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A Look At "Independence" For Puerto Ricans Under U.S. Colonialism

This is what “independence” means to a 2016 colony, the last colony in the world, Puerto Rico.

On July 4, 1898, in the Central Presbyterian Church of Brooklyn, the Reverend J. F. Carson read from the Holy Bible, "And Joshua took the whole land, and the land rested from war." He sermonized that "the high, the supreme business of this Republic is to end the Spanish rule in America, and if to do that it is necessary to plant the stars and stripes on Cuba, Porto Rico, the Philippines or Spain itself, America will do it." That same night, in the Presbyterian Church of Fifth Avenue, the Reverend Robert MacKenzie prophesied, "God is calling a new power to the front. The race of which this nation is the crown . . . is now divinely thrust out to take its place as a world power." Senator Albert J. Beveridge also saw a divine plan. "God has not been preparing the English-speaking and Teutonic peoples for a thousand years for nothing" he declared. "He has made us adept in government so that we may administer government amongst savages and senile peoples."

On July 21, 1898, the US government issued a press release stating, "Porto Rico will be kept. . . . Once taken it will never be released. It will pass forever into the hands of the Unites States. . . . Its possession will go towards making up the heavy expense of the war to the United States. Our flag, once run up there, will float over the island permanently." On the floor of the US Senate, Republican Senator Joseph B. Foraker declaimed, "Porto Rico differs radically from any other people for whom we have legislated previously. . . . They have no experience which would qualify them for the great work of government with all the bureaus and departments needed by the people of Porto Rico."

Note: “Porto Rico” is not a misspelling by the author of this piece. The United States in legal documents and in speeches referring to the island spelled the name wrong for much of the first 50 years that they controlled it.

This is what “independence” means to a 2016 colony, the last colony in the world, Puerto Rico.

People may be aware of the recent news that has been highlighting the Puerto Rican economic crisis, 73 Billion US dollars of debt hanging over the head of the Puerto Rican people. That is over 20,000 US dollars per person living on the island.

Currently there is a bill that was signed by President of Obama called PROMESA that was supposed to help with the restructuring of the debt for the people of the island of Puerto Rico. Here are some highlights of the bill:

–No clear path to restructuring the debt, no clear bankruptcy or restructuring protocol or procedure is outlined.

–The installation of a Financial Control Board of the island that can overrule any financial decision made and voted on by the people or governmental bodies of Puerto Rico.

–This Financial Control Board is allowed to receive “gifts”, no description on what is meant by “gifts”, on the bill though it is obvious this creates the inherent conditions for bribery.

–The people of the Financial Control Board are to be selected by the US Senate, where Puerto Rico has no voting representation at all, and approved by the President. Not a single one of these people have to have any ties to the island.

–The minimum wage of the island will be reduced to $4.25 for workers under the age of 25 on the island, a place where Cost of Living is already drastically higher than most other places in the US.

This bill obviously exerts the colonial rule of the US over Puerto Rico in 2016. But it doesn’t stop there. Other things are contributing to the miserable human and social conditions of the island.

–Puerto Ricans pay the same amount for Medicaid as any other state or US territory but they only receive 50% of the Medicaid benefits that other states and territories receive. This coupled with the economic crisis has helped contribute to the closing of hospitals and clinics throughout the island creating a health crisis on the island that is already experiencing the Zika virus scare and the possibility of poisonous gasses being sprayed on the island to kill the Zika virus at the detriment to the health of the Puerto Rican people. That gas spray is being protested by the people of the island.

–Schools are being closed and privatized due to lack of funds. University of Puerto Rico has raised its tuition again making educational attainment ever more difficult for people already struggling to meet high tuition costs.

–Public Beaches are being sold and privatized to pay for the debt. Obama also announced the “Promise Zone” which favors US developers to build resorts, entertainment, and high end real estate on the eastern part of the island.

–The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) will no longer monitor water resources in Puerto Rico because the island’s government owes it $2 million

The slow death of Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rican people through an economic and colonial chokehold has gone mostly unnoticed and unchecked. The reason why it has gone mostly unnoticed is because most people don’t know how it got this bad or that it really is this bad. Until the debt crisis and PROMESA no one really knew anything about Puerto Rico outside maybe Jenifer Lopez and Marc Anthony. Many Puerto Ricans don’t even know the history of the island that led to these conditions. That is due to the incredible refusal of US media to cover things pertaining to the island and, until recently, a scarcity of educational resources detailing the progressive destruction and now, in my opinion, a guided gentrification of the island and slow murder of the Puerto Rican people. It would take too long for me to detail these things but if anyone is interested in taking a deeper dive read War Against All Puerto Ricans by Nelson Denis.

The similarities between the current state of Black America and the trap used to subjugate black communities through economics, gentrification and disruption of black communities, and the use of the TRAP are eerily familiar.

