Don't let Puerto Rico be "forgotten" in 2021

This is not the first time that I have expressed these wishes and made decisions. The following story is over Sunday, December 31, 2017, was released just months after Hurricanes Irma and Maria hit Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands Review and Resolution 2017 for 2018 and beyond

In 2017, many US citizens in Puerto Rico will ring by candlelight for the new year 2018. Not because it's romantic or spiritual – it's because they still have it no energy. The living sin luz (without light) is not a poetic reference – it is a nocturnal reality. A nightmare of which the beginning of the next day comes as no surprise. The citizens of the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) are nowhere near normal, facing a significant loss of tourist income and a budget crisis.

I'm not in the habit of making New Year's resolutions, but this year I'm making an exception. I resolve to continue shouting, writing, tweeting, calling elected officials and doing everything in my power to protect against politicians and the unsustainable, unacceptable and shameful condition of our sisters and brothers in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands the general to maintain a public that made the unimaginable normal. Since when has it been normal for such a travesty to simply tick off the number of days that pile up and move on to something more urgent in our minds?

In September 2018, a year after the devastation of Hurricane Maria, I tried again and wrote: "Promise to support Puerto Rico"

Where is the national outrage?

More than a year has passed since Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, killing thousands, not in direct impact, but in the days and months of neglect by their government and "President." “,” Aka Donald Trump, that followed.

The situation remains grave for the survivors. Contrary to much of the published mainstream media coverage, not everyone has power, more than 60,000 people are living under tarpaulin leaks, schools are closed, there is a mental health crisis, and we are in the middle of the 2018 hurricane season. New storms are forming each Week people who live in the Caribbean live with the daily fear of watching the weather.

On December 29, 2019, my plea was repeated.

My New Years promise to Puerto Rico. Wed promesa de Año Nuevo in Puerto Rico

You don't have to be a Puerto Rican to worry about what's happening right before our eyes in Puerto Rico.

I am not a Puerto Rican. Sure, I have a hand in it, as my husband, some cousins, my sponsored children and their children and many of my former comrades from the Young Lords Party are Boricuas.

In September 2017, after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico and also the United States Virgin Islands, my family and friends witnessed a nightmare. It quickly became clear that the U.S. government, under the failed leadership of Donald Trump, botched relief and recovery efforts and few mainstream mainland reporters were wreaking havoc on their A-Game. I was impressed by the fact that the majority of the people here seemed to know next to nothing about the island and its broken history as a US colony. The New York Times reported: "Almost half of Americans do not know that Puerto Ricans are fellow citizens. "

I made a promise to my Santos that I would do whatever I can to reinforce the mainstream media's scarce coverage of the recovery effort on the island – and to cover the Puerto Rican community here on the mainland.

Same story for Maria's three year anniversary.


Three damn years later, Puerto Rico still has over 20,000 houses with blue tarpaulin roofs. To imagine how many people live under these blue tarpaulins, multiply that number of households by at least three – because families live under these leaky roofs

– Denise Oliver-Velez (@ Deoliver47), September 20, 2020

The island's power grid is far from stable, and all you have to do is check the online outage map to get a feel for the frequency of service outages. What is very worrying is the sale of the state utility company. Ed Morales, author, journalist and professor, recently wrote this insightful piece for The Nation.

Privatization of Puerto Rico

ÖOn July 26, Ángel Figueroa Jaramillo, head of UTIÉR (Unión de Trabajadores de la Industria Eléctrica y Riego), the union of electricity and irrigation workers in Puerto Rico, tweeted from one of the island's power stations. From Costa Sur Unit 5, near the south coast, he posted a video of an open porthole where people could look into a massive cauldron made of rotting metal and see blue and orange flames that are helping to generate electricity. "This is the facility that failed on January 7, 2020," he wrote, referring to the day a 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck southwest Puerto Rico. Since the quake, Ortiz, at that time CEO of the state electricity authority of Puerto Rico (PREPA), had said that the agency would not be able to bring the damaged facility back into operation. (Ortiz resigned from PREPA in August.) (…)

Since 2016, when Puerto Rico's Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA) was incorporated into law in response to the island's debt spiral, many of its key decisions have been in the hands of the Financial Oversight and Management Board (FOMB), which many simply call "the junta". The FOMB is charged with restructuring the territory's $ 72 billion debt. its main instrument is a brutal austerity regime. Hundreds of schools have closed, government employee pensions are threatened with cuts, municipalities are being defused, and PREPA is set to be fully privatized as part of its $ 9 billion debt settlement.

So the fate of PREPA is deeply linked to the fate of Puerto Rico. The area is in an extremely fragile state after a number of political and natural disasters in recent years: devastating hurricanes in 2017; a political scandal that led to massive street protests and the resignation of Governor Ricardo Rosselló and several of his colleagues last year; and the massive earthquake and series of aftershocks in January of this year that disabled the Costa Sur power plant and caused widespread damage. Figueroa Jaramillo's confrontational stance towards the CEO of PREPA is therefore at the center of a conflict that shows how multinational companies, with the support of the federal government, are using the precarious situation to make profits through privatization. This privatization program, driven by the unelected FOMB, is hastening a dangerous deterioration in democracy on the island at a time when it can hardly stand another crisis.

