On May 1st 2017 something beautiful happened in PR. The people, tired of the lies and corruption of the politicians decided to go out and protest. At that time I was already living in FL, but my friends, my family were still on the island. Seeing so many people out protesting was beautiful and to show my support and solidarity I made a sketch called Suficiente (Enough). This sketch was the first of my works to go viral. Taking me by surprise.
Pepito is a local newspaper cartoon about a little kid that has no problem calling out the politician’s bullshit and sometimes getting into trouble. The cartoon was canceled by the newspaper on behalf of politicians that felt offended by one of the strips. Politicians controlling one of our mayor newspapers is nothing new, but never had it been more obvious the bias and control the politicians have. One of my favorite drawings came during this period, inspired by a Batman comic cover.
A few months later hurricane Maria hit the island. Completely devastating the outdated power grid and leaving the island dark for months. During those days then puertorricans outside the island, the diaspora, tried to help as best we could. We sent help, we spread the word and found charities and others to help the island with donations of water, food, batteries and clothing. It was a very difficult period since there was little communication with people in the island.
Once power began to be restored and we started to see the news and post from our friends and family, we realized how bad it was, and it was way worse than any of us could have imagined.
Fast forward to May first 2018. A year after the national strike and still recovering from Maria the people took to the streets again. Not only did they not see much improvement since last time, but because of the hurricane – with the help of a very good reporter – a lot of the corruption was starting to be exposed. Hasta La Muerte is the name of the next drawing I did in solidarity.
The relationship between the USA and PR has been a strenuous one. PR has been a colony of the US since it invaded the island in 1898 right after the Spanish-American war. The US is like an absent foster parent that only cares about the money and benefits it gets from being a foster parent.
Stomped by the master’s foot is an expression of how the USA treats the island and it’s residents. And this was made clear in the current administration.
Let’s fast forward to the summer of 2019. Oh man! What a time to be alive! In the summer of 2019 1 million puertorricans took to the streets again and this time they were furious. At this point it had been learned that a substantial amount of supplies had been left to rot and go to waste. Yes, the donations that were sent by charities and the diaspora were left to rot and expire in trailers. Add to this that it also came to light how the government tried to hide the actual number of deaths as a consequence of the hurricane. Some of them could have been prevented if that water that went to waste and that food that was stored to rot would have been handed out to the people in need.
On top of all that the C.P.I. (Centro De Periodismo Investigativo) published a chat group conversation that included the governor of PR at the time, Ricardo Rossello, other government officials and private contractors. This chat contained discussions of sensitive government material and it also showed how these officials (including the governor) made fun of the pain and suffering of puertorricans. 889 pages of insults, memes and name calling from the elected officials and their friends. There’s a lot to digest in those sentences, take your time.
Alright, now that you’re back. After all came to light the governor made a public apology for his expressions in the chat, but at this point it was too late, at this point his apologies meant shit. Tus Disculpas Valen Mierda (your apologies mean shit) reflect how the words mean nothing when no action is taken and there’s blood in the hands of these politicians.
During the next few days puertorricans took to the streets every day, in shifts. Every morning, day and night there were people protesting and asking for the resignation of the governor, who did not want to leave. The people had enough, the people had no fear.
From outside the island it was a beautiful thing to see, finally! Puertorricans together! They protested with art, music, dancing, and scuba diving! you name it, there was a form of protest. Puertorricans in the streets peacefully fighting for what’s right and just.
#rickyrenuncia was trending for days at this point. The people wanted the governor’s head on a plate, specially the women. After he referred to women as whores they had enough.
Weather we are in the USA, Europe or the little island in the Caribbean we are puertorricans and the world had their eyes set on the island.
One of the many ways the protested was a bike ride with over 10k riders! And if that is not impressive enough, these riders are from different groups and neighborhoods that sometimes are at odds with each other. But not this time, this time they rode together as one.
Finally, after 15 days of protest the governor resigned to his position. On July 25th of the year 2019, Puerto Rico woke up to a new reality, it was reborn. Even here in the states you could feel that new energy. The people spoke, the people were heard, their fury was felt, but the fight was not over.
The fight is not over. The government has tried as best they can to manipulate the masses, but only a few still believe in them.
The island has a new governor, one that was part of the problem back then. She was secretary of justice and was in charge of investigating what happened with the supplies and donations, and she didn’t.
2020 started pretty rough for the island. After being hit by a series of earthquakes and aftershocks, one of which was a 6.4. Thousands of people were left on the streets without a home or shelter. Sick people in the streets fearing the hospitals wouldn’t be able to take more shaking.
The Maria experience thought the island a valuable lesson. Not to expect help from the government, it was clear at this point they did not care. So the people did what they could to help. The south side of the island took most of the damage from these quakes, so the rest of the island drove south with supplies and help for their brothers and sisters in need. The government did not like that one bit. One of the more “charismatic” politicians thought it was a good idea to call the people that were helping “brutos” (stupid/dumb).
Just a few hours later a storage facility with supplies that were donated after Maria (Yes, more) was discovered. Not only that, it has come to light there are more storage facilities like this one. So when the island needed help, when the people were living in the streets the government again hid supplies, much needed supplies.
The people are tired, the people are angry, the people are ready.