Portside aims to provide varied material of interest to people on the left that will help them to interpret the world, and to change it.
September 30, 2017
EDITOR’S NOTE: A collective of Puerto Rican intellectuals and their fellow supporters, mostly academics teaching in the U.S. and spearheaded by Aurea María Sotomayor (University of Pittsburgh), have put together a statement that they would like friends and associates in the U.S. media to publish, discuss, and disseminate. It is a declaration that, on the one hand, denounces the different legal, political, financial, and logistical predatory forces behind the current “second-class-citizenship” impasse that is increasing the risk and expendability of Puerto Rican lives after Maria’s catastrophic wake. On the other, it is an urgent call to politicians and policy makers to exempt Puerto Rico permanently from the Jones Act and repeal the PROMESA law and other measures and policies that are hampering recovery.
The destruction brought by Hurricane Maria has exposed the profound colonial condition of Puerto Rico, as millions of human beings are faced with a life or death situation. The financial crisis manufactured by American bankers, colonial laws such as PROMESA and the Jones Act that controls maritime space, are legal mechanisms that prevent Puerto Rico’s recovery, and even call into question the validity of American citizenship on that island. Given the severity of the situation, political action is necessary.
Puerto Rico is experiencing a humanitarian crisis as a result of Hurricane Maria, which struck the island on Wednesday, September 20, as a Category Four hurricane. Immediately thereafter, Governor Rosselló declared a curfew from dawn to dusk for security reasons. Ten days after the event, hundreds of communities are still flooded, isolated without any food or drinking water, as highways and roads are blocked or destroyed, making communication between towns, neighborhoods and cities impossible. Telephone, internet, drinking water and electricity services have not been re-established in most communities. The weather radar was destroyed as well as the surveillance towers at the San Juan International Airport.
There is a public health crisis due to the precarious conditions in hospitals and the threat of epidemics stemming from contaminated water. Cities, towns and neighborhoods outside the metropolitan area have been abandoned, and efforts are concentrated in the San Juan metro area. The western part of the island, for example, lacks minimum services. The images shared with the world by visibly shaken journalists, television anchors, and meteorologists speak of the human drama caused by the disaster. What is missing from many of those reports is concrete information of plans and immediate, achievable initiatives to move the country ahead, as well as an ongoing plan. Explanations are necessary for why so many efforts to reach, house, feed and clothe many Puerto Ricans are unsuccessful. The people and the local government need the freedom to make and act on decisions quickly.
There is no sensible political analysis of the situation due to such dire absence of communication. The state of precariousness in which the entire population of the island finds itself forces individuals to concentrate all of their strength on survival. Many have already opted to leave the country as the re-opening of the Luis Muñoz Marín airport demonstrated in its first day of service after the hurricane. It is a cruel way of emptying Puerto Rico of its most valuable resource, its people; the potential silencing of any dissident voices in the process is unacceptable. This state of emergency could be used to promote new measures of austerity that will not benefit Puerto Rico, a country already devastated by the financial disaster of an unpayable debt.
The Caribbean has been pummeled by two major hurricanes in the month of September: Irma and Maria. The Virgin Islands, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Dominica, Barbuda, Antigua, Guadeloupe, St. Kitts, and Puerto Rico are geopolitically precarious: physically as islands and politically for their colonial history and status. They were traditionally called “Overseas Provinces” because of their political and economic dependence on a metropolitan mainland. The world has found out in the past few days what our history has always stubbornly made visible to us.
Puerto Rico is a colony of the United States. Its political status stems from the U.S. invasion of 1898 and a series of laws that served only to consolidate U.S. control, hindering the possibility of Puerto Rican sovereignty and political emancipation. One such law is the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, or Jones Act, which determines that Puerto Rico’s maritime waters and ports are controlled by U.S. agencies. The limits on shipping imposed by the Jones Act double the cost of consumer goods arriving at our shores, since they curtail the ability of non-U.S. ships and crews to engage in commercial trade with Puerto Rico. The recent legislation, PROMESA (or “promise,” a cynical and injurious acronym for the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act), which imposes millions of dollars of accrued debt and stringent austerity measures on Puerto Rico and its inhabitants, is yet to be audited.
PROMESA has established a supra governmental body with complete control over finances and the laws and regulations adopted by the PR government. PROMESA represents Congress’ most significant overt act to restate its colonial authority over Puerto Rico in total disregard of democracy, republicanism, and popular sovereignty. Here is where the need to repeal PROMESA and the Jones Act intersect, as both are exercises of colonial power to further the economic and political interest of the metropolis. At this time of humanitarian crisis and dire times for Puerto Rico, Washington must act in the best interest of the people of Puerto Rico by repealing both PROMESA and the Jones Act.
The U.S. citizenship of Puerto Ricans, in this circumstance, is not a privilege, but the branding of a slave. It is a restrictive citizenship subject to the limits imposed by the US Congress without any interpellation of the subject to whom it is imposed. As an American colony, citizenship in this case actually denies Puerto Ricans any of the rights obtained by other regions impacted by the same events in the North American mainland. Citizenship makes us hostages, dispensable entities and victims of calculated charity. It is necessary to repeal the Jones Act, which imposes restrictions on the entry of other vessels to the island, even if their intention is only to offer humanitarian aid. It is necessary to abolish the PROMESA Law, since Puerto Rico cannot be rebuilt on the basis of an unpayable and fraudulent debt. Both laws condemn the country to an unsustainable economic future that will intensify the exodus of Puerto Ricans from their island.
