i’ve been writing a paper for several months now on Puerto Rican social movements, the history of the relationship with the United States, and the distressing degree of police brutality. i strongly believe we have a lot to learn from the Puerto Rican people, and as US citizens, we have a responsibility to speak up when our taxes are supporting such a police force. here’s the introduction to my paper as it stands currently:
The economic downturn starting in 2007 has hit the United States citizens of Puerto Rico especially hard. For decades, however, the people of Puerto Rico, have endured a compromised economic standing in the international market. The fundamental conditions that have led to this most recent economic recession have to do with powerful political and economic classes who have long worked for their own interests at the expense of unemployment and poverty rates. In response, especially in Puerto Rico, we can see the undeniable rumblings of the grassroots demanding not just survival but dignity. What follows in this essay is a focused look at Puerto Rican society today along with some history to appreciate the full context. When Luis Fortuño was elected as the Governor of Puerto Rico, he campaigned as a Republican on a promise of ‘jump-starting’ the economy. Indeed the United States is watching very carefully since budgets and deficits have been a central focus for the federal and state governments. The Puerto Rican example is yet another experiment in austerity and privatization. This paper is an effort to give attention to the diverse social movements gaining popular support today. But the violent interactions between students, union members, journalists and activists with the Puerto Rican Police Department indicate an unsettling strategic use of fear, force, and detainment to maintain the status quo. In the face of this, Puerto Ricans trans-nationally have been far from silent. I hold that a greater solidarity is needed between the student, union and environmental justice movements if a resistance is to emerge that is capable of real cultural and economic transformation. This need for solidarity is world-wide. My guiding research questions have been: what are the obstacles to solidarity for Puerto Rican activists? How do Puerto Ricans envision their society and its possible futures? And finally, what would transformation look like if it were to actually address the causes of crisis and of poverty?
(more to come soon)