Things That Matter

Puerto Rico’s Governor Is Ignoring More Than A Million Puerto Ricans As He Refuses To Give Up Power

Puerto Rico is in full on crisis mode as more than a million Puerto Ricans take to the city streets demanding the governor’s resignation after a series of shocking scandals. Basically every single segment of society has been wronged by the governor and they want him out.

From leaked text messages that were openly misogynistic and homophobic to major allegations of fraud and corruption, Puerto Ricans have had enough and they’re making sure their voices are heard.

Puerto Ricans fed up with their governor took to the streets by the hundreds of thousands to protest against their government.

Puerto Rico saw more massive protests on Monday as hundreds of thousands lined the streets following Governor Ricardo Rosselló’s attempt to cling on to power despite resigning as president of the ruling New Progressive party and announcing he will not run for re-election next year.

A general strike took place across the US territory on Monday morning, protesters chanting the now familiar cry of “Ricky renuncia!”, waving flags and banging drums.

For the governor’s part, in a Facebook Live post, he admitted that a “huge portion of the population is unhappy.”

So he announced he won’t run for re-election next year and was resigning as the president of the New Progressive Party. But that did nothing to calm angry protesters, who say they won’t rest until Rosselló resigns.

I mean the crowds are huge!

Monday marked the tenth straight day of massive protests across the island, but most agreed that Monday’s turn out was the biggest yet.

Many were calling it a general strike as more than a million Puerto Ricans (out of a population of 3.4 million) poured into the streets, parks, plazas, and even shopping centers.

Even Bad Bunny, Residente, and Ricky Martin are there showing their support for protesters.

Credit: @CNNEE / Twitter

As occurred last week, a number of Puerto Rico’s biggest recording artists appeared prominently at Monday’s demonstrations. Singers such as Ricky Martin, himself a subject of homophobic ridicule in the leaked messages, and rappers Resident, Bad Bunny and the singer iLe, have become unofficial figureheads in the leaderless movement to oust Rosselló.

“They mocked our dead, they mocked women, they mocked the LGBT community, they made fun of people with physical and mental disabilities, they made fun of obesity. It’s enough,” Martin said in a video posted on Twitter before the march.

“We’re we’re going to keep fighting, we’re going to keep being on the streets until he resigns,” iLe told the Guardian. “He knows he has to go in his heart. I know he knows it.”

Protesters aren’t messing around. They’re taking to the streets and blocking access to major highways.

Credit: @cnnbrk / Twitter

Puerto Rico’s largest mall, Plaza de las Américas, closed before Monday’s demonstration along with many other businesses. Last week police used teargas and rubber bullets to disperse protesters at a huge rally outside the governor’s residence in the island’s capital, San Juan.

But most people on Twitter were so proud to see the people fighting for their future.

Credit: @ananavarro / Twitter

Puerto Ricans from the island to New York, even to Minnesota, were overwhelmed with pride. Many on social media commented that it was amazing to see so many people speaking up for their dignity and their representation. And speaking out against a government that has violated the trust of so many.

Many were commenting that Puerto Rico was showing the rest of the world how to keep on fighting.

Credit: @tomaskenn / Twitter

And there were definitely a few people who were hoping this style of democracy, of massive protests, would make its way to the mainland to fight back against the inhuman policies of President Trump.

The protests are coming after a series of scandals that left Puerto Ricans completely unhappy with their government.

Demonstrations have gripped the island since hundreds of pages of leaked text messages between the governor and 11 members of his inner circle were published on 13 July.

The messages contain homophobic and sexist slurs against political rivals and cultural figures. They also contain a joke about dead bodies during Hurricane Maria, which devastated the island in September 2017.

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Today, Puerto Rico Celebrates Emancipation Day–the Day When the Island Officially Abolished Slavery

Things That Matter

Today, Puerto Rico Celebrates Emancipation Day–the Day When the Island Officially Abolished Slavery

Photo via George W. Davis, Public Domain

Today, March 22nd marks Día de la Abolición de Esclavitud in Puerto Rico–the date that marks the emancipation of slaves in Puerto Rico. In Puerto Rico, enslaved peoples were emancipated in 1873–a full decade after the U.S. officially abolished slavery. But unlike the U.S. mainland, Puerto Rico celebrates today as an official holiday, where many businesses are closed.

