Building Anti-colonial Power - 1 Year After Hurricane Maria

Dear Primxs,

A year ago today, the deadliest U.S.-based natural disaster - Hurricane Maria - devastated the island of Puerto Rico, home to over 3 million people. The hurricane shattered an already unstable infrastructure, crumbling from almost two centuries of parasitic U.S. colonialism. 3,000 people died because of an explicit strategy to keep aid from reaching the island. Boricua activism and calls from all corners of the world for decolonization and self-determination have only increased since Maria. The solutions aren’t coming from the U.S., but where they’ve always come from: Boricuas.

As a son of island born Boricuas, the United States’ long-term project to teach Puerto Ricans how to assimilate is one I’ve been familiar with since I was a child, but it started long before I was born. Since 1898, the U.S. has attempted to write Boricua history in its own terms, but we know the story of the U.S. and Puerto Rico is one of extraction- of land, labor, and resources from Puerto Ricans. We Boricuas have long been resisting colonizers, from our Taíno hermanxs who fought off Spaniard conquistadors to the long escaped African slaves who settled in the lush of Loiza. Our ancestral consciousness reminds us “sigue pa’lante”: resistance runs in our blood.

Last March, I represented WRL on a delegation to Puerto Rico with our comrades at Fellowship of Reconciliation, The Truth Telling Project, the Peace and Justice Studies Association, and Oscar Lopez Rivera - Puerto Rican liberation fighter and political prisoner of nearly 40 years. From Vieques to Adjuntas, we met with frontline independistas working for a liberated Puerto Rico, with the goal of building relationships and learning from the resilience of a people whose national liberation movements have been stifled and infiltrated by the U.S. for a century.

Walking the streets of Oscar Lopez Rivera's hometown, Carolina, filled me with pride and humility. Every time we stopped for a bathroom, food, or drink, Oscar was met with roarous, loving laughter, hugs, kisses, and gratitude. That spirit of generosity, love, and family is at the very heart of Puerto Rican independence. It’s what led Boricua teachers, students, parents, and children into the streets, calling for the reopening of over 300 closed public schools. It’s what led 1970s Chicago, New York City, Philly, and New Haven youth to create The Young Lords Party. And it’s what led this Puerto Rican and countless others in diaspora to (re)connect with our homeland, and unearth the varied and continued stories of resistance to colonial and military power.

Se acabaron las promesas - que viva Puerto Rico libre!

Raúl Ramos


OCT 27: International Tribunal on US Colonial Crimes in Puerto Rico @ Holyrood Church / Iglesia Santa Cruz on 715 179th Street (Ft. Washington Ave), New York, NY 10033.

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Follow the #DefendPR hashtag today for more on Puerto Rican creative resilience post-Maria.