What Does It Mean to be Free in Puerto Rico?
My American friends are shocked that the status of Puerto Rico is a controversial topic among the residents of Puerto Rico.
“But of course Puerto Rico should be a state – they should join our American Family” and
“It’s an injustice that Puerto Rico is treated differently, they should have the same rights as every other citizen in the US”
Even Puerto Ricans say that the dialogue is done – because the people of Puerto Rico voted for statehood. But the 97% in favor of statehood were only 20% of the population that went out to vote. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/11/us/puerto-ricans-vote-on-the-question-of-statehood.html?_r=0
Other referendums have also been split but have left most on the island feeling disillusioned because in the end … nothing happens in Congress.
As communities in Puerto Rico continue to lead the recovery and the discussion on how colonialism has affected them, we are all asking ourselves what the decolonization of Puerto Rico looks like…
What does it mean to be free in Puerto Rico?
This week we discuss the need for a Social Movement, one that’s non-partisan, and one that fully addresses what colonialism is and how it affects the psyche of Puerto Ricans. Efrain Vasquez Vera joins us to talk about their movement called MAP: Puerto Rican Movement in Action (Movimiento de Accion Puertorriquena). This is the first conversation I’ve had and hope to have many more with others on the island.
We need these perspectives to shine light not just on what needs to be done to decolonize, but also how to focus and elevate the voices Puerto Ricans… rather than impose our views on the island in the way that takes away their ability to self-determination.
Recently – there was a video released of the crypto-millionnaire’s meeting with locals on the island and the most impactful piece was that they stated that locals will have to accept them whether they like it or not, because it’s for their best interest.
Puerto Ricans have heard this again and again. The naked discrimination of that phrase shows us that even today… Puerto Ricans are being told they cannot choose for themselves.
This is a critical public health issue because colonialism created the high poverty rates we see in Puerto Rico.
Colonialism is really a macro-determinant of health, and it’s been a ignored far too long. And unless we stand behind Puerto Ricans- demanding that they be provided a forum to decolonize by negotiating the incredibly discriminatory policies that affect them, and vote in a fair and unbiased way… Puerto Ricans will continue to be colonized, de-humanized and stripped of their dignity.
So I ask every American… Puerto Ricans have been waiting 120 years for you to start this dialogue… don’t let them down.
Let’s pay attention to the ways that we can help bring about a true #JustRecovery and find the real meaning of #SocialJustice.