Things That Matter

Puerto Rican Activists Are Leading The Fight For The Removal Of Colonial Monuments On The Island

As activists across the United States continue to rally behind the removal of Confederate statues and symbols of racism, many are doing their part to ensure monuments honoring those who led the genocide of Indigenous people are being toppled as well. In Puerto Rico, a similar call for the removal of such monuments are highlighting the current population’s fight to dethrone tributes to colonization.

In Puerto Rico (and other regions of the United States affected by Spanish colonialism) protests are pushing for the removal of colonial figures.

Statues, public plazas, and roads paying homage to colonizers like Christopher Columbus and Juan Ponce de León can be seen all over Puerto Rico and areas of Florida. Historically both figures have been touted for being “explorers” but their cruel treatment of Puerto Rico’s indigenous Taíno people has only recently being examined. Historical evidence shows that, like other colonizers of the Americas, both men contributed to the near extermination of indigenous populations including Tainos. Columbus in particular is noted for having led a brutal regime that crushed and enslaved these populations.

Activists are speaking out about the statutes and monuments attributed to Columbus and Ponce De Léon.

“It is an act of violence to even have the statues in our homelands,” Elena Ortiz, chair of the Santa Fe Freedom Council of The Red Nation, explained in an interview with USA Today. “It’s not just the statue, but it’s what it represented: the celebration of our genocide.”

“[The conquistadors] brought with them not only these weapons of mass destruction but also the imposition of the Catholic Church and the imposition of a patriarchal government on peaceful matrilineal societies,” Ortiz went onto explain. “Those colonially imposed systems exist to this day, and have impacted generations.”

Across Puerto Rico statues of these historical figures have been toppled in protests responding to the current widespread call to end the support of police brutality and the oppression of minorities.

As USA Today points out, similar actions are taking place in Los Angeles and San Francisco where statues of Junípero Serra have recently been removed or destroyed by protesters. “Without liberation for all, there’s no liberation for any of us,” Ortiz concluded. “Every movement from Black Lives Matter, to defund the police, to tearing down these statues shows a deep, deep dissatisfaction with the state of the world right now.”

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Joe Biden Promises To Fight For Dreamers If Elected In November

Things That Matter

Joe Biden Promises To Fight For Dreamers If Elected In November

Biden For President / Flickr

An overwhelming majority of Americans support protecting Dreamers. Hundreds of thousands of young adults rely on the protection from deportation and work authorization to live with dignity and out of the shadows. Presidential nominee Joe Biden wants to make sure they stay protected.

Dreamers are looking to a Biden administration to finish what an Obama administration started.

Credit: Biden For President / Flickr

According to the official Biden campaign website, the presidential nominee will work with Congress to reinstate DACA protections and to create a pathway to citizenship. DACA was won by undocumented activists putting fear aside and publicly fought to change the minds of Americans and politicans.

“Undocumented ‘youth’ are no longer youth,” says Moises Serrano, DACA activist and the man profiled in the documentary “Forbidden.” “DACA recipients and undocumented immigrants have been living in fear and instability for decades now. We survived eight years under the Obama administration and four years under the Trump administration. Immigration reform was promised under the Obama-Biden platform; a promise that is still unfulfilled.”

He added: “We hope that President Biden puts an end to the instability in our lives once and for all, or we are ready to hold him accountable in the same way we held Obama accountable in our fight for Administrative Relief.”

Biden’s policy proposes protecting Dreamers and helping them advance in this country.

Credit: Biden For President / Flickr

Biden promises to reinstate DACA to protect Dreamers and will be looking into ways to protect their families. The policy put forth by a potential Biden administration is pivotal in giving those who are DACA recipients a chance to live without fear and with all of the rights as their fellow citizens.

“After living through a deep loss in 2016 after losing my second mother and only being granted access to be on her deathbed in Mexico through my ability to get advanced parole through DACA I learned that no loss would ever be greater than that,” said Cindy Nava, a DACA recipient, political operative and policy advocate. “However, November rolled around and another loss took place. One that impacted my life, that of my family and my community.”

DACA is a very important issue as hundreds of thousands of Dreamers are on the line.

