The South Bronx united on Thursday to support Bernie Sanders at New York rally. The surprise of the night came from former Calle 13’s vocalist, Residente, who delivered a speech detailing the reasons why he supports Bernie Sanders.
“Tonight, I’m not here to talk about economic issues, because I’m not an economist. I’m not here to talk about our right to free and quality education or free and accessible health care. I’m not here to talk about the commitment needed to save our environment from the pollution in order to save ourselves. I could speak of the racial injustice that people are suffering in this country and in the rest of the world, and of the need for comprehensive immigration reform. All of these are serious issues in America, but today I came here to speak briefly about the history of Puerto Rico and a little bit about the history of Latin America and why I’m here tonight in support of Bernie Sanders. I have traveled the world thanks to my music, and in traveling I have learned more about the world than I ever learned in college. My name is René, many also know me as Residente and I am from Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico is a colony of the United States. We are the oldest colony in the world. For years, we have been used as an experimental island. From the medical experiments on our people to the chemical experiments on our land. From 1941-2003 on the island of Vieques, the United States Navy undertook a series of experiments with different chemical and biological weapons while using the island as a bombing range. To this day, the land and people of Vieques have not fully recovered from this devastation. There’s a Puerto Rican, a political prisoner, who has been incarcerated for over 34 years, longer than Nelson Mandela. His name: Oscar López Rivera, and he deserves to be free, today. More than 200,000 Puerto Ricans have served in the U.S. military. In our schools, children are taught more about U.S. history than the history of their own country. That is a colonial education. Without giving you exact numbers, I can tell you the U.S. gets more out of Puerto Rico economically than Puerto Rico receives from the U.S. We are currently living an unprecedented economic crisis and have the highest rates of poverty and unemployment of any other place in the U.S., yet the U.S. does not even allow us to restructure our debt. And this is the best one: People in Puerto Rico cannot vote for the President of the United States. In other words, we are not allowed to choose the person who makes crucial decisions regarding our country.
I didn’t come here to complain, but rather put things in proper context. You may wonder, what I’m doing here? A person like me with all this information has come to the Bronx to support a candidate for the U.S. presidency. I will explain. I support Bernie Sanders because he has been the only candidate with logical proposals and has expressed support with my country’s debt relief. He did not come up to support us now, in the middle of an election cycle to win votes, but he spoke out from the moment the economic crisis began. I support Bernie Sanders because I think he is the most honest candidate there is. I support Bernie Sanders because he is the only candidate who furiously stands up and defends human rights and the rights of the LGBT community.
I support Bernie Sanders because he has spoken out against those Latin American dictatorships financed by the United States which left more than half a million people dead or disappeared. He’s been opposed to a Pinochet in Chile, Ríos Montt in Guatemala, Videla in Argentina, just to name a few. I support Bernie Sanders because someone like Hillary Clinton does not deserve my vote. The thought of Hillary Clinton, who has dared to praise the likes of Henry Kissinger, the author of the most despicable Latin American genocide and the architect of Latin American dictatorship, responsible for all of those who disappeared in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, is enough for me not to vote for her. I’m not with her. It will represent an insult to consider yourself Latin American and vote for her.
Not just an insult to oneself, but for the many victims that still suffer from this history. An insult to countless children who have lost their parents and grandparents. I support Bernie Sanders because I believe there are still good people like him in this country. And when Sanders wins the upcoming election, people will see the United States in a different light. It will no longer be a country that invades, that provokes wars, that quiets people. It will not be a country that tortures or believes in colonies instead. The United States will be a country that strives for unity, equality and peace. If Bernie Sanders were Puerto Rican , I’m certain who would fight with all his mind and all his heart as many Puerto Ricans have done, to bring freedom and self-determination to his country. I am here like all of you to support Bernie Sanders because we all support change in the world. Thank you.”
—René Pérez Joglar