Monday in San Juan, a delegation environmental and economic justice groups arrived to promote the Our Power Puerto Rico campaign and join efforts for a just recovery that includes a serious assessment of the Jones Act.
The group was led by Climate Justice Alliance (CJA), Greenpeace USA, Organización Boricuá (Puerto Rico). It arrived in San Juan on the historic Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise and soon held a press conference live-streamed via Facebook.
“We demand our voices to be heard, we demand a #JustRecovery for #PuertoRico and a Puerto Rico rebuilt by Puerto Ricans and made for Puerto Ricans,” the Our Power Campaign Facebook post said.
Participants in the press conference held at Club Náutico de San Juan included Angela Adrar from Climate Justice Alliance, Kiya Vega-Hutchens from UPROSE, Jesús Vázquez from Organización Boricuá, Camille Collazo from Visit Rico Agroturismo, Tara Rodríguez from Fondo Resiliencia, Hannah Strange from Greenpeace USA, José Bravo from Just Transition Alliance and José “Lole” Rodríguez Báez from Federación de Trabajadores de Puerto Rico, among others.
According to the group, “a second vessel will arrive in Puerto Rico in the coming days with sustainable supplies collected across the United States, including solar panels, water filters, agricultural tools and bicycles. The cargo could not come on board the Arctic Sunrise because the Jones Act does not allow for foreign flagged vessels to transport supplies between U.S. ports.”
“This effort was born with the objective not only of collecting aid and sustainable materials but also to support Puerto Ricans so they can take charge of their own recovery with long-term benefits. Without the participation of the people, equity or economic or economic justice will not be achieved and that is the need that we want to amplify at the level of the United States and on the island,” Adrar said.
The brigade will meet with agroecologists and members of the labor movement in Puerto Rico to assess the impact of the Jones Act in the recovery efforts led by local communities. Furthermore, they will assess the needs of farmers that work for a just recovery and a just transition towards a sustainable future for Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane María.
The brigade of activists in favor of climate justice joined the crew of Greenpeace’s Arctic Sunrise in Miami to come to San Juan. This ship will then continue with in its route to Antarctica for its next mission with the environmental organization. However, the campaign will send another two brigades and supplies to Puerto Rico using other means in the next six months.
“Greenpeace is proud to stand by the Climate Justice Alliance and contribute to just recovery efforts to make communities more resilient to climate change,” Strange said. “The most recent season of superstorms has made clear that the impacts of climate change are real, affecting communities from Texas to Puerto Rico, and around the globe. Climate change makes hurricanes like Maria even more powerful and destructive. We cannot let climate deniers and disaster capitalism deprive our communities from their right to a just recovery.”
Later in the day, the group live-streamed from a community farm on the island.
“Due to the Jones Act, we in Puerto Rico remain very vulnerable not only to climate change, but also to our agri-food system, since the United States regulates what enters and leaves from our archipelago,” Vázquez said. “That is why the Boricuá Organization is given a great deal of effort to work to produce food from the people and for the people using agroecology that promotes sustainable practices, resilient and also allows us to organize and work to achieve food sovereignty.”
The group defines “a just recovery” as “a visionary frame promoted by labor and environmental justice groups for a just transition that guarantees regenerative economies that can create jobs, protect the environment and create resilient communities.”