Do not enable Puerto Rico to ‘be forgot’ in 2021

0
14

This isn’t the primary time I’ve expressed these needs and made resolutions. The next story is from Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017, posted just a few months after hurricanes Irma and Maria slammed into Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands—2017 review and resolution for 2018 and beyond

In 2017 many U.S. residents in Puerto Rico will likely be ringing within the new 12 months of 2018 by candlelight. Not as a result of it’s romantic or non secular—it’s as a result of they nonetheless have no energy. Dwelling sin luz (with out mild) is just not some poetic reference—it’s a nightly actuality. A nightmare from which the daybreak of the next day brings no surcease. Residents within the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) should not almost again to regular,  are dealing with a significant lack of vacationer income and a budget crisis.

I’m not within the behavior of constructing New 12 months’s resolutions, nonetheless this 12 months I’ll make an exception. I resolve to proceed shouting, writing, tweeting, calling elected officers and doing something in my energy to maintain the untenable, unacceptable, disgraceful state of affairs dealing with our sisters and brothers in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in entrance of politicians and most people who’ve allowed the unimaginable to change into regular. Since when is it regular for a travesty like this to change into merely a matter of ticking off the variety of days that pile up, and shifting on in our minds to one thing of better urgency?

In September of 2018, one 12 months after the devastation of Hurricane Maria, I attempted once more and wrote: “Make a promise to support Puerto Rico”

The place is the nationwide outrage?

Greater than a 12 months has handed since back-to-back Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, killing 1000’s of individuals—not on direct impression, however within the days and months of neglect from their authorities and their “president,” aka Donald Trump, that adopted.  

The scenario stays grave for the survivors. Opposite to a lot of the printed mainstream media reportage, not everybody has energy, greater than 60,000 individuals are dwelling below leaky tarps, colleges have closed, there’s a psychological well being disaster, and we’re in the midst of hurricane season 2018. New storms kind every week and individuals who dwell within the Caribbean dwell with the every day nervousness of climate watching.

On Dec. 29 of 2019 my plea was repeated.

My New Year’s promise to Puerto Rico. Mi promesa de Año Nuevo a Puerto Rico

You don’t need to be Puerto Rican to offer a rattling about what is going on, proper earlier than our eyes, to Puerto Rico.

I’m not Puerto Rican. Positive, I’ve pores and skin within the sport since my husband, some cousins, my godkids and their kids, and plenty of of my former comrades from the Young Lords Party are Boricuas.

In September of 2017, after Hurricane Maria devastated the island of Puerto Rico, and the USA Virgin Islands as effectively, together with household and buddies I watched a nightmare unfolding. It quickly grew to become patently clear that the U.S. authorities, below the failed management of Donald Trump, was botching reduction and restoration efforts, and few mainland mainstream reporters had been bringing their A-game into the mess. I used to be struck by the truth that a majority of oldsters right here appeared to know subsequent to nothing concerning the island and its fractured historical past as a U.S. colony. The New York Occasions reported, “Nearly Half of Americans Don’t Know Puerto Ricans Are Fellow Citizens.”

I made a promesa to my santos that I might do what I might to amplify the skimpy mainstream media protection of the restoration efforts on the island—in addition to overlaying the Puerto Rican neighborhood right here on the mainland.

Similar story for the three-year anniversary of Maria.

x

The ability grid on the island is certainly not secure, and one merely has to check the online outage map to get a way of the frequency of lack of service. What could be very troubling is the sale of the state utility. Ed Morales, writer, journalist, and professor, lately wrote this illuminating piece for The Nation

Privatizing Puerto Rico

On July 26, Ángel Figueroa Jaramillo, the top of UTIÉR (Unión de Trabajadores de la Industria Eléctrica y Riego), Puerto Rico’s electrical and irrigation employees’ union, tweeted from one of many island’s energy era stations. From Costa Sur Unit 5, close to the southern coast, he posted a video of an open porthole that allowed folks to look into a large boiler product of decaying steel and see streaking blue and orange flames, the stuff of electrical energy era. “That is the plant that failed on January seventh, 2020,” he wrote—referring to the day a 6.4 earthquake hit southwestern Puerto Rico—“the one José Ortiz mentioned would take a 12 months to restore.” Ever because the quake, Ortiz, then the CEO of the government-owned Puerto Rico Electrical Energy Authority (PREPA), had been saying the company didn’t have the capability to get the broken plant again up and operating till then. (Ortiz stepped down from PREPA in August.) […]

Since 2016, when, in response to the island’s spiraling debt, the Puerto Rico Oversight, Administration, and Financial Stability Act (PROMESA) was signed into legislation, a lot of its main selections have been within the palms of the Monetary Oversight and Administration Board (FOMB), which many name merely “the Junta.” The FOMB is tasked with restructuring the territory’s $72 billion debt; its primary instrument, a brutal austerity regime. Lots of of colleges have closed, authorities employees’ pensions are threatened with cuts, municipalities are being defunded, and PREPA is slated to be absolutely privatized as a part of the answer to its $9 billion debt.

