Editor’s Note: The Center for Popular Democracy asked Latino Rebels to see if LR could publish the following open letter. We agreed to do so because we believe that we cannot silence voices, and we are deeply committed to cover the issue of Puerto Rico as best as we can. Here is the full letter:
Dear Governor Ricardo Rosselló,
We, the undersigned organizations, stand in solidarity with the Puerto Rican people and organizations that came together on May 1, 2018 to march against inhumane austerity measures that continue to drive a massive exodus of families in search of a better life. We stand with the millions of Puerto Ricans who remain on the island and fight every day to sustain their families and improve their collective quality of life. We write today to condemn the inhumane and violent police actions of the government of Ricardo Rosselló.
On May 1, 2018, thousands of Puerto Rican people, including elderly adults and children, who were exercising their First Amendment right to protest were met with state violence through the use of tear gas and violence at the hands of the police. Images captured at the event, corroborated by first-hand accounts, show crowds of people fighting to catch their breath as they ran away from police in riot gear. This type of scene has no place in a democratic society. The right to assemble and express frustration at the government is essential to the practice of democracy. We are deeply disturbed by Governor Roselló’s defense of the police brutality and demand that the local government take the appropriate actions to prosecute those who gave and executed the orders for these actions to take place.
On May 1, 2018, thousands of Puerto Ricans came out to protest the measures that the governor and the fiscal control board have put forward over the last two years. These measures adversely affect working class Puerto Ricans, and include:
- Privatizing of the public school system and the power company
- Doubling the tuition costs in Puerto Rico’s public university
- Closing over 300 schools
- Slashing labor rights
- Raising taxes
- Cutting pensions
This dire situation is forcing families to flee the island en masse. The Center for Puerto Rican Studies estimates that Puerto Rico could lose 14% of its population, 470,000 people, by 2019.
On May Day, the people of Puerto Rico came out with clear demands for their government. Today we stand with them and echo their demands in solidarity, and we commit to advocate for them in the United States.
We further demand immediate accountability for the May Day violence. Our demands are as follows:
- Stop austerity: The Government of Puerto Rico should stop all austerity measures and invest in the working people of Puerto Rico by strengthening labor rights, raising the minimum wage, and promoting other policies that allow families in the island to live with dignity. Living with dignity includes rebuilding Puerto Rico’s power grid with 100% clean and renewable energy and keeping the power grid and power generation in public hands under community control, so as to mitigate the climate crisis and adapt for future extreme weather.
- Cancel the debt: The Government of Puerto Rico should not make, and the U.S. government should stop promoting, any more debt payments to billionaire bondholders. Instead, all government efforts should focus on securing payments to pension holders. The Puerto Rican government should also prosecute any individual that has profited from the debt crisis.
- Prosecute: The Government of Puerto Rico should conduct a full, transparent and impartial investigation into the police violence during the May Day actions and prosecute every police officer and civil servant who instructed and executed these acts of violence against the Puerto Rican people. We also encourage human right organizations to conduct their own independent investigations and oversight to guarantee that this process is done with full transparency.
We, the undersigned organizations, stand in solidarity with the Puerto Rican people and their demands, condemn the actions of the Puerto Rican government, and demand that the local government take the appropriate actions to prosecute those who instructed and executed these actions.
Center for Popular Democracy
Make the Road NY
United We Dream
United for a New Economy
Maryland Communities United
Black Voters Matter Fund
CT PR Agenda
Progressive Caucus Action Fund
The Bully Project
Make the Road PA
Make the Road CT
215 People Alliance
Alliance for Puerto Rico-Massachusetts
Make the Road NJ
Chicago Boricua Resistance!
OLÉ in Albuquerque, NM
Delaware Alliance for Community Advancement
Mi Familia Vota
Action Center for Race and the Economy
Refund America Proyect
Massachusets Jobs with Justice
New Haven Association of Legal Services Attorneys
United Action CT
Alliance for Quality Education
National Economic and Social Rights Initiative
Harry Potter Alliance
Youth Progressive Action Catalyst
Pennsylvania Student Power Network
Movement Voter Project
Student Power Networks
About Face: Veterans Against the War
Americas for Conservation
Florida Immigrant Rights Coalition- FLIC
Services, Immigrant Rights, and Education Network (SIREN)
Arkansas United Community Coalition
Make the Road NV
American Family Voices
Climate Hawks Vote
The Shalom Center
cation Consortium (NAKASEC)
Massachusetts Education Justice Alliance
Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts
Institute for Policy Studies, New Internationalism Project
Korean Resource Center (KRC)
Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste (PCUN)
Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA)
Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLAN)