The Summer of 2019 marked a pivotal moment in the history of people’s struggles in the island of Puerto Rico. Two weeks of massive protests culminated in the ousting of then-governor Ricardo Roselló. Our event explores how this protest was a response to humiliation, corruption, and austerity measures imposed by a “fiscal oversight board,” and also to a deeper crisis rooted in the colonial history of the island and to Disaster Capitalism woven together. The governing political and economic elites are responsible for the material impacts of Hurricane Maria’s mismanagement, as they have prioritized opening markets and private enterprise over the incremental death rate, lack of water, destruction of infrastructure, and closing of schools. Imposing austerity measures deepened the existing debt crisis in Puerto Rico and deepened the indignation of the middle and working classes. The revelation of the governor’s classist, racist, homophobic, death-mocking, and politics-playing communications with his inner circle triggered the massive response and exposed the intersectionality of oppressions that Puerto Ricans have endured, along with decades of failed neo-liberal economic policies and corruption. These constitute an ongoing colonial process of structuring inequality through accumulation by dispossession and exploitation to which the Island was subject even before becoming a colony of the United States.
The Puerto Rico Summer Uprising event aims to understand the mobilizing efforts before and after the #PuertoRicanSummer through the perspectives of labor activists, artists, and civil rights monitors, and to share lessons of participatory democracy and resistance in the 21st century. Most of all we want to explore what comes next: what are families, communities and organizations envisioning for their present and their future emancipation? What is our role as US citizens in this pivotal moment in the history of the relationship between empire and colony?
This event is free and open to the public. ID is required to enter the building.
Co-sponsored by the Latinx Project, the Hemispheric Institute of Performance & Politics, and the North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA)
About the speakers:
Tomás Urayoán Noel (Moderator) is Associate Professor of English and Spanish and Portuguese at New York University, and taught at SUNY Albany from 2008 to 2014. He is the author of In Visible Movement: Nuyorican Poetry from the Sixties to Slam (Iowa, 2014) and several books of poetry, as well as a translator, performer, and media artist.
Lale Namerrow Pastor is a woman and transfeminist person. Born in Rió Piedras and raised in Puerto Nuevo to a Dominican mother and absent father. They completed undergraduate studies in Photography and Art History at the University of Puerto and continued academic studies in Film Production and Direction at the New York Film Academy in New York City. Lale currently resides in Puerto Rico, where they are a distinguished musical curator in the subversive queer/cuir scene, archival researcher, and audio visual producer. Among so much, they are Caribbean, activist, videographer, editor, advisor, partner, marica, pata, turba, and possibly everything that fits between those labels.
Mariana Nogales-Molinelli is an Attorney at Law and Notary Public. A graduate from the University of Puerto Rico School of Law in 2010, and president of Law School Student Council while actively participating in the student strike.
Advocate against the death penalty since 2007, member of the Puerto Rican Coalition against the Death Penalty, former Secretary of Greater Caribbean for Life, participant and moderator in several world congresses (2007, 2010, 2016), annual assemblies (2011, 2014, 2016), and steering committee meetings (2013) of the World Coalition against the Death Penalty and the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (2008, 2009, 2011). Advocate for the Separation of Church and State, part of the founding members of Humanistas Seculares de Puerto Rico 2011, former vice president, secretary and director of the legal committee until June 2018.
Feminist, former President of the Comisión de la Mujer (2016-2019), Puerto Rico Bar Association, member of Movimiento Amplio de Mujeres de PR, collaborator Proyecto Matria (2011).
President of Partido del Pueblo Trabajador (Working People’s Party) ran for Resident Commissioner for the 2016 campaign. An active member of Puerto Rico Bar Association, Pro Bono, Inc., National Lawyers Guild, ACLU of PR, Amnesty International of PR.
Since 2016 a group of lawyers including myself started to get involved in active legal representation and assistance of persons, especially young people detained, arrested or intervened during protests and the constitutional exercise of freedom of speech. This group of lawyers and Law students recently incorporated a non-profit organization called Brigada Legal Solidaria. Part of this group’s work has to do with legal representation of persons accused during May 1st, 2017 and 2018, June 11, 2017 protests and related. Direct participation in protests and manifestations as observers and legal representatives. Also, we help and provide support to family members of the detained. We are working in the gathering of testimonials, evidence and other information related to the May 1st, 2018 protests. We have an educational campaign on civil and constitutional rights, with particular attention to freedom of speech, and denouncing police actions and requesting the expulsion of the actual Commissioner of Security, Hector Pesquera a former FBI agent with a very bad reputation. We keep lists of people detained and make sure each and every person detained or intervened has effective legal representation. “No person without a lawyer” and “No person is left alone” is our motto. The BLS also publicly denounces repression and the limitations of our freedoms by the government and the Junta de Control Fiscal Federal.
Member of Comité de Amigos y Familiares de Nina Droz Franco. As a founding member of the committee, we support Nina and her family and actively denounce her confinement conditions and her case as the most recent political prisoner and the only one under the federal jurisdiction for the May 1st of 2017 cases.
Ricardo Olivero Lora is the Executive Director of FuerteFuerte, an NGO that conceptualizes, designs, and implements social justice campaigns as a resource for communities and organizations in Puerto Rico.
Ricardo graduated from Sacred Heart University in Puerto Rico, majoring in radio, film and television production. He is a co-founder of Radio Huelga, a student-run, student-founded and cooperative gestated radio station that was born during the student strike of the University of Puerto Rico during the year 2010, when he was attending Law School. He has worked as a researcher and writer for documentaries and is a casual columnist in electronic media.