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Why Bad Bunny Wants Puerto Rican Youth to Take the Streets

The Latin trap star joins Ricky Martin, Residente in demanding the Governor of Puerto Rico step down amid a corruption and private chat scandal.

Coachella in Indio, CA, USA on April 14, 2019.

Bad Bunny urges Puerto Rico's Governor Ricardo Rosselló to resign in new protest track with Residente and iLe

Koury Angelo for Rolling Stone

This summer has seen Bad Bunny hopping from country to country on his long-awaited European tour — which would have included appearances at Barcelona’s annual Sónar festival and Lollapalooza Paris. But late Monday night, while on a break in Ibiza, the Latin trap star tweeted that he was putting the tour on hold to join protestors in Puerto Rico this Wednesday. Using the hashtag #RickyRenuncia, Bad Bunny and thousands of other Puerto Ricans have called for the resignation of Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló, who is currently embroiled in a corruption scandal.

“For years, decades, the system has taught us to stay quiet,” said Bad Bunny in one of two Instagram videos posted late Monday night. “They’ve made us believe that those who take to the streets to speak up are crazy, criminals, troublemakers. Let’s show them that today’s generations demand respect […] The country doesn’t belong to them, it belongs to all of us.”

Wednesday marks the fifth day of protests in Puerto Rico calling for Rosselló’s resignation. Demonstrations began Monday night, after Puerto Rico’s Center for Investigative Journalism published almost 900 pages of a private chat between the governor and 11 aides and members of his cabinet, which were leaked from the Telegram app. The chat logs disclose sexist, homophobic insults and crude remarks, which mock colleagues and political adversaries alike; other targets include stars like Ricky Martin, local activists, and even victims of Hurricane María. Just last week, two former members of Rosselló’s administration were among those arrested by the FBI on 32 charges of federal corruption, which include laundering $15.5 million in federal contracts under his tenure: Julia Keleher, his former secretary of education, and Angela Avila Marrero, former executive director of the Puerto Rico Health Insurance Administration.

“Corruption is a social evil. It’s a social evil in the in the private sector, it’s a social evil in local government and it’s a social evil in the federal government,” an embattled Rosselló said in a press conference on Tuesday morning. The conference followed a chaotic night of demonstrations outside his mansion in Old San Juan, where police were seen spraying tear gas at kneeling protestors. Although he apologized for the insults and offensive comments made in the chat, Rosselló has insisted that he will not resign. “I have not committed illegal acts,” he told reporters, “I committed improper acts.”

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The arrests and the #TelegramGate controversy have heightened Puerto Ricans’ malcontent, especially after years of economic turmoil under the U.S.-appointed Fiscal Management and Oversight Board — which have lead to the closing of hundreds of public schools and put additional strain on government services. Rosselló’s administration has also been indifferent to feminist groups’ calls to address the alarming number of femicides and domestic violence in the island. Organized by the feminist group Colectivo Feminista en Construcción and labor union Sindicato Puertorriqueño de Trabajadores — with additional support from Bad Bunny and Puerto Rican MC Residente — Wednesday’s protest is slated to be bigger than Monday night’s and will kick off 5 p.m. local time at the Capitol building in San Juan.

 

Together with singer-songwriter iLe, the two urbano stars released a surprise track on Wednesday morning in support of the march. It’s not the first time Bad Bunny and Residente have confronted the island’s head of state: In January, the duo showed up unannounced to the governor’s mansion in the wee hours of the morning, to address the island’s high crime rate. Back then, they only had diplomatic words for Rosselló; but in their brand new track “Afilando Los Cuchillos”, or “Sharpening The Knives,” Bad Bunny shares his most politically incisive commentary yet. “Let all the continents know that Ricardo Rosselló is an incompetent, homophobic liar,” spits Bunny in Spanish: “A delinquent, no one wants you…not even your own people.”

Ricky Martin, who also plans to attend the protest, has been instrumental in galvanizing Puerto Ricans into action. Already involved in post-María recovery efforts, and most recently outspoken about anti-LGBT legislation, the pop star posted a heartfelt video on Twitter Tuesday night, demanding that Rosselló step down. “Puerto Rico has already suffered a lot and we can’t stand the cynicism of these so-called leaders anymore,” said Martin. “Please, Puerto Rico, don’t be scared. Join us.”

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