Puerto Rico Summer Uprising: What comes next?

Monday, November 18, 2019 6:00pm-8:00pm

The Summer of 2019 marked a pivotal moment in the history of people’s struggles in the island of Puerto Rico. Two weeks of massive protests culminated in the ousting of then-governor Ricardo Roselló. Our event explored how this protest was a response to humiliation, corruption, and austerity measures imposed by a “fiscal oversight board,” and also to a deeper crisis rooted in the colonial history of the island and to Disaster Capitalism woven together. The governing political and economic elites are responsible for the material impacts of Hurricane Maria’s mismanagement, as they have prioritized opening markets and private enterprise over the incremental death rate, lack of water, destruction of infrastructure, and closing of schools. Imposing austerity measures deepened the existing debt crisis in Puerto Rico and deepened the indignation of the middle and working classes. The revelation of the governor’s classist, racist, homophobic, death-mocking, and politics-playing communications with his inner circle triggered the massive response and exposed the intersectionality of oppressions that Puerto Ricans have endured, along with decades of failed neo-liberal economic policies and corruption. These constitute an ongoing colonial process of structuring inequality through accumulation by dispossession and exploitation to which the Island was subject even before becoming a colony of the United States.

The Puerto Rico Summer Uprising event aimed to understand the mobilizing efforts before and after the #PuertoRicanSummer through the perspectives of labor activists, artists, and civil rights monitors, and to share lessons of participatory democracy and resistance in the 21st century. Most of all we wanted to explore what comes next: what are families, communities, and organizations envisioning for their present and their future emancipation? What is our role as US citizens in this pivotal moment in the history of the relationship between empire and colony?

Co-sponsored by The Latinx Project, Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics, and North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA).