On September 22, Judge Sonia Sotomayor, singer Prince Royce and author Junot Díaz received “Hispanic Heritage Awards” in Washington, DC. In attendance were Frankie Negrón, actor JW Cortés, HUD Secretary Julián Castro, and numerous other “celebrities.”
Also on September 22, Lin-Manuel Miranda and painter Antonio Martorell received “Ceiba Awards” from the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture.
It reminded me of Uncle Sam bestowing Christmas gifts, to children under a tree.
There was nothing wrong with the ceremonies. They were tasteful and dignified.
But the awards were given on precisely the same night, that Puerto Rico was swallowed by an island-wide blackout.
Highway in San Juan, PR on the evening of Sept. 22, 2016
“The entire island is without power,” said Angel Crespo, director of Puerto Rico’s fire department.
Water service shut down, highways jammed, train service was canceled, and 15 more fires ignited across Puerto Rico, as a result of malfunctioning electric generators.
And yesterday…on September 23…many people throughout Puerto Rico were still suffering from the electrical blackout, which had started two days earlier.
EL GRITO DE LARES & FILIBERTO OJEDA RIOS
September 23 has an additional meaning for Puerto Ricans. It is the anniversary of El Grito de Lares, when nearly 1,000 men – many of them slaves – revolted against the Spanish on Sept. 23, 1868.
It is also the anniversary of the death of Filiberto Ojeda Ríos, who was shot – and forced to bleed to death – by the FBI on Sept. 23, 2005.
This year, with a Financial Control Board on its way and Puerto Ricans left without electricity on Sept. 21-23, a number of conspiracy theories began to circulate throughout the island. These included:
Conspiracy theories are difficult to prove, but two things do appear certain:
#1: This blackout will help the US bondholders to insist on “privatizing” PREPA. They will claim that blackouts – and not their own financial greed – are a key motivating factor for turning PREPA into a Public Private Partnership (aka “P3”). Of course, this “P3” will be managed from Wall Street: not for the safety and well-being of Puerto Rico…but for dividends, stock splits and Christmas bonuses.
#2: The celebrities receiving these honors & awards in the US, should devote a little time to the island.
In the 1950s, people like Harry Belafonte, Sidney Poitier, Sammy Davis, Jr., Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee and Dick Gregory made a real commitment to the civil rights movement. They marched with Martin Luther King, Jr.
Then they got other celebrities involved: such as Marlon Brando, Charlton Heston, Eartha Kitt, Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman, and many others.
They brought attention to the plight of African-Americans south of the Mason-Dixon line.
They did not calculate the career costs of marching and speaking out. They simply did the right thing.
THE DARK AGE OF PUERTO RICO
There are 15 regional blackouts per day in Puerto Rico…over 5,000 of them just last year, in 2015.
The island is literally being thrown into the Dark Age…and it needs a few key individuals, to shed some light before it is too late.
Sotomayor is correct, but her results need to match her speeches.
This year, her Supreme Court handed down two decisions (Franklin California and Sanchez Valle) which declared Puerto Rico to be nothing more than a “territorial possession”of the United States…a colony. Evidently, Sonia failed to persuade her colleagues to the contrary…and now we have a Financial Control Board.
Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote opinion editorials supporting the PROMESA bill, and the imposition of a Financial Control Board over Puerto Rico.
We need something better than this.
If Puerto Rico is to emerge from its current darkness, people need to think clearly and carefully.
And then they must act…
Just like the African-American community did, during the civil rights marches of the 1950s.
Here’s a thought:
How about a MARCH FROM ORLANDO TO JACKSONVILLE…TO DEMAND THE END OF THE JONES ACT?
For a history of the War Against All Puerto Ricans, read the book…
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