The manner in which aid delivered to Puerto Rico has been confiscated and controlled by FEMA, along with the refusal to assist Puerto Rico in a manner similar to that offered to mainland localities affected by Hurricane Irma, for example, shapes our interpretation of this event. It subjects the inhabitants of a territory in crisis to the limits of what a federal agency is willing to do, and denies aid that may come from other countries at this critical time. Beyond the paternalism that this implies, it turns Puerto Ricans into hostages of their colonial condition.
While exploiting the physical deprivation Puerto Ricans are experiencing, FEMA’s presence also promotes psychological servility. As military uniforms increase and become more visible due to this emergency, a very troubling image is emerging of the Puerto Rican people, under increasingly fragile and precarious conditions. Efforts are delayed for a population that the federal government considers expendable. Rampant indifference is affirmed with lack of solidarity with neighboring towns by preventing other kinds of aid from flowing into and through the island.
This situation brings Puerto Ricans down to their knees, at the mercy of the equivocal aid provided by the U.S., while other humanitarian aid is blocked. Puerto Ricans are placed under peril, endangering the lives of thousands that still have not been reached. The ultimate goal of this federal aid is unknown. Its growing militarization at a time when Puerto Ricans are deprived of the basic means of survival and communication is alarming. It turns this state of emergency into an opportunity for some to thrive financially while hundreds of people die from lack of water, food and medical treatment. No political or economic reason justifies the death of diabetes patients who do not have the means to keep their insulin cool nor dialysis patients who have seen their treatments interrupted due to lack of electricity. The consequences of this blockade on solidarity could be greater than the victims produced by the hurricane itself. The recent statements by President Trump are unworthy of any president. In the midst of a humanitarian crisis, he demands payment of the credit debt. Immediate actions must be taken. The PROMESA law and the Jones Act must be repealed. This is not the time to invoke the false rights inherent in second-degree citizenship, but to claim the right of every human being to life.
Faced with these facts, we demand:
La destrucción causada por el Huracán María ha develado aún más la condición colonial de Puerto Rico, donde millones de personas se enfrentan hoy a una lucha entre la vida y la muerte. La crisis financiera creada por la banca norteamericana y leyes coloniales tales como PROMESA y el Acta Jones (Leyes de Cabotaje de 1920) son mecanismos legales que impiden dicha recuperación, poniendo en tela de juicio el valor mismo de la ciudadanía americana en la isla. La urgencia de la situación requiere una respuesta política.
Puerto Rico está atravesando una crisis humanitaria como consecuencia del huracán María, que asoló la isla el miércoles, 20 de septiembre, como un huracán de categoría cuatro. Inmediatamente, por razones de seguridad, el gobernador declaró un toque de queda de siete a seis de la tarde, que continúa vigente indefinidamente. Diez días después del evento, todavía cientos de comunidades se hallan aisladas e inundadas, carentes de alimentos y agua potable por razón de la destrucción de las autopistas y carreteras, sumiendo en la incomunicación a pueblos, barriadas y ciudades. Tampoco se han restablecido los servicios de telefonía, internet, agua potable ni electricidad en la mayor parte del país. El radar meteorológico está destruido, así también como las torres de vigilancia del aeropuerto internacional.
Existe una crisis de salubridad pública, dadas las condiciones precarias en los hospitales y la inminencia de epidemias a causa de la contaminación de las aguas. Ciudades, pueblos y barriadas fuera del área metropolitana han sido abandonados y los esfuerzos se concentran en San Juan. El área oeste, por ejemplo, carece de los servicios mínimos. Las imágenes compartidas por los medios de prensa muestran a periodistas y meteorólogos conmovidos con el drama humano ocasionado por el desastre.
Lo que aún no se discute en dichos reportajes es un plan coherente de acción a corto y largo plazo para mover al país hacia adelante, especialmente respecto a lo que más urge. Tampoco parece existir un plan de mitigación y no se aducen las razones de la falta de circulación de provisiones y ropa. Se desconoce hacia dónde se dirige el país. Inmersos en el espacio de la precariedad, la fuerza se concentra en la sobrevivencia y aún no es visible un análisis sensato de naturaleza política de la experiencia que se vive al presente. Muchos ya han decidido abandonar el país, como se demostró el primer día en que se abrió el aeropuerto internacional. Es una imagen cruel en donde contemplamos cómo la urgencia de la situación y la ausencia de un plan de acción inmediata vacían al país. El peor resultado sería el silenciamiento de cualquier voz disidente. Las medidas de emergencia han creado un estado de excepción, útil para impulsar normas de austeridad que en nada benefician a Puerto Rico, un país ya devastado por el desastre financiero de una deuda impagable.
Las islas que conforman la cuenca del Caribe han sufrido los embates de dos fuerzas huracanadas mayores en el mes de septiembre: Irma y María. Las islas de Cuba, República Dominicana, Dominica, Barbuda, las Islas Vírgenes, Antigua, Guadalupe, St. Kitts y Puerto Rico son estados política y geográficamente precarios, por razón de su condición de isla y por su condición política colonial. “Provincias de ultramar” se las llamaba, por razón de su dependencia política con respecto a un territorio metropolitano. El mundo ha contemplado en estos días recientes lo que la historia ya ha hecho evidente ante nuestros ojos: nuestras fronteras marítimas y aéreas son controladas por agencias norteamericanas.
