Today is International Workers’ Day, aka May Day: A historic day of strikes and protests for better conditions, fair wages and other issues pertaining to the working class, including immigrants and undocumented workers, all around the world.
In Puerto Rico, May 1 is typically a big deal; protests often center around San Juan’s financial district. Police response has often been brutal, with authorities employing rubber bullets, tear gas, batons and other means of excessive force against protestors en masse.
With the Covid-19 pandemic still rampant, May 1 activities are somewhat muffled for safety reasons. But activists are taking to the internet—and also employing other means, like protest caravans—to make their voices heard.
Conditions on the island in terms of Covid-19 rates are hard to quantify, as many residents aren’t trusting of the health departments reported numbers, and there is little record of how many tests have been actualized. Resistance groups are calling for widespread testing and financial help (federal stimulus money has yet to be delivered, and unemployment claims and payments have been slow to process), among other issues.
Already an economically blighted population in part due to a decades-long recession and government debt, plus recent major natural disasters and inefficient recovery assistance on local and federal levels, the Puerto Rican people need help now more than ever.
Three Puerto Rican artists well known for their activism have signaled support today via Twitter.
See what Bad Bunny, iLe and Residente—all three major players in last summer’s #RickyRenuncia movement—have to say about what’s happening on the island.
Last night’s finale to Puerto Rico Governor Wanda Vazquez’s public address was… offensive. Even if it was an expression of relief after finishing the speech, many see this conduct as disturbing, as if the government is laughing in the face of its suffering people.
Giovanni Roberto is a recognized activist in Puerto Rico, leading up a nonprofit that feeds the hungry. He spoke on behalf of Comedores Sociales in an April 28 feature from El Nuevo Dia. The most recent estimate of Puerto Rico’s poverty rate is 43.1 percent.
Governor Vazquez and her administration denied the opening of public school cafeterias until a few days ago when, after much public protest, she authorized the Department of Education to open a select few.
“On one side you have a corrupt government. On the other, a social leader who works to feed hungry people. Who do you think the Puerto Rican police arrest? Yes, the one who’s doing the right thing.”
Let’s not return to normal, better we start over
Check this story for more on today’s protests in Puerto Rico.