Reflections on Anarchism in Borikén (Puerto Rico) after Hurricane Maria and #RickyRenuncia

  • Posted on: 2 September 2019
  • By: thecollective

From The Final Straw Radio

“We either organize or we die, our lives depend on this!” – Reflections on Anarchism in Borikén (Puerto Rico) after Hurricane Maria and #RickyRenuncia

Anarchist Perspectives in Puerto Rico

Download Episode Here

This week we have the opportunity to share a talk by Coco (they/them pronouns), who is a queer, Black, Puerto Rican anarchist about the recent 17 days of direct action against no-longer-governor Ricardo Rosselló and organizing as an anarchist after Hurricane Maria.

They talk about some of the lead up to these revolts – about the fascist campaign and term of office of Ricardo Rosselló -, the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, decolonization and fighting US imperialism as it relates to PR, queer people and femmes on the front lines of the protests about Ricardo Rosselló, the active warping of this situation by media outlets, and many many more topics!

Coco originally presented this talk at the Another Carolina Anarchist Bookfair 2019 on Saturday August 24th.

I wanna give voice to something that came up in the Q&A after the talk, which was not recorded, in which Coco made space for an open conversation about revolt in Puerto Rico. They asked of the audience what we thought when #RickyRenuncia was trending on Twitter, and people were saying stuff like “we need to look to PR and learn from people there in order to figure out what to do where we’re at”. And a really good conversation wound out about disaster/riot tourism that has always been a problematic current on the far left, especially where the struggles of non-white folks are concerned. It was located in that conversation that the support of people interfacing with struggle that isn’t theirs is very conditional and fragile, and it was stated by participants of the conversation that there needs to be another way of looking at struggle that doesn’t involve an attitude of entertainment style consumption but rather comes from a place of real solidarity and real support.

As Coco stated, the media has really been messing with the narrative of what has been going on in PR, painting it either as super pacifist or like people are “out of control hooligans” or other such nonesense. For better sources of information, you can visit our blog at thefinalstrawradio.noblogs.org where we will post links to people and accounts you can follow who are on the ground or have a perspective that isn’t beholden to the larger capitalist media outlets.

Those links are:

https://twitter.com/_DESinformate

https://twitter.com/TodasPR

https://twitter.com/ClaridadPR

https://twitter.com/80grados

Here is an announcement on behalf of the upcoming Queer Conference at UNC Asheville:

Communities? Will a rainbow flag on a police car protect queer folks from a culture built around (trans)misogyny / misogynoir and sexual assault?

We are constantly reminded that our culture is still built on anti-black, anti-queer violence by the all too frequent murders of black transwomen, the further criminalization of queer sex workers, and the erasure of rural LGBTQ+ identities experiencing the pains of addiction, joblessness, and lack of resources. Today, we are at another fork in the road, where there is nominal acceptance of certain gay and lesbian identities (namely white, educated, middle-class families), while a wide range of experiences of people under the LGBTQ+ umbrella get forgotten. As queerness becomes hip and queer subcultural styles are being bought and sold, we must ask how the culture, lives, and sexuality behind the looks can survive and thrive. With the rise of global fascism, the impending doom of large-scale environmental collapse, and the inevitable next crash of capitalism, can we still envision a queerness that seeks liberation rather than admission to the status quo and benefits of a vastly unequal US society? How can we balance these visions with protecting the precarious lives most threatened by the current sociopolitical landscape?

To submit a proposal, follow the link at https://queercon.wp.unca.edu/

For any questions you can email qsconf@unca.edu

. … . ..

Music by:

Princess Nokia – Brujas (instrumental loop by William)

Ruby Ibarra – Us off of Circa 91

Calle 13 – Afilando los Cuchillos, or Sharpening the Knives, which is all about the revolts against Ricardo Rosselló.

Comments

Thank you very much for recording this conference and posting it. I was curious about it.
I’m eager to hear other anarchist perspectives on recently shared experiences, from someone living closer to me.

Here’s my brief notes on the talk, for anyone that may care and does not know any better:

- Pedro Roselló (ex-governor and father of Ricky Roselló, who resigned recently) is mentioned as being “The face of fascism in Puerto Rico and the face of white supremacy.” This would be akin to saying Bill Clinton is the face of fascism and white supremacy in USA. Not so much a contradiction, but not the most precise way to put it, so take that as you will. Both Rosellós are Democrats and consider themselves progressives. This does not exonerate them from any charge, just illustrating to clarify. By the way, there are literal living fascists and white supremacists in P.R., they’re just not very prominent.

Pedro Roselló’s administration was notoriously corrupt but is arguably not even the most appalling ex-governor. Excluding the appointed literal military governors, Luis Muñoz Marín and Romero Barceló have more blood on their hands (Ricky Roselló would follow if you personally hold him accountable for all the deaths cause by hurricane María, which is a bit of a stretch), Aníbal Acevedo Vilá had a Federal accusation (found not guilty) and Luis Fortuño stole more money, generated more debt, and enacted more austerity measures, and benefits for the Elites. And so on, details details.