Puerto Rico es una colonia de los Estados Unidos, cuyo vínculo político emana de una invasión después de la cual se impuso la ciudadanía norteamericana, y una secuela de leyes que solo sirven para consolidar el vínculo servil y lastrar la posibilidad de la soberanía y la emancipación. La ciudadanía norteamericana tuvo como secuela inmediata el reclutamiento de puertorriqueños en el servicio militar obligatorio durante las guerras mundiales, así como la Ley Jones sirve para controlar y duplicar el costo de los bienes materiales que llegan a puerto, pues solo barcos norteamericanos están legitimados comercialmente.
La reciente ley PROMESA (un acrónimo cínico e injuriante que designa las siglas de una junta de acreedores) y que le impone a Puerto Rico y sus habitantes el pago de millones de dólares y medidas extremas de austeridad ni siquiera se ha auditado. PROMESA se ha convertido en un cuerpo supra gubernamental con control absoluto sobre las finanzas, las leyes y los reglamentos vigentes en Puerto Rico. PROMESA es el acto congresional más oneroso que ratifica la autoridad colonial sobre Puerto Rico y constituye una expresa violación de los principios de la democracia, el republicanismo y la soberanía popular. En ello estriba la necesidad de derogar PROMESA y la Ley Jones, pues en su convergencia jurídica coagula el dominio del poder colonial con el propósito de conservar y avanzar los intereses económico-políticos de la metrópolis. En este momento, cuando prevalece una crisis humanitaria en Puerto Rico, no existe un ápice de interés que mueva a Washington a derogar permanentemente ambas leyes a fin de que redunde a favor de los intereses del pueblo puertorriqueño en estos tiempos aciagos.
La ciudadanía norteamericana, en estas circunstancias, no es un privilegio, sino un carimbo impuesto al esclavo para marcarlo, de forma que rinda con su cuerpo un débito extraño bajo las circunstancias más acuciantes. Se trata de una ciudadanía precaria, sujeta a los límites que el Congreso precisa, sin ninguna interpelación del sujeto a quien se le impone. En estas circunstancias, ser una colonia norteamericana y ser ciudadanos de los EEUU no concede ninguno de los derechos obtenidos por zonas impactadas por los mismos sucesos en territorios norteamericanos. Todo lo contrario. Más bien, la ciudadanía nos convierte en rehenes, en entes prescindibles y en víctimas de una caridad calculada. Es necesario abolir el Acta Jones, que impone restricciones de ingreso de otros buques a la isla, siquiera para tender una mano solidaria. Es necesario abolir la Ley PROMESA, pues Puerto Rico no puede reconstruirse sobre la base de una deuda impagable y fraudulenta. Ambas leyes condenan al país a un futuro económico insostenible que intensificará el éxodo de los puertorriqueños fuera de su isla.
La “ayuda” controlada hasta este momento por los Estados Unidos a través de FEMA transforma las coordenadas de interpretación de este evento. En primer lugar, porque somete a los habitantes de un territorio en crisis a lo que pueda realizar una agencia federal, excluyendo la ayuda que pueda provenir de otros países en este momento crítico. Más allá del paternalismo que ello implica, convierte a los puertorriqueños en rehenes de su condición colonial. Al explotarse el momento de precariedad física por la que pasan, promueve el que devenga servilismo psicológico. Hay que preocuparse por la imagen del puertorriqueño que puede crearse a partir de esta emergencia, ahora que más frágil y precarias son las condiciones, mientras incrementan y se tornan más visibles los uniformes.
Se propicia el chantaje sentimental, se demora el esfuerzo ante una población que el gobierno federal considera prescindible y se confirma la indiferencia con el cercenamiento de la solidaridad con otros pueblos hermanos al impedirse que fluya otro tipo de ayuda.
Se reduce al puertorriqueño al “amparo” de un país, se bloquean otras ayudas humanitarias, se le coloca al borde de la desaparición arriesgando la vida de miles que aún se hallan incomunicados.
Se desconoce el fin último de este toldo de ayuda federal. La creciente militarización de dicha ayuda humanitaria en un momento en que los puertorriqueños están absolutamente incomunicados y desprovistos no anuncian un futuro claro.
Torna la inminente transformación de este estado de emergencia en una oportunidad para medrar económicamente, mientras cientos de personas mueren por falta de agua, alimentos y tratamiento médico. Ninguna razón política o económica justifica la muerte de pacientes de diabetes que no poseen los medios para enfriar sus dosis de insulina ni la de pacientes de diálisis que han visto sus tratamientos interrumpidos por falta de electricidad. Las consecuencias de este bloqueo a la solidaridad podrían ser mayores que las víctimas producidas por el huracán mismo. En medio de una crisis humanitaria, el Presidente insiste en ratificar y exigir el cumplimiento del pago de la deuda crediticia. Ante su posición, es necesario acudir a otros medios. Es preciso abolir la Ley PROMESA. No es hora de invocar los falsos derechos inherentes a una ciudadanía de segundo grado, sino clamar por el derecho de todo ser humano a la vida.
