Puerto Rico

Hurricane Fiona

Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in 2017. Then the power grid was privatised in 2020. Now this, reports Jon Queally.

The people of Puerto Rico have risen up and forced Governor Ricardo Rosselló to resign, writes Barry Sheppard.

Hours after Governor Ricardo Rosselló resisted calls to step down over leaked messages — mocking victims of Hurricane Maria and attacking fellow politicians with misogynistic slurs — an estimated 400,000 Puerto Ricans took to the streets on July 22 and demanded Rosselló's resignation.

Climate change catastrophe has confronted hundreds of thousands of people of the eastern seaboard of the United States and on the Philippines island of Luzon, writes Phil Hearse, as Hurricane Florence and Typhoon Mangkhut made landfall simultaneously.

Large-scale teacher-led rebellions against cuts and for workers’ rights have broken out in US states such as West Virginia, Arizona, Oklahoma and Colorado. Although it has received less publicity, teachers are also rebelling in the US’s Caribbean colony of Puerto Rico.

Fighting to keep the island’s public schools open in the wake of the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria last year, teachers are boycotting standardised tests and even teaming up with parents to occupy their schools.

Five months after Hurricane Maria hit the United States’ Caribbean colony of Puerto Rico, swaths of the island still have no electricity, while food and water supplies have been slow to arrive, Democracy Now! reported on February 19.

The humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico continues after almost two months after the hurricanes hit. The imperialist center in Washington continues to refuse to provide anything like adequate aid to its Caribbean colony.

The destruction caused by the two hurricanes that hit the island in September was worsened by a long history of imperialist exploitation, which has devastated the economy and infrastructure. This has greatly deepened over the past decade.

The humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico continues almost two months after two hurricanes hit. The imperialist centre in Washington continues to refuse to provide anything like adequate aid to its Caribbean colony.

The destruction caused by the two hurricanes that hit the island in September was worsened by a long history of imperialist exploitation, which has devastated the economy and infrastructure. This has greatly deepened over the past decade.

Puerto Rico is facing a huge humanitarian crisis after being hit by two super-strong hurricanes. It suffered a glancing blow by Irma and then a direct hit by Maria, both storms greatly strengthened by warmer ocean water caused by climate change.

The crisis is still unfolding weeks after Maria hit. The full picture and extent of the damage will not be known for some time.

In his first hours of freedom after 36 years behind bars in US prison, Puerto Rican independence leader Oscar Lopez Rivera vowed on May 17 to continue to fight for freedom and independence while expressing solidarity with progressive movements across the Americas.

“During the years I was jailed I always thought I would return home,” Lopez said during a press conference, thanking all the progressive organisations and world leaders who supported him and worked for his release over the years.

Rene Perez, aka Residente, co-founder and lead singer of Puerto Rican band Calle 13, has slammed the United States for being one of the most “racist” countries on the planet. 

“[US president Donald] Trump helped identifying the racists, you can see them with the little cap,” Residente said this month, alluding to the red “Make America Great Again” headwear that is popular with Trump supporters.

The widespread jubilation when it was announced that Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar Lopez Rivera would be released in May shows that liberation struggle still resonates in the Caribbean island that remains a United States colony.

The United States government announced on January 17 the release of Oscar Lopez Rivera, who has been jailed in the US for 36 years for his struggle to free Puerto Rico from US colonial rule.

Outgoing US President Barack Obama commuted Lopez' sentence, which will expire on May 17, according to a White House source, consulted by the EFE news agency.

The Congressional, executive and judicial wings of the United State government recently clarified for all — despite Washington's claims to the contrary — that Puerto Rico is a US colony. A law known as PROMESA was passed by Congress with bipartisan support and signed by President Barack Obama on June 30. It creates an unelected seven-person control board that has sweeping powers to take over Puerto Rico's economy.

Last year, Puerto Rico's governor announced it simply did not have the money to repay its US$72 billion debt — on bonds owed mainly to US financiers. On May 2, the US's Caribbean colony defaulted on $400 million that was due on that day. A further $2 billion is due on June 1.

In a move that has shocked Wall Street and Washington, the Puerto Rican Senate and the House of Representatives have passed an emergency declaration authorising the governor to suspend payments on US$72 billion in public debt, Democracy Now! said on April 6. This sets up dramatic showdown between the United States colony and hedge funds amid the Caribbean island's historic debt crisis.

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