SAN JUAN, P.R. — All day, the drums and the chants had blared through the streets outside La Fortaleza, the governor’s residence in San Juan, the Puerto Rican capital.
But just before midnight on Wednesday, a silence fell over the crowd.
For nearly seven hours, Puerto Ricans had gathered to protest their embattled governor, Ricardo A. Rosselló, in hopes that days of demonstrations and political unrest would culminate with his resignation.
But as the night dragged on, many had begun to worry their activism would not be rewarded. Some believed he might not resign, perhaps plunging the country into further political divisions. And how would the crowds react if he did not step aside? A hot night. Mounds of empty beer cans. Weeks, months, years of pent-up energy.
Some loud cursing, as he spoke at length about his accomplishments as governor.
Then, the sound of exultation pierced through the crowd: “RENUNCIÓ!”
A flurry of Puerto Rican flags flew into the air, strangers clasped arms and friends began jumping in circles, singing “¡Oé! ¡Oé! ¡Oé!” Cars from all over the city began to honk and, as people danced, fireworks erupted overhead.
Some cried, the emotion of recent days overcoming them as they realized something historic had happened. Their dissent mattered.
“We just changed history in Puerto Rico,” said Andrea Fanduiz, 25, a pharmacy technician who was among those celebrating. “Ricky the pig is gone,” she added, referring to the governor, “and whoever comes next had better listen to the streets.”
Throughout the night, the celebrations took on the feel of a music festival in parts of the old city, as some motorists blasted music from their car stereos. Some street corners resembled spontaneous dance parties as protesters celebrated the shift in Puerto Rico’s politics.
Over several days, the walls of Calle Fortaleza, the street leading to the governor’s residence, had gradually grown more and more covered with political graffiti that read like a wish list, with phrases like “Resign now!” and others too impolite to print.
But what would happen in the coming days remained unclear. Mr. Rosselló said his resignation would not take effect until Aug. 2, and many have already said his possible successor, Wanda Vázquez, is not a suitable replacement.
During a protest the night before the governor’s announcement, Alejandro Santiago Calderón, 30, had wondered if resignation would be enough. Would it be enough to convince him that the island was on a better path?
No, he decided.
“This has to change, and it has to change from the top all the way to the bottom,” he said.