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In Puerto Rico, Pots And Pans Have Become Tools For Protest

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

In Puerto Rico, protests against the Governor Ricardo Rossello have taken on many forms. People demanding his resignation have protested on horseback, on jet skis, on motorcycles, on kayaks, and they've found another way. NPR's Adrian Florido reports on the pots and pans.

ADRIAN FLORIDO, BYLINE: Every night, a couple of minutes before 8, people across the island have been stepping out onto their apartment balconies, onto porches and into the street, a pot or a pan in one hand, a spoon in the other. At first, silence. But as soon as it hits, it's like clockwork.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Speaking Spanish).

FLORIDO: From afar, someone shouts, let's go.

(SOUNDBITE OF METAL SPOON CLANKING ON PAN)

FLORIDO: Then from somewhere else....

(SOUNDBITE OF METAL SPOON CLANKING ON PAN)

FLORIDO: ...The first clang.

(SOUNDBITE OF METAL SPOON CLANKING ON PAN)

FLORIDO: Then a few more.

(SOUNDBITE OF METAL SPOONS CLANKING ON PANS)

FLORIDO: Then a few more as more people step outside.

(SOUNDBITE OF METAL SPOONS CLANKING ON PANS)

FLORIDO: And the rhythmic cacophony fills the air.

(SOUNDBITE OF METAL SPOONS CLANKING ON PANS)

FLORIDO: These cacerolazos, as they're called, are happening across Puerto Rico, just one of the ways people have taken to demanding Governor Ricardo Rossello's resignation amid scandals over private offensive text messages he sent and people's broader frustrations with their government.

(SOUNDBITE OF METAL SPOONS CLANKING ON PANS)

FERNANDO CATALA: (Speaking Spanish).

FLORIDO: Fernando Catala lives in Monte Sur, a massive condo complex in San Juan. The cacerolazo is a repudiation, he said, of the governor and what he represents.

CATALA: (Speaking Spanish).

FLORIDO: He said it's also a way for older people and children who can't go to the marches against the governor to express their discontent. Cacerolazos are a Latin American protest tradition, but they've never happened in Puerto Rico.

(SOUNDBITE OF METAL SPOONS CLANKING ON PANS)

FLORIDO: Jose Guillermo Rodriguez Matos had a little pot and a wooden spoon...

JOSE GUILLERMO RODRIGUEZ MATOS: (Speaking Spanish).

FLORIDO: ...And he said each time he strikes his pot, he's exorcising the anxiety and sadness he feels for Puerto Rico. His, like many of the pots and pans here, is beginning to show some dents.

CARMEN VELASQUEZ: (Speaking Spanish).

FLORIDO: "Puerto Rico has had protests before," said Carmen Velasquez, "but never like this." What the governor's done, she said, is unite a people.

(SOUNDBITE OF METAL SPOONS CLANKING ON PANS)

FLORIDO: This cacerolazo lasted a full hour. At 9 o'clock, just as suddenly as it started, it was over.

(SOUNDBITE OF METAL SPOONS CLANKING ON PANS)

FLORIDO: Adrian Florido, NPR News, San Juan, Puerto Rico. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.