June 2, 2023

Although well-liked parlance and political pundits push the concept that Puerto Rico is a territory of america, colonialism is the apt definition of how america – political and capitalist class- has engaged the island fore greater than a century.

One of many central themes within the novel, Olga Dies Dreaming, by Xochiltl Chavez is the gentrification of land and exploitation of different pure sources by non-Puerto Ricans, significantly after Hurricane Maria destroyed a lot of Puerto Rico’s infrastructure in 2017. Nicely-connected catastrophe capitalist builders who donate massive sums of cash to politicians in Puerto Rico and america are shopping for their entry to occupy and personal land. The machinations of those land speculators in coordination with lenders, attorneys, and legislatures – “Puertopians” is resulting in the re-colonization of Puerto Rico. Fiction is commonly rearranged details.

The colonial relationship between the island and america has existed for 125 years, whereas Congressional inaction continues to breed and enshrined the colonial standing. As Ed Morales writes in Fantasy Island: Colonialism, Exploitation, and the Betrayal of Puerto Rico, “Since its acquisition by the US in 1898, Puerto Rico has served as a testing floor for essentially the most aggressive and exploitative US financial, political, and social insurance policies. The devastation that ensued lastly grew unattainable to disregard in 2017, within the wake of Hurricane María, because the bodily destruction compounded the infrastructure collapse and trauma inflicted by the debt disaster.” One other theme in Chavez’s ebook is resistance and refusal to those maneuvers and plotting and the wildly sensible self-determined community-based survival tasks which have grown from the grassroots.

On this video, journalist Bianca Graulau explains how some Puerto Ricans are occupying land and legally demanding they hold entry when the builders, who deserted the property, or rich traders who see cash in different peoples’ distress, circle like vultures. From the attitude of on a regular basis Puerto Ricans, these exterior traders are parasites. The video is bilingual, with English and Spanish subtitles.

A thread from Graulau’s Twitter explains the video,

“Image this. An investor from the U.S. buys an deserted constructing in Puerto Rico for $108k. Holds it for 7 years untouched and lists it for $360k. Within the meantime, locals illegally enter and use it to cook dinner for ppl after the hurricane. The “squatters” get to maintain the constructing. It occurred in Caguas. A gaggle wanted a spot to feed ppl after hurricane María. They discovered an deserted constructing, broke the lock and went in. They cleaned it, put in photo voltaic panels and constructed a kitchen. They used it for 4 years and invested $120k earlier than anybody got here to say it. The group group began on the lookout for the title holder and located a reputation that has change into acquainted to Puerto Ricans: Morgan Reed. The identical actual property firm tied to the acquisition of the previous college I advised you about within the video with Unhealthy Bunny. The corporate’s govt, Brian Tenenbaum, is a high donor of Puerto Rico’s 3 main politicians, together with the gov.”

What does resistance, refusal, and autonomy appear like? One component is solar-produced electrical energy. Others components of self-determination are assembly the essential on a regular basis wants of individuals. “Listed here are among the issues they provide: – free month-to-month groceries to 150 households – free massages & acupuncture for the group – ping pong courses for the youth – month-to-month group farmer’s market with produce at a low value.”

Although not all the time the case, this story has a contented conclusion, “In the long run, Morgan Reed agreed to a sale worth of $187k. Comedores Sociales raised the cash via grants from totally different foundations. In December, they introduced to the group they held the title. They sang collectively: the mutual assist heart is ours, it belongs to all of PR.”

For extra, take a look at the ebook (out of your native library) The Battle for Paradise: Puerto Rico Takes on the Catastrophe Capitalists by Naomi Klein.

“Within the rubble of Hurricane Maria, Puerto Ricans and ultrarich “Puertopians” are locked in a pitched battle over find out how to remake the island. On this very important and startling investigation, bestselling creator and activist Naomi Klein uncovers how the forces of shock politics and catastrophe capitalism search to undermine the nation’s radical, resilient imaginative and prescient for a “simply restoration.”

All royalties from the sale of this ebook in English and Spanish go on to JunteGente, a gathering of Puerto Rican organizations resisting catastrophe capitalism and advancing a good and wholesome restoration for his or her island. For extra data, go to http://juntegente.org/.”

At this hyperlink can see an instance of Klein’s reporting from Puerto Rico six months after Maria hit.

One other useful resource helpful for understanding the influence of historical past on modern politics in Puerto Rico is Policing Life and Loss of life: Race, Violence, and Resistance in Puerto Rico, by Marisol LeBrón.

“LeBrón traces the rise of punitive governance in Puerto Rico over the course of the 20 th century and as much as the current. Punitive governance emerged as a means for the Puerto Rican state to handle the deep and ongoing crises stemming from the archipelago’s incorporation into america as a colonial territory. A structuring part of on a regular basis life for a lot of Puerto Ricans, police energy has strengthened social inequality and worsened situations of vulnerability in marginalized communities.This ebook offers highly effective examples of how Puerto Ricans negotiate and resist their subjection to elevated ranges of segregation, criminalization, discrimination, and hurt. Policing Life and Loss of life exhibits how Puerto Ricans are actively rejecting punitive options and dealing towards different understandings of security and a extra simply future.”

You’ll be able to hearken to LeBrón discussing Hip Hop, youth, policing and social disaster right here, from a lecture at Duke College.

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