Ante esta situación de hechos, exigimos:
Áurea María Sotomayor Miletti, University of Pittsburgh
Juan Carlos Rodríguez, Georgia Tech University
Sheila I. Vélez Martínez. University of Pittsburgh
Myrna García Calderón, Syracuse University
María de Lourdes Dávila, New York University
Nemir Matos Cintrón, Ana G. Mendez, Florida Adriana Garriga López, Kalamazoo College
Luis Othoniel Rosa, University of Nebraska
César A. Salgado, University of Texas, Austin
Lena Burgos Lafuente, Stony Brook University
Kahlil Chaar-Pérez, Editor and independent translator
Rubén Ríos, New York University
Julio Ramos, University of California, Berkeley
Arnaldo Cruz Malavé, Fordham University
Jossianna Arroyo, University of Texas, Austin
Miguel Rodríguez Casellas, University of Technology
Sydney Licia Fiol-Matta, New York University
Juan Carlos Quintero-Herencia, University of Maryland
Dafne A. Duchesne Sotomayor, Rutgers University, New Brunswick
René A. Duchesne Sotomayor, Junior Architect, Pittsburgh
Margarita Pintado Burgos, Ouachita, Baptist University
Kelvin Durán Berríos, University of Pittsburgh
Edgard Luis Colón Meléndez, University of Pittsburgh
Gustavo Quintero, University of Pittsburgh
Urayoán Noel, New York University
Jaime Rodríguez Matos, California State University, Fresno
María Dolores Morillo López, California State University, Fresno
Ivette Romero, Marist College
Rocío Zambrana, University of Oregon
César Colón Montijo, Columbia University
Ivette N. Hernández-Torres, University of California at Irvine
Yolanda Martínez-San Miguel, University of Miami/Rutgers University
Wanda Rivera-Rivera, Brearley School, New York
James Cohen, Université Paris 3, Sorbonne Nouvelle
Nayda Collazo Lloréns, Kalamazoo College, Michigan
Cristina Moreiras-Menor, University of Michigan
Odette Casamayor, University of Connecticut, Storrs
José Quiroga, Emory University
Cristel Jusino Díaz, New York University
Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes, University of Michigan
Eliseo Colón Zayas, University of Puerto Rico
Nelson Maldonado-Torres, Rutgers University, New Brunswick
Pamela Voekel, Dartmouth College
Diana Taylor, New York University
Alejandra Olarte, Universidad de La Salle, Bogotá
Jasón Cortés, Rutgers University, Newark
Yara Liceaga, Writer and Cultural Activist
Diana Guemarez Cruz, Montclair University
Luis F. Avilés, University of California, Irvine
Ramón López, Hunter College
Carina del Valle Schorske, Columbia University
Pablo Delano, Trinity College
Arlene Dávila, New York University
Néstor E. Rodríguez, University of Toronto
Efraín Barradas, University of Florida, Gainsville
Raquel Salas Rivera, University of Pennsylvania
Ronald Mendoza de Jesús, University of California
Iván Chaar-López, University of Michigan
María R. Scharrón-del Río, Brooklyn College, CUNY
Miguel Luciano, Artist
Monxo López, Hunter University
Guillermo Irizarry, University of Connecticut
Myrna García-Calderón, Syracuse University
Cecilia Enjuto Rangel, University of Oregon
Iván Chaar-López, University of Michigan
Manuel G. Avilés-Santiago, Arizona State University
Ángel Rivera, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Claudia Sofía Garriga-López, New York University
Mónica Alexandra Jiménez, University of Texas, Austin
Reynaldo Padilla, University of Puerto Rico
Mónica E.Lugo-Vélez, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Luis J. Cintrón-Gutiérrez, University at Albany/SUNY
Jorell A. Meléndez-Badillo, University of Connecticut, Storrs
Jonathan Montalvo, Graceland University
Sandra Casanova, Binghamton University
Diana Guemárez-Cruz, Montclair State University
María del Mar González, Independent Scholar
Alai Reyes Santos, University of Oregon
Nayda Collazo-Lloréns, Kalamazoo College
Isa Rodríguez-Soto, University of Akron
Marcela Guerrero, Whitney Museum of American Art
Vanessa Arce Senati, University of Buffalo
José G. Luiggi-Hernández, Duquesne University
Moisés Agosto-Rosario, Director of Treatment at NMAC, Washington DC
Patricia Villalobos Echeverría, Western Michigan University
Christina A. León, Princeton University
Frances Aparicio, Northwestern University
Beliza Torres Narváez, Augsburg University
Judith Sierra-Rivera, The Pennsylvania State University
Joshua G. Ortiz Baco, The University of Texas, Austin
Lcdo. Gabriel E. Laborde Torres, Goldstein & Associates Cristina Pérez Jiménez, Manhattan College
Jorge Irizarry Vizcarrondo, J. D.