-“One thing that helped was drug dealers because they already had a hierarchy established in el barrio. […T]he drug dealers actually got to do some community patrolling and organizing the younger people from the community to patrol the community. So we were literally living in kinda anarchy. Except for the hierarchy and all, everything that’s reproduced by drug dealers and how that works.”

So a police narco-state in state of emergency = kinda anarchism?

- A chunk is spent on decrying austerity measures, cuts on government services to able to pay the debt. Was the anarchist response to complain? No mention is made of efforts like the Centros de Apoyo Mutuo, and others of which you can hear about more in past episodes of The Final Straw.

- Speaker is right to note that protests were multi-ideological, but then mistakenly repeatedly calls the protests “direct action”. To push the dissonance to the max, emphasis is placed on the symbolism of the actions. As the speaker did acknowledge, it’s true that these protests were unprecedented in their rowdiness for what’s common here. It was a local innovation in the spectacle of (previously merely protest, now minimally called) revolt.

And that’s it.

About the twitter accounts posted, you will not be surprised to find that these are liberal sources not anarchist in any way.

https://twitter.com/_DESinformate an unremarkable socialist twitter account of a Puerto Rican person(s)?

https://twitter.com/TodasPR Liberal feminist group that's also calling for the government to declare a state of emergency (#EstadoDeEmergencia) due to the women murdered (many by their partners, a lot of them who were cops, at least two of the victims were also cops, in a tragic case of cop on cop violence) alongside Colectiva Feminista en Construcción (@ColeFeminista)which gave an ultimatum to the current administration that if they didn’t declare a state of emergency against gender violence, they would protest. Yes, someone call the cops; the cops are killing women.

It’s important to note the understated role of la Cole in strategic organizing that set the ground and built the momentum and mobilization capability, and then the timely tactical response to the Chat leaks. It allowed to give the impression on the media that people were really pissed off, as a sizable group called by them were present in front of the Fortaleza the night of the leaks. It was claimed that these were a congregation of random people that organically convened in spontaneous response. That would later be the case, and would be appropriate to describe the rest of the days of protest to certain extent.

Of course, all from a liberal activist framework and perspective; protest and representation, idpol, demands. Their only saving grace is that they’re intersectional and queer/transfeminists. It could be worse, they could’ve been liberal “white” feminists or radfems/terfs.

https://twitter.com/ClaridadPR is a pro-independence socialist newspaper which sees the nationalists legacy and identity in a positive light, to understate it. Apologists of Castrismo and Chavismo.

https://twitter.com/80grados is a site that uploads on Fridays jargony meandering texts usually too short and shallow for an essay, too long and self-indulgent for a news article, written by and to a liberal academic audience and authorship.
While we’re at it mentioning liberal news sources Centro de Periodismo Investigativo (http://periodismoinvestigativo.com/), and Bonita Radio (https://www.youtube.com/user/venceree)are better sources of journalism (along with Jay Fonseca, which is popular enough I won’t publicize him). The rest is the mainstream news sources which are good to hear when the next gun storage or toy gun store is robbed. Mainstream newspapers are so badly researched and redacted, they will leave you with more questions than answer. Celebrities on their social media are more informative, and often serve as the mainstream news’ main source for news fodder.

A few celebrities were key for mobilizing a lot of people. Some of these celebrities were directly insulted in the leaked chat. Ricky Martin, P.R.’s biggest pop idol, was one of them. Other 2 key figures are feature on the song they mention “Calle 13 – Afilando los Cuchillos, or Sharpening the Knives, which is all about the revolts against Ricardo Rosselló.” it’s done along with his sister Ile, and the trap and reggaeton rapper Bad Bunny. The latter is a zoomer that is not well read nor into politics, but is enough of his generation, of the streets, the internet, and irreverent enough to call Residente out (a Gen X) on his leftist and conservative bullshit (politely and in jest, they are pals). Residente is put on a pedestal as if he was the most educated and sophisticated artist.

Both are cop-hugging liberals that just a few months before the protest against the governor they helped make resign, both went up to La Fortaleza to speak with him to discuss anti-crime measures, among which were raising the cops’ salaries.
And speaking of music and reggaeton, “perreo combativo” was one of the highlights (along with Rey Charlie’s motorcade, and other moments): in which the most prominent church in San Juan, known by the misnomer of cathedral, was desecrated and desacralized by lgbtq+ folx grinding and twerking. Next best thing short of setting it on fire, which best avoided there, so as not to be accused of copying Paris (some people wearing reflective vests were spotted, which is embarrassing enough). So points for originality and local flavor. The fires were set elsewhere as diversion, so they could dance uninterrupted.

References:
https://vimeo.com/350139441
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gx-G0txXEdA
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MBAA6qKdgTw

4 cars set on fire on police precinct parking in Vega Baja a 3am. the fire was started in a car that was seized for criminal investigation, and spread to the rest. 2 were cop cars.
police hypothesis is someone was trying to get rid of evidence on that car that was set on fire. likely, but
maybe it was a case of spontaneous vehicle combustion, or swamp gas. maybe if you pray, cop cars set themselves on fire.

https://www.elnuevodia.com/noticias/seguridad/nota/quemancuatrovehiculos...

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