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Puerto Rico

Out LUMA!: Puerto Ricans Demand End To Privatization Of Energy

Hundreds of Puerto Ricans took to the streets of the capital, San Juan, on Wednesday July 3, to demand an end to the controversial contract signed by the government of Puerto Rico with the US-Canadian company LUMA Energy. During the march, organized by the Union of Electrical and Irrigation Industry Workers (UTIER), workers and activists shouted slogans like: “Privatized energy is rejected by the people”, “We demand electric energy because it is a human right”, and “They privatize energy and steal from us every day”, among others. According to the protesters, there has not been a significant improvement in the electricity service as promised with the privatization. Major blackouts and electricity connection problems continue.

Puerto Ricans Take To The Streets Against Kamala Harris’s Visit

On Friday, March 22, Kamala Harris marked her first visit to Puerto Rico since becoming Vice President of the United States to attend a Democratic Party fundraiser, and was met with mass protests. In an embarrassing gaff, Harris spent a moment clapping along to a protest song before quickly freezing up after an aide translated it for her. The lyrics called out the longtime US occupation of Puerto Rico: “We want to know, Kamala, what did you come here for? We want to know what you think of the colony.”

A New Alliance Could Change Puerto Rican Politics

Puerto Rico has been a territory of the United States since the 1898 Spanish-American War. It had only US-appointed governors until 1948, and in 1952, Congress passed a joint resolution that approved its first constitution, which provided for limited autonomy. It would become a “Commonwealth,” but the island remained an unincorporated territory that lacked sovereignty and full rights afforded to US citizens, despite the fact that residents of Puerto Rico were granted citizenship in 1917. Since then, the island’s politics have revolved around three political parties whose platforms are focused on its political status.

Ariel Henry: An Itinerant Ex-Prime Minister Without A Country

Since arriving in New York from Nairobi, Kenya on Sat., Mar. 2, former de facto Prime Minister Ariel Henry has been trying to get back to Haiti. But Haiti does not want him. He spent several days in Manhattan, but no commercial flights could fly him and his large entourage to Haiti because the Port-au-Prince airport was closed after gunfire hit an Avolon charter jet bound for Cuba on Thu., Feb. 29. (No one was injured, and the damage was minimal.) Over the weekend, Henry asked Washington to provide him with a military plane and soldiers to accompany him back to Haiti.

Within US-Occupied Nation Of Puerto Rico, Solidarity With Palestine Grows

Within the boundaries of US-occupied Puerto Rico, the movement for Palestinian liberation has been growing. On December 18, a demonstration organized by students and the Palestinian diaspora on the island marched from the Israeli consulate in San Juan to the US Federal Court. The formation “Mothers Against the War” has been calling protests on a weekly basis outside of the consulate. Jocelyn Velázquez of Jornada Se Acabaron las Promesas spoke at a November 12 rally outside the Puerto Rico Capitol in San Juan, starting off her speech by applauding the people of Palestine as well as the Palestinian resistance. “We are the guarantee that the world understands that we need to stop this genocide,” she said.

How A Maneuver In Puerto Rico Led To A $29 Billion Tax Bill For Microsoft

In a long-awaited development, the largest audit in the history of the IRS has finally taken its next step. On Wednesday, Microsoft announced that the agency had notified the company that it owes $28.9 billion in back taxes, plus penalties and interest. The case is epic not only in dollars but in scope. As ProPublica reported in an in-depth narrative in 2020, the IRS saw the case as a chance to prove the agency’s effectiveness. Often cowed by the prospect of facing off against corporations with endless resources, the IRS set out to be bolder and more aggressive. It took the unusual step of hiring a corporate law firm to represent the agency, a step that incensed Microsoft.

Poverty Is Growing In Puerto Rico Under US Colonialism

Poverty in Puerto Rico, under US colonialism, is getting worse over time, not better. More than two-fifths of Puerto Ricans suffer from poverty, and nearly three-fifths of Puerto Rican children live in poor households. In 2022, the poverty rate in the colonized US “territory” grew from 40.5% to 41.7%, according to US Census Bureau data. A staggering 57.6% of Puerto Rican children live in poverty. And 38.8% of families are below the poverty line. Poverty has been growing in Puerto Rico even at a time when more people are working. The unemployment rate fell from 13.1% to 9.9% in 2022, while poverty got worse.

