telegram chat app, Rosselló and members of his bureau made homophobic, misogynistic, and sexist comments and mocked victims of Hurricane Maria. 

People are also upset by a fraud investigation Rosselló’s administration is involved in and the island’s ongoing debt crisis. 

“It’s about confronting these people that for years have stolen our money, have lied to us, [and] have left us to die,” said Laura Ortiz. 

Ortiz is a Notre Dame PhD candidate who helped organize Monday’s rally in South Bend. 

“We know that the people of South Bend care about this community,” said Ortiz. “We wanted to come together and also show our solidarity to the island.” 

Ortiz says they want Rosselló to resign. She adds people are also calling for an end to Puerto Rico’s Fiscal Control Board and PROMESA. 

“I think part of what will happen on a micro level in Puerto Rico will be, again, we can finally take control of our island and advocate more for business in the island, for selecting people who care about it, taking over our educational system,”said Ortiz. “If we think about the macro level at the United States, I think this is a great example of what people can achieve if they stand together against corruption.”

Ortiz was born and raised in Puerto Rico. Her family still lives on the island. 

She says it’s sad to see the situation unfold from thousands of miles away, but she’s happy to see her people and others take a stand. 

“We are American citizens, we are part of this country,” said Ortiz. “We’re members that contribute to this country in many different ways. We’re here among you, we teach your children, I teach your children. It’s time that we come together as a nation. If you’re fighting for the rights of people here, you need to fight for the rights of your sisters and brothers in Puerto rRco because they’re also part of your nation” 

Monday’s rally starts at 6 p.m. and is being held at the John R. Hunt Memorial Plaza. 

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