SAN JUAN (CBSMiami) – Amid days of protests in Puerto Rico and around the world, a judge issued search warrants on Tuesday for the phones of the government officials who are believed to have been involved in an online chat that ignited political crisis and public uproar in the country.
Overnight, protesters demanding the resignation of the island’s Governor, Ricardo Rosselló, clashed with police.
It happened around midnight.
Video captured a tear gas canister come flying through the air and landing into the back of an SUV.
Tear gas was first deployed by police around 11 p.m. and that sent protesters running.
The Puerto Rico Police Department resorted to force after plastic water bottles were continuously thrown at them, but only a few troublemakers ended up ruining the night for the majority of peaceful people.
Elliott Rivera, a protestor, spoke about why he’s participating.
“No parties, no color, just Puerto Ricans fighting for our rights,” said Rivera.
The front line was filled with very young faces, some as young as 15.
Kania Nunez is 21-years-old.
“I’m here because I have a daughter and she needs a future, a good future with good government. And right now, they are stealing our money,” said Nunez.
Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators kicked off the week by shutting down a major highway and the crowd size was massive.
“Very few people have personally expressed their support in the governor,” said Dr. Jorge Dunay, professor of global and sociocultural studies at Florida International University.
Protesters across the globe, including here in South Florida joined Puerto Ricans in protests. Local protestors gathered on Northwest 2nd Avenue in Miami on Monday and staged their own spirited protest.
Puerto Ricans are frustrated about corruption, the debt crisis and a slow recovery following Hurricane Maria.
They’re also upset about leaked chat messages, where the governor and some of his associates made sexist and homophobic remarks and mocked constituents, including victims of Hurricane Maria.
But what could be in store for Puerto Rico? Behind the scenes, it’s complicated.
“They are looking for someone who is acceptable to those in power the legislature and who could replace Rosselló if he resigns,” said Dr. Dunay. “According to the constitution, the next in line would be the Secretary of State but unfortunately that person has resigned.
“It is highly unlikely that anyone who will succeed Rosselló will be able to gather strength and resources to, for instance, overcome the economic crisis that has gone on for a decade.”
On Monday, Rosselló apologized for the chat language on Fox News. He said he would not run for re-election in 2020, but also made clear he still has no plans to resign.
“We’ve made strides on the economy. And mostly, we’ve made policy changes that are significant for women, for LGBTQ,” said Rosselló. “Everything that was said, I assume responsibility for, I apologize.”
These demonstrations are taking a toll on Puerto Rico’s economy. At least four cruise ships have canceled their stops to the island.
Puerto Rico’s tourism agency estimates a potential loss of around two and a half million tourism dollars.