A new report released during the Environmental Grantmakers Association’s Winter Briefing in San Juan, Puerto Rico, urges U.S. philanthropy to invest in Puerto Rico’s social movements as the best solution to the archipelago’s climate and humanitarian crisis. Many of the groups interviewed for the report were at the heart of last summer’s #RickyRenuncia protests, which mobilized more than half a million Puerto Ricans to force then-Governor Ricardo Roselló out of office due to rampant corruption.
“The report chronicles deep lessons in transformational change, from Puerto Rico’s social movements which are visionary and oppositional, centering sovereignty and self-governance,” said Chung-Wha Hong, executive director of Grassroots International, a foundation that co-authored the report. “For funders who are interested in supporting movements who are building a pathway to a decolonized, thriving and resilient Puerto Rico, this report will provide a helpful roadmap.”
“For funders who are interested in supporting movements who are building a pathway to a decolonized, thriving and resilient Puerto Rico, this report will provide a helpful roadmap.”
Chung-Wha Hong, Executive Director, Grassroots International
The report, Protesta Y Propuesta: Lessons From Just Transformation, Ecological Justice, and the Fight for Self-Determination in Puerto Rico, emerged from a Grassroots International delegation of donors and social movement organizers that traveled to Puerto Rico last year to learn how just recovery and just transformation are playing out on the archipelago. It was co-authored with the Movement Generation Justice & Ecology Project, an initiative that inspires and engages in transformative action towards the liberation and restoration of land, labor, and culture.
Protesta Y Propuesta centers the stories of over a dozen Puerto Rican social movements that have taken the lead in meeting the needs of the archipelago’s people and natural resources following Hurricane Maria, which made landfall in September 2017. Grassroots International works in solidarity with these groups and provides some of them with financial support as local partners.
“One striking example is that of Casa Pueblo, which built out the island’s first community-controlled microgrid,” shared Jovanna García Soto, Grassroots International’s Solidarity Program Officer for Latin America and a co-author of the report. “It is no longer an ‘energy oasis’ but has outfitted an additional 55 homes with solar energy, 89 full-size refrigerators in seven solar-powered homes, a barber shop, two hardware stores, an agricultural center, an elder home, the fire station, five mini-markets, a restaurant, a pizzeria, and two rooms of Bosque Escuela.”
Just transformation and just recovery are about redistribution of resources and power to frontline communities to build a visionary economy for life.
“But the point isn’t just solar. It’s about who produces, distributes, and controls energy. Even if FEMA had been able to get there the day after the hurricane, they wouldn’t have had the relationships, trust, or understanding of the community that Casa Pueblo does to decide who to prioritize for solar installation. The freedom and self-determination we support extends beyond energy to territorial and food sovereignty, and includes movements that are building a society rooted in grassroots feminisms, a solidarity economy, and ultimately a decolonized Puerto Rico. Just transformation and just recovery are about redistribution of resources and power down to frontline communities to build a visionary economy for life.”
The report also contains a summary of what these social movements are calling for, including:
- an end to the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability (PROMESA) Act, passed by the U.S. Congress in 2016;
- cancellation of the approximately $74 billion of illegitimate national debt; and
- an end to the Financial Oversight and Management Board (“la junta”), which implements austerity measures and privatization, without the consent of the people, in order to repay the illegitimate debt.
“As we work to support organizers around the U.S. in developing our collective capacity to harness ecological and political shocks and slides towards the systemic shifts we need, we have continued to prioritize learning from Puerto Rican social movement groups while acting in solidarity,” said Movement Generation Fellow Brooke Anderson, a co-author of the report.
Click here to read the report. For more information, or to interview the report’s co-authors or members of the Puerto Rican social movements mentioned in the report, contact Yasmin Hamidi at yasminhamidi [at] gmail.com.
Grassroots International connects people in the U.S. with global movements that defend land, territory, water, food, seeds, and the earth. Together we address the root causes of injustice and oppression, and build alternatives that nurture human rights, ecological justice, and liberation. We do this through grantmaking, social action, and philanthropic leadership. Learn more at our website and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for the latest news and analysis.
Movement Generation Justice & Ecology Project inspires and engages in transformative action towards the liberation and restoration of land, labor, and culture. We are rooted in vibrant social movements led by low-income communities and Black, Indigenous, and people of color communities committed to a just transition away from profit and pollution and towards healthy, resilient and life-affirming local economies. We are one of dozens of co-founders of the Climate Justice Alliance (CJA) and currently co-chair the steering committee. Learn more at our website and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest developments.