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Political unrest in Puerto Rico stretches to Buffalo transplants from island

Posted at 4:47 PM, Jul 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-24 17:08:53-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — “They start at 8 and go to 8:30 p.m.”

Emil Rivera talks about what is called “cacerolazo”. It’s a ritual of resistance being used now in Puerto Rico where people take their kitchen utensils and pots and pans to the streets.

They’re making a lot of noise on the island lately.

Two weeks after emails from Puerto Rico’s governor Ricardo Roselló were leaked to the public, the political unrest continues.

The calls for him to resign stretch all across the island and continental U.S. and 7 Eyewitness News reached out to some Puerto Rican’s living in Buffalo now who say they are standing in solidarity with the island’s call for change.

Emil Rivera moved here a year ago to teach after seeing a job posting online for a position with Buffalo Public Schools.

It was a dramatic change, that became necessary, he said, after dealing with years of controversy in the public education system in Puerto Rico.

Rivera said he watched, helplessly, one morning as he arrived at his school to find his kids outside and a chain and padlock on the door.

He carried that pain and his suspicions about mismanagement to government funds with him for a long time until earlier this month when messages from the governor to members of his inner circle confirmed some of his suspicions.

“We have these heridas (wounds),” he said. “And this opened the wound, so it was like the last drop in the cup.”

Lottie Bow was also a teacher in Puerto Rico, she came here two years ago.

Bow says the corruption dates back decades.

“Corruption in our government using in a back way our federal funds, problems in education, problems in our health system, and the poor people and the middle class are suffering,” she said.

What is happening in Puerto Rico, she says, is unprecedented because of the unity between people of all classes and creeds and political parties.

“The chats show the people how the government thinks about them.”

We asked whether she thinks Roselló will step down, despite him saying he refuses.

“He will, he will…I think…he will.”

Rivera is torn on what the governor will end up doing but says he has lost the ability to properly govern his people. He’s lost the people.

“You’ve heard of the point of no return, right?”