The emancipation of Puerto Rican slaves was a very different process than the United States’. For one, the emancipation was gradual and over three years.

When the Spanish government abolished slavery in Puerto Rico 1873, enslaved men and women had to buy their freedom. The price was set by their “owners”. The way the emancipated slaves bought their freedom was through a process that was very similar to sharecropping in the post-war American south. Emancipated slaves farmed, sold goods, and worked in different trades to “buy” their freedom.

In the same Spanish edict that abolished slavery, slaves over the age of 60 were automatically freed. Enslaved children who were 5-years-old and under were also automatically freed.

Today, Black and mixed-race Puerto Ricans of Black descent make up a large part of Puerto Rico’s population.

The legacy of enslaved Black Puerto Ricans is a strong one. Unlike the United States, Puerto Rico doesn’t classify race in such black-and-white terms. Puerto Ricans are taught that everyone is a mixture of three groups of people: white Spanish colonizers, Black African slaves, and the indigenous Taíno population.

African influences on Puerto Rican culture is ubiquitous and is present in Puerto Rican music, cuisine, and even in the way that the island’s language evolved. And although experts estimate that up to 60% of Puerto Ricans have significant African ancestry, almost 76% of Puerto Ricans identified as white only in the latest census poll–a phenomenon that many sociologists have blamed on anti-blackness.

On Puerto Rico’s Día de la Abolición de Esclavitud, many people can’t help but notice that the island celebrates a day of freedom and independence when they are not really free themselves.

As the fight for Puerto Rican decolonization rages on, there is a bit of irony in the fact that Puerto Rico is one of the only American territories that officially celebrates the emancipation of slaves, when Puerto Rico is not emancipated from the United States. Yes, many Black Americans recognize Juneteenth (June 19th) as the official day to celebrate emancipation from slavery, but it is not an official government holiday.

Perhaps, Puerto Rico celebrates this historical day of freedom because they understand how important the freedom and independence is on a different level than mainland Americans do.

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A Judge Has Cleared Former Brazilian President Lula da Silva, Opening Door For Challenge Against Jair Bolsonaro

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A Judge Has Cleared Former Brazilian President Lula da Silva, Opening Door For Challenge Against Jair Bolsonaro

Brazil’s political sphere has been thrown into chaos once again after a judge on the Supreme Court threw out convictions against former president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. The former president, among many others, was tried and convicted in a nationwide corruption sweep but detractors claimed that it was a politically driven campaign against the leftist leader and his supporters.

With his conviction being thrown out, the judge has opened the door to a potential run for the presidency in 2022, against the current president Jair Bolsonaro.

A Supreme Court judge has annulled the criminal convictions against Brazil’s former president, Lula da Silva.

A justice on Brazil’s Supreme Court has annulled corruption convictions against the country’s former leftist president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva — a move that could be the first step toward clearing him to run next year against an increasingly vulnerable President Jair Bolsonaro.

In a surprise decision, Justice Edson Fachin ruled that a court in the southern city of Curitiba did not have the authority to try Lula on corruption charges and that he must be retried in federal courts in the capital, Brasilia.

The decision means Lula would be eligible to run for president next year should he wish to challenge Bolsonaro, said the local newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo.

Hailing the ruling in a Twitter post, Lula said it was “recognition that we have always been correct throughout our legal battle.”

Lula was jailed on corruption charges as part of a national campaign against graft.

The former president, widely known as Lula, who held office from 2003 through 2010, was found guilty in 2017 on corruption and money-laundering charges allegedly for helping a Brazilian engineering company secure lucrative contracts with Petrobras, the country’s state-owned oil company. In exchange, the former president allegedly received a beachfront apartment from the firm. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

The conviction – part of a far-reaching corruption scandal known as Operation Car Wash — knocked the popular Lula out of the 2018 presidential race, where he had hoped to make a comeback. His absence from the race created an opportunity for the novice politician Bolsonaro, a brash right-wing nationalist who has frequently been compared to former U.S. President Donald Trump.

Lula, despite his conviction and sentence, was released from prison in 2019 on grounds that he was denied due process. However, he still faces several other prosecutions.

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