Puerto Rico January 17, 2020: Over 700 homes damaged due to multiple earthquakes that have hit the southern part of the island, and victims of the disaster are sleeping outside, some with children, others with their elderly parents. We know of 1 death, and another indirect death due to a hospital not fixed after Hurricane Maria. Funds from Hurricane Maria have been held in limbo and only recently were these funds dangled in front of the faces of Puerto Ricans… but with a catch.
As coincidence would have it, Puerto Ricans have been demanding a cancellation of billions in debt which hasn’t been audited and many suspect contains illegal deals. So aid is being offered in exchange for something: They want to give more power to the undemocratically elected fiscal board, in order to ensure that debt is fully paid by the people who had no dealings in that debt. In other words, victims of a disaster are being offered aid just so that the US government can impose even more austerity on them. Meanwhile, the people are saying, they have no freedom to choose, as the real ‘Governor’ of Puerto Rico is the Judge Swain, who decides how this debt will be paid to the Wall Street hedge funds/vultures that have their sights set on taking everything from victims of 2 disasters, who are colonized and without any real power, or representation.
There are moments like this that teach us, and make very clear, what is lacking and what needs to be done moving forward. And it’s participatory democracy and learning how to organize that has been an incredibly important part of this cultural evolution happening in Puerto Rico.
This is why this week I speak to a member of a community initiative that was there on the ground first, before local or federal officials, because they remain committed to the needs of the people and providing real relief, rather than the illusion of it.
I want to thank La Brigada Solidaria del Oeste for their commitment to communities and their incredibly impactful model of listening to their needs – which unfortunately is a radical concept to federal and local officials who continuously fail to provide real leadership. However, Puerto Ricans have caught on, and they are starting to see that real change will come with organizing communities. People power is what got a governor kicked out this summer, with millions on the street saying: Enough.
This interview was done a week after the first large earthquake and there are so many more updates but I hope this interview inspires you to get involved, donate, and keep raising awareness with me. Thank you.
For more information on La Brigada and other organizations that are doing community work on the ground – please check out this list:
Paypal Donations to: BrigadaSolidariaOeste@gmail.com
Some News articles that cover the recent issues affecting Puerto Rico: