Manifesto of Emergency and Hope
June 2, 2018
We are at a crossroads. Puerto Rico is suffering an unprecedented political, economic, environmental, and social emergency. Every day, there are more people who feel the urge to come together, join efforts, and take coordinated action to change the course of our collective lives. The undersigning organizations are calling upon those who share the frustration, pain, and anguish caused by the current course of our nation; those who, full of hope, have lovingly undertaken the responsibility of protecting our water, land, air, neighborhoods, communities, schools, homes, and institutions; those who yearn to work for the common good, meeting along the path towards creating a more solidary, just, and democratic nation we can inhabit in harmony with nature. We call upon all the people who, acknowledging the crisis, have placed their bets on hope.
Before the first hurricane gusts were felt, the people in this archipelago were already dragging a decade of economic depression and austerity, feeling our hands were tied before the shameless looting and decimation of the key institutions that guaranteed our wellbeing. The gigantic crisis we are facing is not Hurricane Maria’s doing, but the result of decades of erroneous public policies and the acts of corrupt politicians who, instead of using the powers delegated upon them to protect the public’s wellbeing, have opted to line their pockets —all the while benefitting their friends and other major financial interests. This history has been characterized by plunder, impunity, and the privatization, abandonment, and mismanagement of the country's public assets and essential services.
In the end, these erroneous policies, corrupt individuals, and overgrown power structures have left us with:
- a health system that is at the mercy of a small group of private insurers who offer increasingly fewer and poorer services, all while strangling doctors, patients, and caretakers;
- a deteriorated and abandoned electricity grid, water supply, and road infrastructure;
- a public education system that is designed to fail, and which they now want to privatize by closing hundreds of schools, firing thousands of teachers, and transferring public funds to a handful of private corporations;
- a public university that has been marred, trapped, and limited by political partisanship and austerity measures;
- a diminished agriculture industry governed by practices that threaten the soil, water and air, as well as the overall health of agricultural workers and consumers;
- a society that is incapable of protecting their elders from abandonment, women and LGBTTIQ community members from gender violence, and children from abuse; unable to assist the thousands of people that have no roof, no food, no income, and no hope;
- a society where the land, the water, the air, and even the sun are at the mercy of questionable private interests.
In addition to that, they also want to impose further austerity measures upon us, in the interest of an unpayable and unsustainable debt — which has yet to be audited— even though all signs point to it being illegitimate under international law. The government of the United States has appointed a Fiscal “Oversight” Board with enormous powers, obscene salaries, and plagued by conflicts of interest,that does not protect or respond to our public interests. While the wealth we produce is being diverted into the pockets of public officials who earn salaries that have no equal anywhere else in the world —as well as the pockets of giant multinationals, Wall Street banks, and vulture funds, — the number of poor and unemployed people keeps growing. And just like our wealth is exported, hundreds of thousands of residents have been forced to leave the country as well.
The ideas of the current government and the Fiscal Control Board are not new.We already know that:
- They want to impose more of the same measures that have failed here and in every other country where they have been implemented.
- The reckless privatization of our resources is not the answer. Decades of privatization and unlimited free passes to the private sector have only left us with less job security, lower income, fewer protections, and fewer rights.
- The dismantling of public institutions has eliminated the few protections we had, and it disavows the urgency to eradicate inequality in our nation.
- Selling the remaining public institutions and natural resources will make us more vulnerable and leave us totally in the dark as to how the State is using the taxes we pay.
- If we fail to take care of our environment, the environment will not be able to take care of us.
This nefarious path has bequeathed us a society where inequality, contention, and marginalization have replaced solidarity, justice, and democracy. Hurricanes Irma and Maria intensified our vulnerability to corruption and rampant impunity, but they also opened way for another path that could change our present and future. In the midst of this debacle, we rediscovered that we can save each other. In the depths of the abyss, we have returned to the path of solidarity.
FROM THIS DAY FORWARD
What do we do in light of this scenario?
We the undersigners have assumed our responsibility to our people, communities, institutions, challenges, and aspirations. We assure you that a new nation is possible, essential, and urgent. The people and organizations undersigning this manifesto are committed to fight for a Puerto Rico built on social justice and solidarity. We rise as a people, not to rebuild the unequitable nation we had before Hurricane Maria, but to build a truly worthy Puerto Rico where we all belong.