Nicole Cecilia Delgado, La Impresora
Cristina Pérez Jiménez, Manhattan Colege
Santa Arias, University of Kansas
Daniel Nevarez, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Sally A. Everson, University of the Bahamas
Aurora Santiago-Ortiz, J.D. University of Massachusetts
Valeria Grinberg Pla, Bowling Green State University
Joseph A. Torres-González, City University of New York
Marco A. Martínez Penn State University
Jessica Mulligan, Providence College
José Martínez-Reyes, University of Massachusetts, Boston
Halbert Barton, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Long Island University
José R. Irizarry, Villanova University
Jorell A. Meléndez-Badillo, University of Connecticut, Storrs
Isatis M. Cintrón, Rutgers University
Karrieann Soto Vega, Syracuse University
José R. Días-Garayúa, California State University Stanislaus
Marisol LeBrón, Dickinson College
Giovanna Guerrero-Median, Yale Ciencia Initiative, Puerto Rico
Agustín Laó-Montes, University of Massachusetts at Amherst
Luis J. Beltran Álvarez, University of Connecticut, Storrs
Shariana Ferrer-Núñez, Purdue University
Catalina de Onís, Willamette University
Selma Feliciano-Arroyo, University of Pennsylvania
Emma Amador, Brown University
Frances Negrón-Muntaner, Columbia University
Liza Goldman Huertas, MD, West Haven, CT
José Quiroga, Emory University
Carlos Gardeazábal Bravo, University of Connecticut
Alexa S. Dietrich, Wagner College
Maritza Stanchich, Universidad de Puerto Rico, Río Piedras
Don E. Walicek, Universidad de Puerto Rico, Río Piedras
Yadira Pérez Hazel, University of Melbourne
Salvador Vidal-Ortiz, American University
Carlos E. Rodríguez-Díaz, Universidad de Puerto Rico-Recinto de Ciencias Médicas
Stephanie Mercado Irizarry, University of Connecticut, Storrs
Libertad Guerra, Director of the Loisaida Cultural Center
Alfredo Villanueva-Collado, CUNY
Joaquín Villanueva, Gustavus Adolphus College
Laura Briggs, University of Massachusetts
Maximilian Alvarez, University of Michigan
Ivonne del Valle, University of California, Berkeley
Francisco Cabanillas, Bowling Green State University
Jason Ortiz, Hartford CT, President CT Puerto Rican Agenda
Carlos Amador, Michigan Technological University
Karen Graubart, History, University of Notre Dame
Raul Santiago Bartolomei, University of Southern California
Sol Price, School of Public Policy, University of South California
Oscar Ariel Cabezas, UMCE, Santiago de Chile
Féliz Padilla Carbonell, University of Connecticut
Juan Sánchez, Hunter College, CUNY
Laura Marina Boria González, University of Texas at Austin
Daniel Torres Rodríguez, Ohio University
Anne Garland Mahler, University of Virginia
Vanessa Pérez-Rosario, Brooklyn College/CUNY
Jean Carlos Rosario Mercado, City University of New York
Carlos J. Carrión Acevedo, Universidad de Puerto Rico
Ryan Mann-Hamilton, CUNY Laguardia
José R. Díaz-Garayúa, California State University, Stanislaus
Juana Goergen, De Paul University
Pepón Osorio, Temple University
Ingrid Robyn, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Carlos Fonseca, Cambridge University
Jacqueline Loss, University of Connecticut
Pamela Cappas-Toro, Stetson University
Michelle Osuna-Díaz, KIPP Austin
Kristina Medina, St. Olaf College
Jennifer S. Hughes, University of California, Riverside
Jorge Matos- Valdejulli, Hostos Community College, CUNY
Mariana Cecilia Velázquez, Columbia University
Carmen Rabell, Universidad de Puerto Rico
Pedro López Adorno, Hunter College
Luis J. Cintrón Gutiérrez, University at Albany, SUNY
Idania Miletti, Orlando, Florida
Javier Román Nieves, Yale School of Forestry
Kaliris Y. Salas Ramírez, CUNY School of Medicine
María M. Carrión, Emory University
Stephanie Mercado, University of Connecticut
Arturo Arias, University of California, Merced
Cristián Gómez Olivares, Case Western University, Ohio
John Beverley, University of Pittsburgh
Ana Dopico, New York University
Irizelma Robles, Universidad de Puerto Rico
Mónica Barrientos Olivares, Universidad de Chile
Roger Santibañez, Temple University
Eddie S. Ortiz, Bike Courier
Ivette Román Roberto, Artist
Malena Rodríguez Castro, Universidad de Puerto Rico, Río Piedras
Sally Everson, University of The Bahamas
Jorell Meléndez Badillo, University of Connecticut
Elizabeth Monasterios, University of Pittsburgh
Daniel Balderston, University of Pittsburgh
Tania Pérez Cano, University of Massachusetts
Dartmouth Dolores Lima, University of Pittsburgh
Mariela Dreyfus, New York University
Jerome Branche, University of Pittsburgh
Karen Goldman, University of Pittsburgh
Gonzalo Lamana, University of Pittsburgh
Daynalí Flores Rodríguez, Illinois Weslean University
Cynthia Román, Latin American Association, Atlanta
Rosa M. Connor Acevedo, Williams College
Eyda M. Merediz, University of Maryland, College Park
Iliana Pagán, West Chester University
Nicole Delgado, La Impresora
Sergio Gutiérrez Negrón, Oberlin College
Ronald Mendoza-de Jesús, University of South California
Yomaira Figueroa, Michigan State University
Joshua Ortiz Baco, University of Texas, Austin
Mario Mercado Díaz, Rutgers University
Carla Acevedo-Yates, Michigan State University
Frances Aparicio, Northwestern University