Credit: Biden For President / Flickr

People like Nava are hopeful that a Biden administration will bring that dignity back to the immigrant community. It is a community that is vibrant and has contributed vastly to American culture. A BIden administration would be a chance for Nava to see herself reflected in government.

“I am hopeful to see the daughter of immigrants, a woman of color, and a woman I can finally feel represented by be sworn in as the first woman VP of this country,” Nava says. “I will look forward to an administration that listens to the communities it intends to represent. An administration that empowers the entire country to work with each other to support, strengthen, respect and uplift each other each and every day. An administration that values and is grateful for the contributions that immigrants bring to the foundation of our country each and every day.”

Nava wants to see an immigration reform that puts immigrant humanity at the forefront. One that understands the needs for people to seek refuge and a better life in a foreign country.

“No immigrant seeks to find a fix on a silver platter. Nor do they believe that this will be an easy task,” Nava says. “The only thing our families ask for is a chance. Una oportunidad para recordarle a este pais that their lucha and determination comes from a deep sense of ganas to create a life filled with more opportunities than they ever had.”

The battle over DACA is far from over but it is clear that the Trump administration is on the wrong side of public opinion. Biden’s plan would strengthen DACA and restore the program to its full functionality.

READ: Trump Administration Limit DACA Renewals, Blocks New Applications

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Amy Coney Barrett Confirmation: A Road Map To What’s At Stake For Women’s Health And Gay Rights

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Amy Coney Barrett Confirmation: A Road Map To What’s At Stake For Women’s Health And Gay Rights

Photo by HILARY SWIFT/AFP via Getty Images

We are heading into day two of the confirmation hearings that will decide whether of not Amy Coney Barret will fill the vacant spot on the U.S. Supreme Court. The vacancy was left when Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away on September 18th.

The lead up to the hearings has been wrought with controversy, as it was Ginsburg’s dying wish that she wasn’t replaced until after the upcoming election. But President Trump and the rest of GOP hastily pushed through a nomination anyway.

Although Amy Coney Barret is a woman, the similarities between her and the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg mostly end there. After her nomination, media outlets quickly discovered that Amy Coney Barret holds extremely conservative personal views–ones that may affect her future rulings. Here is what is at stake is Amy Coney Barret is confirmed:

What is at stake: A woman’s access to a legal, safe abortion.

Barret holds notoriously conservative views on abortion, which she has previously stated was “always immoral“. In 2006, she signed an advertisement that called Roe v. Wade a “barbaric legacy”. When she was a federal judge, and ruled in favor of further restricting access to abortion rules. Namely, she advocated for a parent to be informed if their minor child wanted to have an abortion.

Some critics of her nomination argue that her extreme devotion to the Catholic faith make her biased against more progressive issues. What Democrats and Pro-Choice groups both fear is that Barret might side with overturning Roe v. Wade, thus stifling abortion rights on a national level.

What is at stake: Access to affordable healthcare for everyone–including those with pre-existing conditions.

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Considering the Affordable Care Act is on the dockets for Supreme Court review a week after election day, Americans who support the Affordable Care Act are worried that Barret will give conservatives the vote they need to cut the program.

Barret has dropped clues of her thoughts about healthcare in the past. In 2012, Barret signed a statement arguing that the Obamacare was “a grave violation of religious freedom and cannot stand.” She has also previously argued that Chief Justice John Roberts loosely interpreted the law in order to keep the ACA intact.

What is at stake: Laws protecting the LGBTQ+ community from discrimination.

During the ongoing confirmation hearing, Barret has already said that she “would never discriminate on the basis of sexual preference”. Critics quickly took issue with her word-choice, arguing that sexuality is not a “preference” but something one is born with.

Her record on LGBTQ+ issues isn’t exactly promising. In 2015, she signed a letter entitled “Letter to Synod Fathers from Catholic Women”. Part of the letter read: “We give witness that the Church’s teachings…on the meaning of human sexuality, the significance of sexual difference and the complementarity of men and women…and on marriage and family founded on the indissoluble commitment of a man and a woman provide a sure guide to the Christian life.”

She was also was a legal fellow at Alliance Defending Freedom–a group that notoriously opposes LGBTQ+ rights. She has since denied she knew of their homophobic stances.

Considering that a high profile case is on the docket that will decide whether churches can discriminate against gay, it is no wonder that gay rights activists are worried.

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