This month is also the anniversary of those 2020 earthquakes that began and continued in December 2019.

A memory.


Puerto Rico is in a state of emergency after hundreds of earthquakes in the past 10 days.

The island is still recovering from Hurricane Maria in 2017, which caused over $ 100 billion in damage.

– AJ + (@ajplus) January 11, 2020

These earthquakes, which toppled buildings and weakened important structures and facilities on the island, severely damaged the Arecibo Observatory, which has since disappeared. This was one of the few recently well-covered stories that briefly hit the headlines again for Puerto Rico.

Another point that became topical on the mainland was the ongoing issue of status – largely from the perspective of how Puerto Rican voters here on the mainland influenced the votes for or against Democrats and Republicans.

The Puerto Rican vote is currently under consideration in Georgia.


@GSierraZorita continues to raise not only PR issues, but the power and influence of Boricua Georgia-Georgia, here we come! How Puerto Rican voters could help turn the Senate blue

– Dr. Ileana P. Rodriguez (@IleanaPRod) December 22, 2020

The other major area in which Puerto Rico is covered, to the exclusion of almost everyone else, is the issue of statehood. Thousands of people, many of whom are not Puerto Ricans or mainland politicians and do not live on the island, continue to “weigh” their thoughts and opinions on Puerto Rican status: statehood, independence, maintaining the status quo, or other alternatives. The voices of those who oppose colonialism or have no control over the mainland media get the least attention.

One example is Roberto A. Fernández, who has written plays honoring both heads of state and those who advocate the current farce of the “Commonwealth”. His analysis is based on the history of the US takeover of Puerto Rico.


"The current status is colonial rule. It is a dystopia with mass migration and a child deficit in a demographic impasse where American hoarders are already earning money. Today Puerto Ricans live in a ruined empire." My latest for @enclavemag

– Roberto Ariel Fernández (@rafernandezlaw) December 21, 2020

Analysis of the Commonwealth Status of Puerto Rico

In late 1898, the Treaty of Paris set the terms under which Spain ceded control of the Philippines, Guam, and Puerto Rico to the United States while relinquishing sovereignty over Cuba. At this point in time, American political actors and judges were familiar with hierarchical terms based on the idea of ​​"race" and used them to explain and justify the rule of "whites" over the continent and its "non-white" people .

In 1901, the first cases in which the validity of colonial policy in relation to the new possessions was examined reached the US Supreme Court. In the legal blessing of colonial rule over peoples and places, the court relied on concepts of racial hierarchy.

By then, the racist discourse that the judges articulated had been around for several decades. In essence, it was said that there is an innate capacity for institution building and self-governance that is denied to all races except the Anglo-Saxon population. Given that Puerto Ricans were an "alien race"; H. Not Anglo-Saxon, should they be governed from time to time and in small doses for their own sake and given limited self-government measures.

I see a lot of uninformed tweets like the following, which assumes two Democrats from a future Puerto Rican state would mean two Democrats in those seats.


Puerto Rico 🇵🇷 and DC Statehood would give us 4 more Senators who would overturn 10-year neo-Confederate Republican rule in the Senate or #WinGeorgia if you wanted to speed up the process.

– R. Scott Tipton, MPA 👨‍🎓🌊🌈ally😷✡✝️☪Veteran 🖐 (@RScottTipton) December 29, 2020

That opinion doesn't include the reality of that Jennifer González, The recently re-elected non-voting representative for Puerto Rico is a Republican.


NOW: Jennifer González – a loyal Trump supporter – wins re-election as Resident Commissioner from Puerto Rico. She is Puerto Rico's only representative in the US Congress, although she is not entitled to vote. Your closest challenger was an FMR. Governor. The victory was not close.

– David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) November 4, 2020

One of the things that drive me crazy is that a lot of people who meddle with opinions about Puerto Rico have no idea who the players are on the island, they don't know the names of the political parties, they don't know new ones Developments, and they assume that a party with the word “progressive” in its name will do so.

I haven't spent time in Puerto Rico in years, and the Puerto Rican "left" I interacted with decades ago has changed. There's a new cast of characters and I've been trying to do my homework, but it's difficult and even more difficult when I have to read a lot in Spanish. (I only speak Spanglish fluently.)

I recently found a translated article that helped.

Luis Fernando Coss, professor at the School of Communication at the University of Puerto Rico, wrote: Puerto Rico 2021: A change of perspective, a new opposition

… it is important to reflect on the significant advances made by the left in Puerto Rico in the 2020 election cycle. I propose an optimistic outlook based on the election results, not just imagination. I am one of those people who think progress has been undervalued. Perhaps that's because the results were a little unexpected for many. In any case, the big questions are: How do we see the new landscape on the left? How will the opposition to the colonial and neoliberal regimes adapt in the future?