The destiny of PREPA, then, is deeply sure up within the destiny of Puerto Rico. The territory is in an exceedingly fragile state after a succession of political and pure disasters lately: devastating hurricanes in 2017; a political scandal that led to huge avenue protests and the resignation of the governor, Ricardo Rosselló, and a number of other of his colleagues final 12 months; and the large earthquake and a collection of aftershocks this January that knocked out the Costa Sur energy plant and prompted widespread injury. Figueroa Jaramillo’s confrontational stance in opposition to the CEO of PREPA is subsequently on the heart of a battle that reveals the methods multinational firms, aided by the federal authorities, are utilizing the precarious scenario to extract revenue via privatization. This privatization scheme, urged on by the unelected FOMB, is dashing up a harmful deterioration of democracy on the island at a time when it could actually little stand yet one more disaster.

This month can also be the anniversary of these earthquakes in 2020, which began in December 2019 and have continued.

A reminder.

x

These earthquakes that toppled buildings and weakened main buildings and services on the island severely broken the Arecibo Observatory, which is now gone. This was one of many few current well-covered tales that briefly put Puerto Rico again into the headlines.

One other merchandise that grew to become mainland newsworthy has been the continued concern of standing—principally seen from the attitude of how Puerto Rican voters right here on the mainland have affected votes for or in opposition to Democrats and Republicans.

The Puerto Rican vote is now being checked out in Georgia.

x

The opposite primary space the place there’s protection of Puerto Rico, to the exclusion of virtually all else, is the statehood concern. Hundreds of individuals, a lot of whom should not Puerto Rican or who’re mainland politicians and don’t dwell on the island, proceed to “weigh in” with their ideas and opinions about Puerto Rican standing: statehood, independence, upkeep of the established order, or different alternate options. The voices of those that resist colonialism or who don’t have mainland media clout get the least quantity of consideration.

An instance is Roberto A. Fernández, who has written items excoriating each statehooders and those that embrace the present farce of “commonwealth.” His evaluation is rooted within the historical past of the USA’ acquisition of Puerto Rico.

x

Dissecting Puerto Rico’s Commonwealth Status

In late 1898, the Treaty of Paris established the situations below which Spain ceded to the USA its management over the Philippines, Guam, and Puerto Rico, whereas relinquishing sovereignty over Cuba. By then, American political actors and judges had been conversant with hierarchical notions rooted on the thought of “race,” utilizing it to clarify and justify the domination of “whites” over the continent and its “non-white” inhabitants. 

In 1901, the primary instances testing the validity of the colonial coverage over the brand new possessions reached the U.S. Supreme Courtroom. In offering authorized benediction to colonial domination over peoples and locations, the Courtroom relied on notions of racial hierarchy. 

By then, the racialist discourse that the justices articulated had been in circulation for a number of a long time. In essence, it mentioned that there’s an innate capability for institution-building and self-governance, which is denied to all races however the Anglo-Saxon inventory. On condition that Puerto Ricans had been an “alien race,” i.e., not Anglo-Saxon, they had been to be ruled for their very own sake, and be given restricted measures of self-government, sometimes and in small doses.

I see plenty of uninformed tweets just like the one beneath, which assumes that gaining two senators from a future Puerto Rican state would imply two Democrats in these seats.

x

This opinion doesn’t embody the fact that Jennifer González, the lately reelected non-voting Rep for Puerto Rico, is a Republican.

x

One of many issues that makes me loopy is that heaps of people that chime in with opinions about Puerto Rico have zero clue who the gamers are on the island, they don’t know the names of the political events, they aren’t conscious of recent developments, and so they make assumptions {that a} social gathering with the phrase “progressive” in its identify makes it so. 

I haven’t frolicked in Puerto Rico in years, and the Puerto Rican “left” I interacted with a long time in the past has modified. There’s a new solid of characters and I’ve tried to do my homework, nevertheless it’s onerous, and made extra so by having to do a lot of my studying in Spanish. (I’m not fluent in something however Spanglish.)

I did discover a translated article lately that helped. 

Luis Fernando Coss, a professor at the College of Communication on the College of Puerto Rico, wrote: Puerto Rico 2021: A Shift in Perspective, A New Opposition

…it’s essential to mirror on the numerous progress of the Left in Puerto Rico within the 2020 election cycle. I suggest an optimistic outlook primarily based on the election outcomes, not mere fantasy. I’m a kind of individuals who feels the progress has been undervalued. Maybe it’s because the outcomes had been considerably sudden for a lot of. In any case, the large questions are: How will we view the brand new panorama on the Left? How will the opposition to the colonial and neoliberal regime regulate going ahead?

