On the 5th anniversary of Hurricane María, the people of Puerto Rico are again reeling from another climate catastrophe and need our solidarity and support. For decades, the Puerto Rican struggle has been a source of inspiration for me and countless others, an example of a people who refuse to give in to the endless greed of the colonizers, who maintain and extend their rich culture, who fight for their land and their people in a thousand ways. They have taught me, in the words of Aurora Levins Morales, to “defend the world we win as if it were your lover.”
On September 18, Hurricane Fiona brought torrential rains, flooding, massive mudslides, and destructive winds. The entire island lost power, and it will be weeks or months before it is fully restored. Two thirds of the island is without potable water. As the storm approached, thousands of homes still had only blue tarps for roofing, since Maria. All infrastructure has been damaged. The Virgin Islands and Dominican Republic have also been hit hard.
In Puerto Rico, this devastation is not only the result of climate chaos, but of years of U.S. colonialism. The U.S imposed a fiscal control board with the goal of privatizing public resources, making deep cuts to public funding and implementing punishing austerity programs. A year ago, the island’s electrical grid was handed over to a price-gouging private company, LUMA, sparking massive resistance on the island.
Over 3,000 people died in María and its aftermath. The callous response of the Trump administration made it clear to the Puerto Rican people that their lives did not matter in Washington, that they could not rely on the Federal government. It was through their self-determination, creativity, and love for their land that people were able to rebuild as much as they could after Maria, and it is in that spirit of mutual aid that many communities began to prepare for Fiona.
Even with the strongest mutual aid networks, recovery from Fiona will take enormous resources and the people of Puerto Rico need our support! Please show your solidarity by giving generously to this collective of community-based organizations who are both providing emergency response and are building for long-term power for an equitable recovery:
- To learn more about the roots of this crisis, check out this 18-minute video released by Puerto Rican rapper Bad Bunny; the documentary by Bianca Graulau (with captions) starts after the song itself: Bad Bunny – El Apagón – Aquí Vive Gente | Un Verano Sin Ti
- For more background on the struggle in Puerto Rico, visit the Puerto Rico Syllabus
- Reporting: Democracy Now (September 19)