Returning to perform in his native Puerto Rico after three years, Residente drew thousands to his Saturday homecoming concert at the Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan. The Calle 13 co-founder, née Rene Perez, has been outspoken and critical of the inefficient relief efforts following Hurricane María, and during his performance, he didn’t miss the opportunity to show more solidarity.
Between songs, a representative from one of the island’s most committed political resistance collectives, Jornada: Se Acabaron Las Promesas, delivered a rallying call to organize to the massive crowd.
In a powerful speech, spokesperson Jocelyn Velázquez said, “The fight against the Fiscal Control Board is a fight for life. It is a fight for the subsistence of our people: The closing of schools; the removal of pensions from our elderly; the cutting our labor rights; that nine months after Hurricane Maria, there are still thousands of communities without light, and with plastic [tarp] roofs.
That is the Puerto Rico that we are living today, and the one that we have to defend. The one that we have to rebuild for ourselves. There is a plague of crooks and corrupt people here who have destroyed the country.
Our duty is to take to the street. How are we going to do it? Each of you decides how. It can be artistic, it can be in cultural ways. Organize yourself in your school, in your neighborhood, in your community. However you like. The important thing here is to make the country ungovernable to these terrorists in ties.
We urge you all to mobilize, to join the national calls to organize. So that our voice becomes a cry heard by the world, and that they understand that in Puerto Rico, it is time to change, to transcend the political course, and that we have the right to govern ourselves. Finally, I would very much like to share a chant that we have sung in some demonstrations, and that all of you repeat it with me, and that is: If the future is in debt, the present is revolt.
The promises are over. Thank you very much.“
Jornada: Se Acabaron Las Promesas was at the forefront of the May 1 National Strike against the U.S.-imposed Fiscal Control Board and the Puerto Rican government’s implementation of austerity measures – the closure of more than 200 schools, privatization of government entities, tuition hikes at the University of Puerto Rico, cuts to pensions, and the reduction of labor protections for workers. Along with other groups in resistance and individuals at the protest, the collective was ultimately met with tear gas, pepper spray, and rubber bullets from Puerto Rican police, and multiple arrests were made.
But the island remains in resistance – multiple manifestations have followed the May 1 event, and another protest, this one specifically against the government’s intimidation tactics, is slated for Wednesday at the Puerto Rico police department headquarters.