Luis Aponte, University of Massachusetts, Boston
Miguel Cruz-Díaz, Indiana University, Bloomington
Ricardo Monge, Artist
Marina Reyes Franco, Curator
Bianca Premo, Florida State University, History
Talía Guzmán González, University of Maryland
Jara Rios, University of Wisconsin
Yasmin Ramirez, Hunter College, CUNY
Mark Schuller, Northern Illinois University
Karen Cresci, UnMdP-CONICET
Cecilia Palmeiro, NYU BA
Mara Mahía, Writer and Independent Journalist
Wadda C. Ríos-Font, Barnard University
Harry Vélez, University of Puget Sound
Roberto Castillo Sandoval, Haverford College
Gabriel Giorgi, New York University
Claudia Salazar, Brooklyn College/NYU
Luz M. Betancourt
Bobby Rivera, St. John University
Alicia Díaz, University of Richmond
Ben Sifuentes-Jáuregui, Rutgers University
Miriam Margarita Basilio, Art History and Museum Studies, NYU
Eri Saikawa, Emory University
Lynne Huffer, Emory University
Angelika Bammer, Emory University
Natalie Belisle, University of Southern California
Juan Sánchez, Hunter College, CUNY
Melanie Pérez Ortiz, Universidad de Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Diana Aldrete, Trinity College
Willmai Rivera Pérez, Southern University
Joanna Marshall, Universidad de Puerto Rico, Cayey
Mara Pastor, Pontificia Universidad Católica, Ponce
Alexandre Alaric, Université des Antilles
Nancy Calomarde, Universidad de Rosario
Yvonne Sanavitis, Universidad de Puerto Rico
Enid Álvarez, Universidad de Puerto Rico, Río Piedras
Nadia Prado, Writer, Chile
Rafael Acevedo, Writer, Universidad de Puerto Rico
￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼José Punsoda Díaz, Universidad de Puerto Rico, Río Piedras
Rosario Caicedo, Connecticut
Leonardo E. Carrero, TD Bank
Sebastián Urli, Bowdoin College
Roberto Castillo Sandoval, Haverford College
Anabel López-García, New York University
Claudia Salazar, Brooklyn College
Alma Concepción, Artist, New Jersey
Isolda Ortega Bustamante
Jaime Dávila, Hampshire College
Luz M. Betancourt, Artist, New York
Alicia Díaz, University of Richmond
Bobby Rivera, Saint John’s University, NY
Leonardo E. Castro Martínez, TD Bank
Yoryie Irizarry, Lawyer, NY
Melinda Andorínha González
Sonia Labrador Rodríguez, New College of Florida
Alicia Ortega, Universidad de Quito, Ecuador
Ana Ramos Zayas, Yale University
Rebecca Mundo, INBA, CENIDID, Danza
José Limón, INBA, México
John Torres, Writer, Puerto Rico
Manuel S. Almeida, Teórico Político, San Juan
Marla Pagán Matos, Universidad de Puerto Rico
Javier Contreras V., Centro de Investigación Coreográfica, INBA, México
Margarita Saona, University of Illinois, Chicago
Taína Figueroa, Emory University
Jacques Lezra, University of California, Riverside
Tracy Scott, Emory University
Munia Bhaumik, Emory University
Luis Girón Negrón, Harvard University
Lourdes Martínez Echazaval, University of California, Santa Cruz
￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼Abraham Acosta, University of Arizona
Minerva Cordero Braña, University of Texas at Arlington
Manuela Ceballos, University of Tennessee
Melinda Robb, Emory University
Cathare Ngoh, Emory University
Megan Saltzman, West Chester University
Sean Meigoo, Emory University
Pat Meisteller, Emory University
Sonia Báez Hernández, Artist, Miami, Florida
José Calvo, Law Professor, Universidad de Sevilla
Marisol Negrón, University of Massachusetts, Boston
Michael Rodríguez Muñiz, Northwestern University
Ana Aparicio, Northwestern University
Debb Vargas, Rutgers University
Curtiz Marez, University of California, San Diego
Alberto Rodríguez, Dickinson College
Elizabeth Davis, Ohio State University
Julie Skurki, CUNY
Joanna Marshall, Universidad de Puerto Rico, Cayey
Robert F. Alegre, University of New England
Elizabeth Oglesby, University of Arizona
Rosa O’ Connor Acevedo, University of Puerto Rico
Ana Irma Rivera Lassén, Lawyer, San Juan, Puerto Rico
María Elba Torres Muñoz, Universidad de Puerto Rico, Río Piedras
Miguel Valderrama, Universidad de Chile
Magali García Ramis, Writer, San Juan
Elizabeth Robles, Artist and Writer, San Juan
Rodrigo Karmy, Universidad de Chile
Medzouar El Idrissi, Universidad Abdelmalek Essaudi, Tetuán, Tánger
León Félix Batista, Writer, Dominican Republic
Kenya C. Dworkin y Méndez, Carnegie Mellon University
￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼Ana Longoni, CONICET, Universidad de Buenos Aires
María Collazo Rivera, Universidad de Puerto Rico
María Julia Dávila Collazo, Geographer, Puerto Rico
Efrén Collazo Rivera, Premier Homes Realty, PR
Domingo Dávila, Retiree, Puerto Rico
Roadney Rivera, Universidad de Puerto Rico
María Fernanda Pampín, Universidad de Buenos Aires, CONICET
José Olmo, Boricua College, NYC
Rafael Texidor Robles, Lawyer, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Mercedes Roffé, Writer, New York
Dante del Águila, Actor, Perú
Mario Biagini, Grotowski and Tomás Richards Workcenter, Italy
Eduardo Lalo, Writer, Universidad de Puerto Rico, Río Piedras
The president told residents to be “very proud” they hadn’t endured a “real catastrophe” like Katrina, doing little to erase the impression that he sees hurricane relief more as a political story than a human one.
