With all the talk of impeachment, how can a country get rid of a corrupt leader, anyways?
Over 2019, nearly a dozen revolts blossomed around the world. As they continue, they continue to show the power regular people have. Grassroots International’s grantees, especially Colectiva Feminista en Construcción, planted seeds of struggle in Puerto Rico over years of tough work. Finally, in July 2019, these seeds had grown into #RickyRenuncia. Huge protests and strikes kicked out Governor Ricardo Rosselló after his text messages leaked: a People’s Impeachment. As we head into 2020, learn the lessons from their struggle straight from the voice of a leading activist, Shariana Ferrer-Núñez of Colectiva.
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You could feel it in the air. Something had shifted in terms of collective power. You saw people in the streets, in the very tourist site of Old San Juan, the streets near La Fortaleza, with a lot of graffiti, different demands that went even beyond Rosselló’s resignation. You can feel a sense of majority in this uprising. This movement has a very organic feel of it. People would just sum up to the work, to the process, to the resistance.
Laying the Groundwork
However, this wasn’t a spontaneous. This is a buildup, an accumulation of the years of work, of grassroots doing, of political resistance, of organization and other movements that
came before. In that sense, the work La Colectiva kind of laid a lot of the groundwork in terms of stating [a few things]. Gender-based violence is unacceptable. The debt can’t come before the lives of the people here in Puerto Rico. And it’s important to be consistent and also show direct action.
So for us one of the first protests that was called within the #RickyRenuncia movement was actually when we called for the governor’s return from his vacation in Europe. And in that calling him out, the [Telegram] chat was leaked. That was one of the starting points of this great uprising, that of course wasn’t coordinated by La Colectiva. But it was important to be consistent and to show up so that others can follow in example and do the work.
Debts to pay
There are a lot of debts to pay to the people in terms of housing, public education, health care, the imposition of austerity measures, the imposition of the fiscal control board. Those are some of the major goals that go beyond this moment of Ricardo Rosselló’s resignation. So in a sense we have to address how do we push forward by replicating the spirit of what was lived in this uprising. That collective power, that has been building through these couple of weeks, how to transform it into the power of institutions and how to build a government that is for the people instead of the private sector.
A People’s Impeachment
These couple of weeks have also given us a collective mindset that there’s no turning back. We’re aiming for a permanent revolution. When social movements go into to the end of their peak, we still need to build the next big moment. That work relies on people who are putting the bodies on the front lines. Solidarity looks like supporting the ones that stay, doing the calls, the organizing for the next big moment. It also means understanding we can create change where we’re at.