Occupy SMA

OCCUPY

By Dr David Stea

Rolls of paper towels tossed by the devil …? One assumes they were supposed to soak up the floodwaters.

On July 30, at the Monday Occupy meeting, Dr David Stea will host a lecture and film discussion on Puerto Rico and its current situation. This Caribbean island, which has been US “property” (read “colony”) since the Spanish-American War of 1898, was the only major piece of captured territory not granted eventual independence (in the case of the Philippines, it took until after WWII). Until the hurricane of 2017, Puerto Rico was known to American tourists primarily for its beaches.

Many Americans, the current President included, do not realize that Puerto Rican residents are US citizens, and are thus entitled to the same disaster relief as inhabitants of Texas, Louisiana, and Florida. Instead, more than a year after Hurricane Maria, the Puerto Rico continues to suffer the impacts of that natural disaster, with little cry for additional aid and no major uproar in the continental USA.

A little history: in the centuries following the “discovery” of Puerto Rico by Christopher Columbus, 450,000 immigrants, mainly Spaniards, settled the island; other immigrants were mainly from France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, and Scotland. Americans are taught that Puerto Rico was oppressed by Spain until liberated by the USA in 1898. That is entirely false. Nearly a century earlier, in 1809, Puerto Rico was recognized as an overseas province of Spain during the European Peninsular War, allowing its residents the right to elect representatives to the Spanish parliament. Following the Spanish-American War, Puerto Rico was ceded to the USA; its inhabitants became US citizens in 1917, with its constitution finally ratified in 1952. The first part of the twentieth century was devoted to the “Americanization” of Puerto Ricans, with English-only instruction in the schools until 1949. English continues as the official language of the government of Puerto Rico.

In 1978, the UN’s Special Committee on Decolonization referred to Puerto Rico “a colony” of the USA and said that in reality it was a Caribbean nation with its own national identity. In a mid-2016 report, the USA was called upon to allow Puerto Rico’s people to express their desire for self-determination and, once again, for independence. The movement for self-determination is one that has been ongoing for more than a century among Puerto Ricans and their allies.

The arrival of Hurricane Maria a year ago demonstrated how many Americans continue to regard Puerto Ricans as second-class citizens. Despite FEMA’s admission that it was woefully underprepared, President Trump radically downplayed the disaster and loudly complained about the cost. The estimates of casualties range from 64 to almost 5,000. After more than 12 months, and facing yet another hurricane season, Puerto Rico is still woefully short of water, electricity—even plastic roofs to replace those destroyed by the storm.

Join us Monday as we to explore the current situation of Puerto Rico in the context of its colonization by two countries. All are welcome. Our events are free.

 

Meeting and Film

Occupy SMA presents:

Puerto Rico: The Devil in Paradise

Mon, Jul 30, 1pm

Quinta Loreto Hotel

TV room

Loreto 15, Centro

Free

 

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