PUERTO RICO: Strengthen the struggle Oct. 27

Every struggle against injustice grows stronger when we join with others to fight it.

On Oct. 27 there will be a historic chance to strengthen the struggle for Puerto Rico by attending — in person or by livestream — the International Tribunal on U.S. Colonial Crimes in Puerto Rico. (puertoricotribunal.org)

Since 1898, when it first invaded Puerto Rico during the war with Spain, U.S. imperialism has occupied, colonized and economically exploited the island of Puerto Rico and its people. Washington has blocked Puerto Rico’s people from deciding their own path. Most recently, U.S. banks and financial exploitation companies, through the U.S.-imposed PROMESA act, have used the 2017 catastrophe of Hurricane Maria to loot what remains of the island’s resources.

The Tribunal’s role exposing this 120-year-long struggle is important for all workers and oppressed peoples in the U.S. This is especially true because so much of the capitalist assault on Puerto Rico parallels the assault on workers in the U.S. Supporting the people of Puerto Rico means supporting your own struggles. It involves the same enemy.

For instance, North Carolina activists highlighted the recent devastation there during Hurricane Florence as Duke Power’s coal-ash landfill flooded communities with poison and pollution. In Puerto Rico, activists have been battling coal ash since 2004, including during Hurricane Maria. Applied Energy Systems and its affiliates have dumped more than 4 million tons of coal ash on the island. (tinyurl.com/y9h5z6me)

What an opportunity for environmentalists to unite in breaking the hold of power companies that poision the environment!

Puerto Rico’s teachers have been fighting to stop the U.S.-imposed Fiscal Control Board — whose goal is paying off bank loans — from attacking teacher seniority, privatizing public community schools and failing to repair schools damaged by last year’s hurricanes.

Rank-and-file teachers in the U.S. who have led historic #Red4Ed strikes and walkouts of students, schools and communities have much in common with Puerto Rican teachers. Uniting with the struggle on the island would amplify the power of all education workers.

Other shared struggles include the fight in many cities in the U.S., like Detroit, against the takeover of local autonomy by financial “boards” whose goal is to strip city services to repay bank loans.

Among the many distinguished supporters of the Tribunal is Rafael Cancel Miranda, a Puerto Rican hero, who, on March 1, 1954, along with Lolita Lebrón, Irving Flores and Andrés Figueroa Cordero, fired on the U.S. Congress to bring attention to the colonial status of Puerto Rico, which had just been made a U.S. commonwealth.

His support highlights the issue that is most central to the Tribunal — how to build a people’s campaign in solidarity with the Puerto Rican people to end their colonial status and achieve self-determination and justice.

The Tribunal gives all activists a chance to gather our strength and strategize for justice. Right now those reading these lines can endorse and donate in support at puertoricotribunal.org.

On Oct. 27, let’s show up at the Tribunal — against racist arrogance, inhumane depredation, and colonizing, imperialist U.S. domination. Let’s show up for Puerto Rico!

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