Puerto Rico: Imperialism is the Root Problem

May Day 2017 protest in San Juan PR over economic crisis & austerity measures.

It’s been a minute since we’ve posted. Hurricane Irma prep, aftermath, and catch up slowed us down in south Florida.

But! We’re psyched that students at Florida International University decided to be a part of One Struggle! They recently wrote a leaflet about the situation in Puerto Rico.

We hear a lot about the humanitarian crisis, the need for aid, clean water, power – the basics of life. Shout out to Mutual Aid Disaster Relief, as well as independent neighbors and groups self-organizing aid and relief! Many recognize the role of climate change in extreme storms, and capitalism’s innate necessity to expand as a fundamental culprit fueling climate change.

All this is true, but what is often left out is the reality that Puerto Rico has been in a dire economic state for decades because of US imperialism. People are dying in PR after the storm, and we need to help them. But folks have been leaving the island in record numbers because of the economic crisis… a form of slow death. Puerto Rican populations in the Orlando, Florida area continue to rise. Many of those who remained on the island were already struggling to survive prior to the storms.

Below is a leaflet that OS-FIU students wrote to bring attention to the role of capitalism/imperialism in the struggle Puerto Ricans face.

We also thought we’d share this video produced by subMedia, along with an OS member, about Vieques, Puerto Rico – an island off the southeast coast of PR, which faced US Naval occupation and eventually kicked out the Navy. We share it so that folks can understand some elements of the imperialist domination PR faced prior to hurricanes Irma and Maria, and continues to face in the wake of these disasters. Imperialism is not just domination through occupation or wars. It is economic, political, cultural, and environmental domination.

When we are organized, we can fight back!

¡Vieques Resiste! from sub.Media on Vimeo.


We all know that Puerto Rico is currently facing a humanitarian crisis. Due to the catastrophic impact of hurricanes Irma and Maria, the population now undergoes extreme scarcity of water, food and shelter, In the face of all of this, Trump tweeted from one of his 17 golf club courses:

“Texas & Florida are doing great but Puerto Rico, which was already suffering from broken infrastructure & massive debt, is in deep trouble. It’s old electrical grid, which was in terrible shape, was devastated. Much of the Island was destroyed, with billions of dollars owed to Wall Street and the banks which, sadly, must be dealt with.”

Trump’s blaming of Puerto Rico’s debt and infrastructure issues is an acid irony. How were these problems caused in first place? They are the consequences of centuries of colonialism and imperialism in the island. Spain began its colonization of Puerto Rico over 500 years ago, massacring and enslaving the indigenous populations for gold extraction. By the end of the 19th century, over 80% the population in Puerto Rico was poor and illiterate. The staggering economy, based on agricultural industry, was constrained by the abusive taxes imposed by Spain.

Meanwhile, the development of capitalism in the United States rendered the home market insufficient: the system’s built-in need to “expand or die” required new materials and exploited labor. Craving to use Puerto Rico as a naval station and to lay hands on its sugar, the US capitalist class sent the troops to seize Spain’s colonies — all in the name of “democracy” and “freedom”. In 1898, the Spanish flag was replaced with the American one. The US continued to profit from PR’s fragile economy, and the island remained a puppet in the hands of imperialism until today.

It’s time for change. Relief efforts are important, but donations won’t do. The extent of the hurricane damage in Puerto Rico is not the result of “bad management”: it’s the result of purposeful exploitation. And we can stop it.

Join us in the fight for people’s freedom, in the fight against capitalism/imperialism: it is all One Struggle. STAND UP. FIGHT BACK. ORGANIZE!

Contact us at:  onestruggle.fiu@gmail.com


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