by Francisco G. Gómez
I couldn’t think of a better way to begin to share my experiences in Puerto Rico after the catastrophe that hurricane María brought upon the island, than to start with the thoughts of a young Puertorican woman who is a true eco-warrior and part of the independence movement on the island, Jariksa Valle Feliciano, affectionately called Kari.
In her writing she incapsulates a sentiment that struck me almost immediately when I began to talk and interact with people that were victims of Maria’s wrath. I say wrath because these feelings transcended the obvious physical destruction we saw before us, but more so, an apparent internal trauma after the storm, that was augmented by centuries of government ineptitude, colonization by the United States and the incompetence of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
Below Kari’s piece in Spanish, I have translated the piece to English.
“ La cicatriz que dejó María abarca tantas cosas
La cicatriz que dejó María abarca tantas cosas.
No sólo por su destrucción natural o material también por lo social, psicológica, política, moral entre un tanto más, trás la historia.
Un gobierno inservible que no responde y corresponde a las necesidades de un pueblo, la cual tristemente e ironicamente el pueblo mismo así lo quiso. Nos siguen pisoteando e insultando sin medidas.
Hay muchas cosas pasando tras bastidores de las que no se habla, cómo el aumento de suicidios y
problemas emocionales o mentales entre nuestros ciudadanos.
Reconstruirnos, apoyarnos, individual y personalmente, es tan importante como reconstruir lo colectivo.
Hay tanto por aprender, hacer y cambiar.
Ante toda la catarsis que tiene una colonia capitalista, y me atrevo a escribir con rasgos tercermundistas.
Dependiendo de gobiernos poco funcionales.
Siento que me preocupa el futuro político y social en general de Borikén.
Partes se unifican y partes se separan. Reconociendo mi lugar y prioridades entre tanto de lo que esta pasando.
Siendo empática y compasiva, entre tanto abatimiento y dolor.
Dandome cuenta que primero nos debemos descolonizar desde el nacimiento, cultivar un sustento individual para luego unirlo y extenderlo. Por que veo no se puede perder tiempo tratando de convencer a los demás que salgan de su conformismo condicionado.
Agraciadamente dando ejemplo es una forma simple de hacer cambios, pero aveces parece no ser suficiente.
Duele ver la injusticia y la desconsideración, pero todos tenemos voz y derecho para luchar y representar un pueblo indignado.
Me motiva ver los movimientos agroecológicos y mucha gente haciendo lo posible de salir adelante y utilizar los recursos que nos brinda Borikén para vivir en armonía.
Pero no podemos tapar el cielo con una mano cuando se trata de vivir en un estatus gubernamental sin un futuro prometedor o emprendedor a la isla y su gente.
¿Cuando nos levantaremos colectivamente de esta situación con precedentes?… No lo sé.
Ya ha pasado mucho tiempo como corderos.
Viendo mas allá de la superficialidad de el famoso slogan “ Puerto Rico se levanta ”.”
“ The scar that María left encompasses so many things
The scar that María left encompasses so many things.
Not only because of the natural or material destruction, but also because of the social, psychological, moral and so much more, our history.
A useless government that doesn’t respond and has no concern for the necessities of the people; sadly and ironically the people wanted it like that. They keep on stepping and insulting us without measure.
There are many things happening behind the scenes that aren’t spoken of, like the increase in suicides, emotional or mental problems in our citizens.
Reconstruct, support ourselves, individually and personally is as important as reconstructing the collective.
There is so much to learn, do and change.
Before all the catharsis that a capitalist colony has, I dare write with third world characteristics.
Depending on governments with little functionality. I feel preoccupied with the political and social future of Borikén (Puerto Rico).
Parts unite and parts separate. Understanding my place and priorities in all that is happening. Being empathetic and compassionate, within so much dejection and pain.
Understanding that first we must decolonize ourselves from birth, cultivate an individual sustenance to
later unify and extend it. From what I can see, time can’t be wasted trying to convince others to leave their conditioned conformism. Thankfully, being an example is a simple way of making changes, but sometimes it doesn’t appear to be enough.
It hurts to see the injustice and disregard, but all of us have voice and the right to fight and represent our outraged people.
I am motivated by the agro-ecological movements, and many people doing what is possible to get ahead and utilize the resources that Borikén offers, in order to live in harmony.
You can’t bury your head in the sand when you try to live in a governmental status without a promising and enterprising future for its island and its people.
When shall we arise collectively from this situation that we’ve seen before?…I don’t know.
Too much time has passed, with us like lambs.
Looking past the superficiality of the famous slogan “ Puerto Rico will Rise”.”
For many on the island, the lack of clean water, food, medical care, electricity and a whole host of other things, many times taken for granted, was/is a horrible reality. And yet, what’s worse than all that is the toll that all that material loss and the reasons behind it have taken upon the psyche of Puerto Rico’s people. The magnitude of mental trauma experienced by those most affected is yet to be discerned.
Make no mistake, the air is not filled with only doom and gloom. María also brought with her a new vibrant way of Puertoricans looking at their surroundings, the way they do things now, and the way they will do things in the future! The resurgence of an augmented nationalistic pride that manifests itself through art, music, dance, helping each other and an increase in growing sustainable organic healthy food has taken over. Organic farms, solar panels and wind turbines are popping up everywhere – The New Jíbaro Movement is in full swing; they are a bunch of highly educated and knowledgeable young people opting for a way out of the island Matrix by getting back to the land, sustainable living and ending their subservience to U.S. colonialism on the island. These are the remarkable people from Plenitud Eco-iniciativas, Casa Pueblo, Departamento de la Comida, PR Resiliency Fund, Copi, Tainasoy Apiaries, Finca Mi Casa – they are just too numerous to list here.
To all the individual people and organizations, here and abroad, who donated money, collected material goods or took it upon themselves to personally go to the island and assist in relief efforts, kudos and a huge thanks. You answered the call when the island most needed it! Big shout out to “Juntos Together,” a grassroots coalition umbrella comprised of a number of community organizations from the religious sectors, community workers, civil servants, non profit orgs. and a host of other individuals from Central New Jersey – Their work and generosity is an inspiration to all that do relief assistance here and abroad!
Stay tuned for in depth details…