By David A. Graham
October 3, 2017
Making his first appearance in hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico since Maria’s landfall, President Trump offered a hearty round of congratulations to federal relief efforts and thanked the island’s governor. But the president also suggested Maria was not a “real catastrophe,” made an odd and misleading comparison to the death toll from Hurricane Katrina, and joked about how the hurricane would affect the federal budget.
It was a typically strange, disjointed appearance by the president, and it came just days after Trump spent much of the weekend picking fights with the mayor of San Juan and insisting that, against all evidence, the recovery effort had largely responded to Puerto Rico’s needs. At Muñiz Air Force Base, Trump was eager to praise the work of federal agencies, including FEMA, the Air Force, the Navy, and the Coast Guard, amid a chorus of criticism that Washington’s response has been too slow and too small. But that praise led him in strange directions.
“Every death is a horror, but if you look at a real catastrophe like Katrina, and you look at the tremendous hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people that died, and you look at what happened here and what is your death count? Sixteen people, versus in the thousands,” Trump said. “You can be very proud. Sixteen versus literally thousands of people.”
That statement is problematic in several ways. The idea that Maria was not a “real catastrophe” defies all evidence, and any discussion of the death toll is premature. While the official number remains at 16, where it has been for several days without update, officials have acknowledged it will end up much higher. The Center for Investigative Journalism reported Monday that “dozens” of people are dead, with bodies piling up in morgues, even as the official count has not kept pace. Trump’s decision to use Hurricane Katrina as a benchmark also makes little sense and belittles the suffering in Puerto Rico. Katrina is both the deadliest hurricane in U.S. history since 1928 and a prime example of a mismanaged disaster. Trump also overstated the toll of Katrina, which was less than 2,000.
Trump also misstated Maria’s strength at landfall. “Few people have ever even heard of a Category 5 hitting land, but it hit land, and boy did it hit land,” he said, but the storm was a Category-4 storm when it struck. Trump also said the Coast Guard had saved 16,000 lives in Texas. It’s unclear where he got that number; the Coast Guard has claimed 11,000 rescues.
Later, after his briefing, Trump visited a church where he tossed toilet paper and paper towels into the crowd, shooting them like basketballs to a crowd.
Throughout the aftermath of the storm, Trump has often appeared more interested in the political ramifications of the storm than on the human effects, focusing on approval of himself and the federal government (though he doesn’t really draw a distinction between the two). This was also true at Muñiz Air Force Base. In praising Governor Ricardo Rosselló, for example, Trump reached for the lens of partisan affiliation.
“He’s not even from my party and he started right at the beginning appreciating what we did,” Trump said. “Right from the beginning, this governor did not play politics. He was saying it like it was, and he gave us the highest rates.”
This was an implicit jab at San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, who has been critical of relief efforts, and whom Trump claimed over the weekend was doing so because Democrats had put her up to it. As I noted, his broadside against Cruz serves as a warning to politicians like Rosselló not to follow her lead, lest Trump punish them too. (Speaking in Washington Tuesday, before taking off, Trump said of Cruz, “Well, I think she’s come back a long way. I think it’s now acknowledged what a great job we’ve done, and people are looking at that.” It’s unclear what he is referring to. She attended Tuesday’s briefing.)
Trump also greeted Jenniffer González-Colón, a Republican who is Puerto Rico’s delegate to the U.S. House, and asked her to praise federal efforts.
“I watched the other day and she was saying such nice things about a lot of the people who are working so hard,” he said. “Jenniffer, do you think you could say a little bit what you said about us? It’s not about me, it’s about these incredible people from the military, from FEMA, the first responders.”
Yet as with his premature celebration of the death toll, Trump’s comments about Puerto Rico and Maria still fell far short of empathy, and were in some cases strangely tone-deaf. Before leaving for Puerto Rico, Trump complained that rather than the federal government not doing enough, it was Puerto Rican authorities who weren’t doing enough to hasten the recovery.
“On a local level, they have to give us more help,” he said in Washington. “But I will tell you, the first responders, the military, FEMA, they have done an incredible job in Puerto Rico.”
During his briefing, he made an apparent attempt at a joke about the cost of recovery. “I hate to tell you Puerto Rico, but you’ve thrown our budget a little out of whack,” he said. “That’s fine. We saved a lot of lives.” Yet the remark comes in the context of Trump repeatedly mentioning Puerto Rico’s debts as both a reason for the slow recovery and a reason to think hard about reconstruction there. Nor did he make similar remarks after hurricanes in Texas and Florida.
Meanwhile, after thanking an Air Force general present at the briefing, Trump went on a strange digression about the F-35 fighter jet, a troubled boondoggle whose cost Trump negotiated down with the manufacturer. The discussion of the plane was roughly as lengthy as the president’s discussion of the victims of the storm, and it had nothing to do with the hurricane. If the Puerto Rico visit sought to reverse the impression that Trump has not taken Maria seriously and does not feel empathy for its victims, Tuesday’s briefing did not help the cause.
[David A. Graham is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he covers U.S. politics and global news.]
Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO
October 4, 2017
NEWARK, N.J., Oct. 4, 2017 – Today, the AFL-CIO, the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA), the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) and United Airlines teamed up to fly more than 300 first responders and skilled volunteers—including nurses, doctors, electricians, engineers, carpenters and truck drivers—to Puerto Rico to help with relief and rebuilding efforts.