I’m now referring particularly to these forces that place themselves in opposition to neoliberalism and colonialism in Puerto Rico—with out shedding sight of some essential variations amongst them. In different phrases, I’m not speaking a couple of single neighborhood, however reasonably a pluralized “neighborhood” belonging to a really numerous motion that would establish as leftist within the sense described above. To be clear, I assume that the votes for independence and socialist candidates, for the MVC [Citizens’ Victory Movement] and the PIP, and for impartial candidate [José Antonio “Chaco”] Vargas Vigot are like-minded votes principally oriented towards some type of transformation of the nation and social progress —whether or not through a gradual or decolonizing route— and never a mere “act of protest.”

What confuses issues extra is the difficulty of simply who can converse for Puerto Rico.

x

x

The very small variety of congressional statehood supporters contains each Democrats and Republicans.

x

x

Not often do any of the mainland “opinionators” and pundits know a lot, if something, concerning the lengthy and painful colonial historical past of Puerto Rico, nor can any of them identify the management of the assorted political events on the island, nor are they discussing present points with the fiscal management board, the island’s power grid, the medical infrastructure, the lack of a hospital on Vieques, the privatization of the Vieques/Culebra ferry, the impact of the Jones Act, food insecurity, FEMA failures, and femicide. I might proceed with my record, however frankly it’s miserable and I’m certain a number of folks will present up as we speak in feedback stating why Puerto Rico ought to change into a state (or not) whereas COVID-19 continues to kill off extra Puerto Ricans, there are nonetheless residents whose energy goes out every day, and there are far too many people with no roofs. 

The current “vote” for statehood in Puerto Rico generated a number of social media warmth, which is ongoing. One of many extra attention-grabbing analyses I’ve learn thus far was this op-ed from Efraín Vázquez-Vera, a full professor on the College of Puerto Rico and the previous assistant secretary of state of Puerto Rico’s State Division. He factors out:

…the turnout on this plebiscite was solely 50% of registered voters, which signifies that the 52% who voted sure to statehood symbolize solely 26% of all registered voters in Puerto Rico.

Inside the sure and no votes, 38,000 ballots left the query clean. These non-voted ballots could possibly be seen as an expression of people that didn’t want to validate one other rip-off plebiscite with their vote.

He concluded:

How lengthy can the USA keep away from its duty to sort out the difficulty of Puerto Rico’s future political standing? The territorial standing of Puerto Rico is unsustainable, being the principle cause for the current Puerto Rican disaster. If one factor might be mentioned to make certain is that Puerto Rico’s disaster will go from dangerous to worse through the subsequent 4 years. A governor with two-thirds of the folks in opposition to him with an opposing legislature means a paralyzed Puerto Rican authorities for the years to return, when motion is most wanted.

This panorama means that, ultimately, the USA will likely be confronted with the outcomes of one other plebiscite, most likely with a real majority of Puerto Ricans who favor statehood for the unsuitable causes: due to their poverty, their hopelessness and their desperation.

If the 2020 Puerto Rican Standing plebiscite was a victory for the Puerto Rican pro-statehood motion remains to be an open query, however actually Puerto Rico and the USA misplaced.

There are folks publishing essential tales about Puerto Rico and urgent points exterior of the status-wrangling. Nevertheless, their voices want amplification. Observe them and share what you may.

What I’m making an attempt to say as we speak is what Erica González Martínez, the director of #Power4PuertoRico,  lays out on this tweet.

I strive onerous to be the kind of ally outlined in inexperienced. I’m just one voice—a small, non-Puerto Rican voice. Nevertheless, I consider one voice can attain a couple of others, who in flip can educate another person.

I stand up each morning between 4 and 5 AM and make an try to assemble information from or concerning the island. I put up what I’ve discovered and shared each on Twitter and right here on Day by day Kos each morning at round 7:30 AM within the Abbreviated Pundit Roundup (APR) and associated pundit tales written by ChitownKev. I put up an analogous roundup twice every week in Black Kos (which is at present on vacation hiatus till Jan. 8).

I observe not solely mainstream media shops and island papers that put up in Spanish, but in addition key journalism teams on the island just like the Center for Investigative Journalism (CPI in Spanish).

x

I ask once more for you the reader to search out a while in your day, or week, or month, to coach your self, just a bit, about what’s going on in our colony. (Sure, Puerto Rico is a U.S. colony.) Take a look at present information and data, but in addition attempt to be taught somewhat historical past. Share a few of these tales to your social networks.

Be part of me in making a decision to pay extra consideration to Puerto Rico in 2021. 

You don’t need to be Puerto Rican to offer a rattling.