Puerto Rican Groups Give Deposition To UN Decolonization Committee

This past week, the UN Decolonization Committee held a hearing on what has been called the Puerto Rico case, on Puerto Rico’s inalienable right to self-determination and independence. Since the UN passed Resolution 1514 (XV) in 1960 for the eradication of colonies, recognizing independence as a fundamental human right and in accordance with the UN Charter, 41 hearings have already been held on our case. Recall that the U.S. disguised the colonial state of PR by naming it a Commonwealth in 1952 so as not to have to report to the United Nations. But this farce was unmasked in 2016 when the US Supreme Court concluded in a double exposure case, that it is the US Congress who rules in PR.

Movement That Built Puerto Rico’s First Community-Owned Microgrid

For two weeks after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in 2017, Lucy’s Pizza was the only restaurant open in the central mountain town of Adjuntas. The town’s 18,000 residents, like those on the rest of the island, were entirely without electricity. “No one has power, you can’t get gas, it’s difficult to make food, so everyone came here to eat,” says owner Gustavo Irizarry. “The line,” he gestured down the block along the town’s central plaza, “endless.” Using a diesel generator, Lucy’s was running at about 75% capacity. The generator was loud, emitted dangerous fumes and wasn’t always reliable.

Puerto Ricans Occupy Land To Resist Displacement

In front of a mural that reads “Only the people save the people,” Marisel Robles Gutiérrez stood before a group of elderly adults, to make an announcement: the non-profit organization Comedores Sociales had gained ownership of the abandoned property that they occupied in 2017 by negotiating with a real estate investment company. With a slightly cracked voice and smiling, she said: “We rescued this building… we gave it life, and thanks to all these years, to all the people who have participated,” —she interrupted and placed her hands to her chest— “finally, we can announce today that it is ours.”  

The Toxic Legacy Of US Foreign Policy In Vieques, Puerto Rico

Puerto Ricans had no say in the U.S. war of conquest with Spain over its colonial possessions or in the Treaty of Paris that dictated they were to become the property of a new empire. The United States acted according to a well-crafted strategic narrative  of white saviorism and American exceptionalism without concern for the people whose land it stole. It wanted to further its control to the south and east via its expansionist foreign policy – and it needed to extend military power beyond its violently acquired borders to do so; the Monroe Doctrine of 1823, known as the cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy, provided the impetus.

Devastating Effects Of Militarization On Puerto Rico And Her People

The U.S. has been overtly and covertly intervening in Puerto Rico's internal affairs since 1898. Like the Spanish, British, Dutch, and the French, the U.S. understood the strategic value of the Puerto Rican archipelago, which would give their expanding empire a military advantage toward enforcing the Monroe Doctrine, thereby securing its established intent to dominate the Western Hemisphere. A new wave of militarization began soon after the change of colonial ownership, the implications of which would devastate the island municipalities of Culebra and Vieques. Culebra was militarized in 1901 and expelled the Navy in 1975. Vieques was militarized in 1941 and expelled the Navy in 2003.

Statement By Ana Belen Montes After Her Release From Prison

Here is an update and current image of Ana Belen Montes, after her release from prison … we share with you the only authorized statement she wanted to share and make public, sent through her lawyer Linda Backiel on Sunday, January 8, 2023.

Puerto Rico Contends With Two Storms: Fiona And Colonialism

In mid-September of this year, Hurricane Fiona hit Puerto Rico as a Category 1 storm. Despite Category 1 being the mildest ranking, the damage was devastating, triggering an island-wide blackout and leaving more than 760,000 without clean water. After nearly a month since the storm, the reality on the ground is still grim. Officials estimate $172 million in damages to roads, excluding municipal roads, which are the majority. Around 900,000 Puerto Ricans have applied for individual assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). 59%, or three out of every five such applications have been approved. According to Manuel Laboy, the director of the Central Office of Recovery (COR3), FEMA has not approved any of the public assistance applications submitted by the 78 municipalities, 40 agencies and 57 non-profit organizations. FEMA itself has challenged this claim.

Puerto Rico: A Microcosm For The Worst Kind Of Capitalist Ideas

Puerto Rico is in dire need of fuel for generators as they deal with the devastation of Hurricane Fiona. But a ship carrying fuel has been idling offshore, unable to enter a port, because it’s Puerto Rico, where the Jones Act—requiring that all goods be brought in on a US-built ship, owned and crewed by US citizens, and flying the US flag—makes critical goods more expensive, or in this case, out of reach. (The White House has just announced it will temporarily waive the Jones Act.) Investment firms in mainland states can’t act as advisors to the government in the issue of bonds while at the same time marketing those bonds to investors—but they can in Puerto Rico. In Puerto Rico, you can get tax breaks, including zero income tax on capital gains—unless, that is, you were born on the island. Only non–Puerto Ricans qualify. Puerto Ricans themselves are ineligible for Supplemental Security Income, even though they pay payroll taxes.
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