Protests in San Juan Continue as Cruise Ships Return

Protesters read Puerto Rico's constitution aloud, Old San Juan, July 23 (Michael / Twitter)

By The Maritime Executive 07-24-2019 09:09:53

Puerto Rico's legislature has begun the process of removing Gov. Ricardo Rossello from office, acceding to the demands of demonstrators who have filled the streets outside the capitol building in Old San Juan for days. The disruption led to canceled port calls for multiple cruise ships and an estimated loss of revenue for the local economy of at least $2.5 million.

In addition to cancellations last week, the MSC Seaside and the Celebrity Equinox skipped port calls in San Juan on Monday. Arrivals resumed Tuesday with the Anthem of the Seas and Carnival Conquest, and no cancellations have been reported for the remainder of the week, according to the publicly-owned Puerto Rico Tourism Company (PRTC).

"The economic impact of cruise ship stops canceled to date could be estimated at around $ 2.5 million due to the [loss] of approximately 15,000 passengers," warned the PRTC on Monday. 

The protests have centered on allegations of corruption and misbehavior in Rossello's administration. Thousands of pages of private chat messages between Rossello and his top aides were leaked to the public earlier this month, and investigators believe that the contents may include evidence of criminal wrongdoing (in addition to a variety of offensive comments). Puerto Rico's justice department has asked those named in the chat scandal to surrender their phones for an investigation.

Rossello's chief of staff, Ricardo Llerandi, resigned on Wednesday, citing threats he has received and the risk of harm to his family. So far, Rossello himself has refused to step down, but Puerto Rican media outlets have reported that his resignation is expected to follow on Wednesday night. Public affairs secretary Anthony Maciera told reporters that Rossello is working on a speech that will be delivered at a later time.