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In Puerto Rico, demonstrators demand governor's resignation

"We have to get rid of all the corrupt officials," a demonstrator said a day after the governor fired high-ranking officials over questions about forgotten disaster supplies.
Image: Govt protests
Demonstrators protest outside the executive mansion in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Monday, Jan. 20, 2020, demanding the resignation of Gov. Wanda Vazquez after the discovery of an old warehouse filled with emergency supplies in San Juan.Carlos Giusti / AP

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Dozens of demonstrators gathered Monday in front of the governor's mansion in Puerto Rico's capital to demand the resignation of the U.S. territory's governor and protest the recent discovery of apparently forgotten disaster supplies amid ongoing earthquakes.

"We have to get rid of all the corrupt officials," said Mari Rivera, 33, a government employee, who said that the Gov. Wanda Vazquez "needs to stop blaming others and show her face."

Protesters banged on pots and some waved Puerto Rican flags as one of them yelled into a bullhorn, "Wanda! Turn over the disaster supplies!"

Evangelical preacher Ramón Marrero, 75, who drove up from the south coastal town of Guayama with his wife and daughters, said they came "to show our indignation, our annoyance, our rebellion."

The scene reminded many of the beginning of protests that escalated over the summer and led to the resignation of former Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, with demonstrators once again vowing to remain in the streets until Vázquez too steps down.

The protest came a day after Vázquez fired two more high-ranking officials in her administration, Housing Secretary Fernando Gil and Department of Family Secretary Glorimar Andújar, over the lack of information regarding aid collection and distribution centers. On Saturday, she fired former emergency management director Carlos Acevedo.

Vázquez said she had lost confidence in those officials after the discovery of a warehouse in the southern coastal city of Ponce that was filled with disaster supplies dating from when Hurricane Maria hit the island in September 2017 as a Category 4 storm.

She ordered an investigation into the incident and said those who broke into the warehouse to distribute supplies to people affected by a recent 6.4 magnitude earthquake that killed one person and caused more than an estimated $200 million in damage would not be prosecuted.

The investigation was scheduled to be completed on Monday.

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