I am now referring specifically to those forces opposed to neoliberalism and colonialism in Puerto Rico – without losing sight of some important differences between them. In other words, I am not speaking of a single community, but of a pluralized “community” that belongs to a very diverse movement that could identify itself as left in the sense described above. To be clear, I am assuming that the votes for independent and socialist candidates, for the MVC (Citizens & # 39; Victory Movement) and the PIP, and for the independent candidate (José Antonio “Chaco”) Vargas Vigot, like-minded votes that are mainly oriented towards some kind of transformation of the country and social progress – whether on a gradual or decolonial path – and not just an “act of protest”.

What confuses things more is who can speak for Puerto Rico.


Listen to @NydiaVelazquez and @AOC because they understand that 52% out of 50% don't get a majority. We are very divided and any forced assimilation with these pathetic numbers would be a disaster.

– Elena (@elenaratelimit) December 22, 2020


The decision on the status of Puerto Rico should be made by those who are hardest hit: the people of Puerto Rico.

That is why the PR Self-Determination Act is so important.

After over 100 years of colonial rule, Puerto Ricans would have a mechanism to determine their future.

– MP Nydia Velazquez (@NydiaVelazquez) October 30, 2020

The very small number of supporters of the Congressional statehood includes both Democrats and Republicans.


There are 196 Republicans and 233 Democrats in Congress (429 total).

Only 9 openly advocated statehood:

– Puerto Rico fact checking (@FactCheckingPR) December 29, 2020


Even so, these congressmen added:

Schumer: A strong consensus is required. There is still no consensus.

Bishop: PR must first have a vibrant economy and stable government.

Young: If you don't want to be a state, you have to become an independent nation. Either one.

– Puerto Rico fact checking (@FactCheckingPR) December 29, 2020

Rarely does one of the "opinion leaders" and experts on the mainland know, if at all, much about the long and painful colonial history of Puerto Rico, nor can any of them name the leadership of the various political parties on the island, nor do they discuss current problems with the tax authority, the island's power grid, medical infrastructure, the lack of a hospital on Vieques, the privatization of the ferry to Vieques / Culebra, the effects of the Jones Act, food insecurity, the failure of FEMA and femicide. I could go on with my list, but honestly it's depressing and I'm sure some people will show up in comments today specifying why Puerto Rico should (or not) become a state as COVID-19 continues to kill more Puerto Ricans There are still residents whose electricity goes out every day, and there are far too many people without roofs.

The recent "vote" for statehood in Puerto Rico has generated a lot of social media heat that is ongoing. One of the more interesting analyzes I've read so far has been that of Efraín Vázquez-Vera, a full professor at the University of Puerto Rico and former Deputy Secretary of State for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Puerto Rico. It clarifies:

… the turnout in this referendum was only 50% of registered voters, which means that the 52% who voted yes to statehood represent only 26% of all registered voters in Puerto Rico.

For the yes and no votes, 38,000 ballot papers left the question blank. These non-voting ballots could be viewed as a printout of people who did not want to confirm another referendum on fraud by voting.

He concluded:

How long can the United States avoid its responsibility to address the issue of the future political status of Puerto Rico? The territorial status of Puerto Rico is unsustainable and is the main reason for the current Puerto Rican crisis. If one thing is certain, the crisis in Puerto Rico will only worsen over the next four years. A governor with two-thirds of the population against him with an opposing legislature means a paralyzed Puerto Rican government for years to come, when action is most needed.

This panorama suggests that sooner or later the United States will face the results of another referendum, likely with a real majority of Puerto Ricans advocating statehood for the wrong reasons: their poverty, their hopelessness and their desperation.

Whether the 2020 plebiscite on Puerto Rican status was a victory for the Puerto Rican pro-statehood movement is still open, but certainly Puerto Rico and the United States lost.

There are people posting important stories about Puerto Rico and pressing issues outside of the status dispute. However, their voices need to be amplified. Follow them and share what you can.

What I'm trying to say today is what Erica González Martínez, the director of # Power4PuertoRico, sets out in this tweet.

I strive to be the green outlined ally. I'm just a voice – a small, non-Puerto Rican voice. However, I believe that one voice can reach some others who in turn can educate someone else.

I get up between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. every morning and try to collect news from or about the island. I post what I found and shared every morning around 7:30 am on Twitter and here on Daily Kos on the Abbreviated Pundit Roundup (APR) and related expert stories from ChitownKev. I'm posting a similar summary twice a week in Black Kos (which is currently on vacation until January 8th).

In addition to following mainstream media and island newspapers published in Spanish, I also follow major groups of journalists on the island such as the Center for Investigative Journalism (CPI in Spanish).


For real investigative journalism from Puerto Rico, we highly recommend checking out CPI @cpipr's offer (link to articles in English). Donate if you can.

– Denise Oliver-Velez (@ Deoliver47), December 21, 2020

I ask you, the reader, to find some time in your day, week, or month to read a little about what is going on in our colony. (Yes, Puerto Rico is a US colony.) Keep up with the latest news and information, but try learning a little history too. Share some of these stories on your social networks.

Make a resolution with me to pay more attention to Puerto Rico in 2021.

You don't have to be a Puerto Rican to take care of yourself.

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