Tens of thousands of teachers and other public workers have taken to the streets of San Juan, Puerto Rico in a March of Indignation to protest a debt restructuring plan given the green light by Judge Taylor Swain of New York. Puerto Ricans call it the “Shakedown Plan” because it will enforce more austerity on a land where disinvestment in education and health care and privatization of the energy system have already caused great hardship. A National Strike has been called for February 18. Clearing the FOG speaks with Monisha Rios, a Puerto Rican social worker and psychologist, about who and what are behind the protests. Rios discusses the PROMESA, an act passed in Congress, that put a financial oversight board in charge of the islands and that has violated the rights of Puerto Ricans to have a say in what is happening. For more information, find resources listed below.
Monisha Rios, PhD, MSW (ella/she/her) is a Puerto Rican psychologist, social worker, and anti-imperialist veteran of the U.S. Army. Since 2013, she has been investigating the American Psychological Association’s 104-year role in the weaponization and militarization of psychology in service to imperialism. Monisha works to expose the psychological warfare component of U.S.-led hybrid warfare, with a special focus on the narratives used to destabilize Peoples’ movements toward liberation from capitalist-imperialist oppression in Latin America and the Caribbean.
What U.S.-based allies can do to support the strike and our long-term resistance:
- AFFIRM OUR SOVEREIGNTY
- Use sovereignty-affirming language when discussing Puerto Rico within your groups, in statements, during actions, in articles, etc.
- Help us counter the colonial narrative on PR, the weaponization of the term “self-determination” on the part of the US gov, Statehood lobby, and the pro-colonial US imperialist left – and the confusion/neglect it fosters within the peace movement by following the example of our sister nations in CELAC https://www.plenglish.
com/news/2021/09/24/puerto- rican-pro-independence- champions-celebrate-celacs- support/
- Frame the “relationship” between the US and PR as what is it – US interventionism through classical colonialism and neocolonialism. General discussions of US interventionism in LatAm are incomplete without mention of PR as an occupied sovereign nation.
- LEARN MORE
- Host “Eyes on Puerto Rico” cram sessions to help your org’s members get up to speed on PR politics, the status question, and the current events leading up to the strike.
- Encourage a sustained focus on PR in your organizations, in conjunction with your other work on LatAm.
- Learn about how U.S. hybrid warfare works in the context of PR. This pertains especially to the narratives on status, lawfare through PROMESA and economic warfare through the austerity measures/Jones Act, etc…
- Follow @FMPRLucha, Defendiendo la Educación de Puerto Rico, Jornada Se Acabaron las Promesas, NY Boricua Resistance , A Call to Action on Puerto Rico, Bandera Roja, Carlos (independent journalist), Devilette, Bianca Graulau, Claridad, @RadioIslaTV, @ElNuevoDia, and Puerto Rican MSM. There are many other groups and accounts to follow for more info, but this is a start.
- Follow these hashtags: #PROMESA #MarchaDeIndignación #SalarioDigno #LaGenteAntesDeLDeuda #PeopleBeforeProfit ##RetiroDigno #JusticiaSalarial #SolidaridadConElMagisterio #SalarioJusto #RetiroPaTodes #FueraLuma #PuertoRico #DefendPR #ParoNacional
- Consider writing solidarity statements/articles from your orgs
- If you are part of a journalist org, consider making regular space to cover PR
- Connect with diaspora groups like A Call to Action on PR, Boricua Resistance, and others so that your groups can join them when they protest in the US. This is crucial support for us!
- Between now and February 18, encourage your groups to partake in a social media campaign, posting photos of themselves with messages of support for our striking workers, messages against the debt, against the FOMB, against LUMA and HMS privatization, against the lack of hospital in Vieques, and so on. They can use the following hashtags: #SalarioDigno #LaGenteAntesDeLDeuda #PeopleBeforeProfit ##RetiroDigno #JusticiaSalarial #SolidaridadConElMagisterio #SalarioJusto #RetiroPaTodes #FueraLuma #PuertoRico #DefendPR #ParoNacional #HospitalParaViequesYA #FueraHMS