The flight was one way to respond to the urgent need to get highly skilled workers to Puerto Rico to help people seeking medical and humanitarian assistance as well as to help with the rebuilding effort. While in Puerto Rico, workers will coordinate with the Puerto Rico Federation of Labor and the city of San Juan on various efforts, including helping clear road blockages, care for hospital patients, deliver emergency supplies, and restore power and communications.
United Airlines volunteered a 777-300, one of the largest and newest aircraft in its fleet, to airlift this humanitarian relief team to San Juan. In addition to the hundreds of highly skilled workers assembled by the AFL-CIO, the flight was operated by ALPA- and AFA-CWA-represented United Airlines pilots and flight attendants volunteering their time. IAM-represented United ramp employees also will support the flight on the ground in Newark and San Juan.
The flight departed Newark Liberty International Airport at 11 a.m. ET and will arrive at San Juan Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport at approximately 2:45 p.m. ET. The flight also is transporting more than 35,000 pounds of such emergency relief supplies as food, water and essential equipment. The airline has operated more than a dozen flights to and from Puerto Rico, carrying nearly 740,000 pounds of relief-related cargo and more than 1,300 evacuees.
The United aircraft is returning to Newark this evening with evacuees from Puerto Rico. These passengers are being provided complimentary seats as part of United’s ongoing humanitarian relief efforts in Puerto Rico.
“The working families of Puerto Rico are our brothers and sisters. And this incredible partnership will bring skilled workers to the front lines to deliver supplies, care for victims and rebuild Puerto Rico,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “Our movement is at its best when we work together during times of great need. But we are even better when we find common ground and partner with business and industry on solutions to lift up our communities. This endeavor is entirely about working people helping working people in every way possible. In times of great tragedy, our country comes together, and we are committed to doing our part to assist the people of Puerto Rico.”
“When our union sisters and brothers see a need in our national or international community, we don’t ask if we should act, we ask how,” said AFA-CWA International President Sara Nelson. “Today is the result of our collective strength, compassion and commitment to action. I am proud United responded to the call to carry a union of relief workers among America’s working families to care for our sisters and brothers in Puerto Rico. We are united in lifting up our fellow Americans. It is an honor to serve on the volunteer crew of Flight Attendants and Pilots transporting skilled relief workers and returning to New York with hundreds needing safe passage out of Puerto Rico.”
“Our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico need help and this is a race against time,” said Captain Todd Insler, Chairman, ALPA United Airlines. “The ALPA pilots of United Airlines are honored to fly these skilled workers and medical professionals to San Juan today, and will continue to support the humanitarian efforts going forward. We applaud these brave volunteers who are dedicating their time, selflessly leaving their homes and families, and answering the call to help. The strength of the unions represented on this flight comes from workers joining together to help one another. Likewise, the strength of this joint relief effort comes from all of us—labor, management and government—standing together to help our fellow citizens in their time of need.”
“This flight carries not only much-needed supplies and skilled union labor, but also the love and support of more than 33,000 IAM members at United who will continue helping the people of Puerto Rico recover,” said IAM General Vice President Sito Pantoja.
“When our communities call out for help, we can come together and solve the biggest challenges by summoning the best of ourselves. We’ve answered this call many times over the past couple months, and Puerto Rico is no exception,” said Oscar Munoz, CEO of United Airlines. “This flight embodies how working Americans, union leaders and business can unite with a shared sense of purpose to make a life-changing difference at this critical moment. We are deeply grateful to all of the first responders, highly skilled professionals and United employees who are going above and beyond to come to the aid of Puerto Rico.”
Unions throughout America have continued to offer supplies and other volunteer efforts in addition to today’s flight. Members on today’s flight are represented by 20 unions from 17 states.
Contact: Kari Jones, 510-207-4829
October 4, 2017
National Nurses United
posted on Common Dreams
WASHINGTON - A large delegation of 50 volunteer registered nurses from across the U.S. will join a unique, multi-union two-week disaster relief effort heading to Puerto Rico Wednesday morning to provide medical aid in the wake of the ongoing humanitarian crisis following Hurricane Maria.
National Nurses United’s Registered Nurse Response Network (RNRN), a national network of volunteer nurses, has recruited the RN team, a number of whom will be departing Tuesday to meet up with other union members with specialty skills who will be part of a delegation being organized by the AFL-CIO.
(Note to media: to connect with RNs who are participating in the deployment, call 510-433-2759 or 510-273-2246)
RN volunteers will be among the more than 200 volunteers with the AFL-CIO led delegation boarding a flight Wednesday morning from Newark, NJ to Puerto Rico.
The AFL-CIO is working directly with the Puerto Rican Federation of Labor as well as the San Juan mayor’s office.
In Puerto Rico, the RNs will focus on immediate medical needs in local hospitals, nursing homes, and other sites based on immediate need for island residents who have endured unprecedented devastation as a result of the super storm. They will be filling needs identified by the San Juan Mayor’s office as well as other local officials.
Press reports have indicated that in addition to the general poor conditions, hospitals have been overwhelmed struggling to meet medical needs, clinics and doctor’s offices have failed to re-open, patients with chronic illnesses have not had access to needed medications, and concerns are emerging about the potential of cholera and other epidemics.
RNRN has more than 12 years of experience in providing disaster medical aid following global emergencies dating back to Hurricane Katrina and the deadly South Asia tsunami. Most recently, RNRN volunteers worked in a convention center in Houston and other locales in South Texas after Hurricane Harvey.
[National Nurses United, with close to 185,000 members in every state, is the largest union and professional association of registered nurses in US history.]