In order to build the nation we aspire to be, we commit to work towards the following living standards:
- Respect and assurance of human and civil rights;
- Equity for women that allows their full human development and the construction of social and family relationships of peace and respect;
- Guaranteed equal essential services for all;
- A just and ecologically sustainable economic model
- that protects natural resources for this and future generations;
- that rejects the accumulation of wealth by a few at the expense of the impoverishment of the majority and the exploitation of nature;
- that promotes human development and protects its workers with fair wages, fair and safe working conditions, and a decent retirement;
- that fosters, supports, and protects local economic activity over foreign interests;
- that guarantees the right to a dignified life with secure housing and healthy nutrition, and promotes health and education;
- Clean energy based on renewable resources and administrated by the community, in order to gain energetic autonomy;
- The development of sustainable infrastructure, focused on climate justice and spatial justice;
- Integrated and sustainable solid waste management, governed by the Basura Cero principles; Agroecology as a model of action and education:
- that promotes community participation;
- that protects free and responsible access to soil, water, and land to attain food sovereignty;
- A universal health system based on general welfare and justice for all (including the people requiring services, health care professionals, and caregivers), that guarantees personal access to health services and oversees public health and all social aspects affecting health;
- Universal access to secure, sustainable, and dignified shelter;
- Universal and free access to primary, secondary, and higher education, which is considered a right and a public benefit;
- Universal access to recreation and leisure;
- Decolonization in all its manifestations: political, economic, cultural, social, and ideological.
Junte Gente acknowledges and embraces the people who are working to fulfill community visions that are in line with what we have outlined here. Many people, organizations, collectives, fronts, coalitions, and institutions have spent decades discussing, dreaming, organizing, and acting to build the country we want. We have the desire, the resources, the ideas, the will. We need coordinated action.
But the disaster capitalist agenda is working against us. If we do not stop the plans of the government, the Board, the bondholders, the vultures, and the ultra-rich puertopians,they will sell and hoard everything within their reach, and we will lose the necessary foundations to have the country we want. This is why, in the face of this emergency, we are calling for hope. We are encouraging all to join efforts and resist, so that we can transform our nation. The time is now.
Starting on June 2, 2018, we will be coming together in a permanent assembly to talk about the main issues within a comprehensive vision for our country. Our goal is to join forces now to build the society and nation we deserve. Let’s get together!
- Agua, Sol y Sereno
- Alianza de Salud para el Pueblo
- Amnistía Internacional-Puerto Rico
- Asociación de Profesores del Recinto Universitario de Mayagüez (APRUM)
- Asociación Puertorriqueña de Profesores Universitarios (APPU)
- Brigada de Todxs
- Casa Tomada
- Comité Ñín Negrón
- Cooperativa Agroecológica Montessori (CoopAM)
- Cucina 135
- Instituto Universitario para el Desarrollo de las Comunidades, Universidad de Puerto Rico, Recinto de Mayagüez
- Latte que Latte
- Movimiento Amplio de Mujeres de Puerto Rico (MAMPR)
- Organización Boricuá de Agricultura Ecológica
- Partido del Pueblo Trabajadora
- Plan Nacional para el Puerto Rico que Queremos
- Profesorxs Autoconvocadxs en Resistencia Solidaria (PAReS)
- Proyecto de Apoyo Mutuo Mariana
- SOMOS DIGN@S
David Lizardi Sierra Denise Perez, San Juan, PR; Epifanio Figueroa, Mayaguez, PR; Jessica Seiglie, Arecibo, PR; Jorge L. Colón, San Juan, PR; Leonor Velázquez; Luis José Torres Asencio; Mercedes Padilla, Utuado, PR; Radames Morales, Caguas, PR; Roberto Morales, Corozal, PR; Roberto Reyes-Colo, Bayamón, PR; Sandra Laureano Cartagena, San Juan, PR; Teresita Santiago, San Juan, PR; Victor R. Gonzalez, San Juan, PR; Vionex Marti, Cayey, PR.