Don Pedro Albizu Campos once said “[US] cares more about the cage than the bird.” Our cage is physical, mental, and spiritual. Colonialism has infiltrated our very veins through the 118 years of US rule over Puerto Rico. Now as the conditions have worsened for the people on the island to a breaking point independence movements and solidarity movements have begun to take form. It will be a long and difficult road but what more could be worth fighting and dying for than Freedom? Vive Puerto Rico Libre! Jesse 'SobreViviente' Cosme

This is an excerpt from an article originally published on DreamDefenders.org.

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Kidnapped UPS Driver's Family Blames Florida Police For His Death

As an investigation kicks off involving several police officers and armed robbers, the family of Frank Ordoñez is demanding more than just answers about the father of two's tragic death.

On Thursday (Dec. 5), Ordoñez was killed when officers and two armed men exchanged gunfire in Broward County, Florida after the suspects robbed a jewelry store. Police were notified of what transpired at Regent Jewelers through a silent holdup alarm at 4:17 pm, Police Chief Edward J. Hudak Jr. told CNN.

The men identified by the Miami FBI as Lamar Alexander, 41, and Ronnie Jerome Hill, 41, left the store and hijacked Ordoñez's truck and fled at least 25 miles on the interstate. Police followed the truck as the chase was aired live on television. After coming to an intersection around 5:35 pm, the UPS truck stopped. The 27-year-old tried to escape but was killed in the gunfire the officers had with Hill and Alexander.

The FBI identifies the two deceased individuals responsible for yesterday's jewelry store robbery, carjacking/kidnapping and shootings as Lamar Alexander, 41, and Ronnie Jerome Hill, 41, both of Miami-Dade County. If anyone has information about these crimes, call 1-855-352-7233

— FBI Miami (@FBIMiamiFL) December 6, 2019

Bystander footage revealed 11 officers were involved in the shooting with some of them using bystander vehicles to shield themselves for a better defense. An unidentified bystander was also killed in the shooting. It's currently unknown if Ordoñez and the other victim were hit with bullets from police or the armed suspects.

https://twitter.com/kevinreinosoo/status/1202742863785840645

Ordoñez's family has shared their grief and confusion over what happened and questioned how the police reacted to the incident."For this to happen, I think, is just unnecessary," Joe Merino, his stepfather told NBC's Today show. "Other tactics should have been applied, and they weren't, so when I say the word devastated, it's an understatement."

Ordoñez's brother Roy said he "was just going to work to provide for his two little girls," by taking over someone else's shift. It was also his first time as a driver in his five-year employment with the company. Roy launched a GoFundMe to cover funeral costs as well as an education fund his brother originally had with UPS. "Please don't let my brother's death be for nothing," he said. "Police need to be held accountable." So far, the GoFundMe has raised over $50,000–well ahead of the family's request of $20,000.

"It's a nightmare. It's a bad dream that I hope to wake up from and see him here." Joe Merino the stepfather of UPS driver Frank Ordonez pic.twitter.com/TXTbfK4Lx0

— WSVN 7 News (@wsvn) December 6, 2019

His sister Genny Merino blamed the police for their brother's death."Today I lost my brother, because of the negligence and stupidity of the police," Merino posted on Twitter with a video memorial. "Instead of negotiating with a hostage situation they just shot everyone. (Including my brother) please retweet this so everyone can be aware of how stupid these cops are."

Today I lost my brother, because of the fucking negligence and stupidity of the police. Instead of negotiating with a hostage situation they just shot everyone. (Including my brother) please retweet this so everyone can be aware how stupid these cops are. pic.twitter.com/DyFN2ZUoAX

— genny♡ (@geneviemerino) December 6, 2019

The FBI, as well as The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, are both investigating the incident.

Ordoñez's family aren't the only ones questioning the actions of the police. Supporters of the GoFundMe called out the police as well. "Que descanses en paz Hermano.... Condolencias para ti y tus seres queridos. Que mal ejemplo estas chotas de la ley de Estados Unidos valen pa puro SORPETES!!," one supporter said which translates roughly to: "May your brother rest in peace. Condolences to you and your loved ones. The law enforcement in the United States sets a bad example, purely surprised!"

Ordoñez's employer UPS was also met with criticism for praising the efforts of the law enforcement for the incident. "We are deeply saddened to learn a UPS service provider was a victim of this senseless act of violence," they said in a statement on Twitter. "We extend our condolences to the family and friends of our employees and the other innocent victims involved in this incident. We appreciate law enforcement’s service and will cooperate with the authorities as they continue the investigation."

https://twitter.com/UPS/status/1202778926155751426

See the reactions below.

Not sure there's a better illustration for how little your boss cares about you than UPS thanking the cops for shooting their driver to death

— tinybaby (@tinybaby) December 6, 2019

https://twitter.com/freedaaron/status/1202986421339996160

This is a weird way to spell “We are deeply saddened to learn Frank Ordonez, a UPS employee, was a victim of negligent police officers who murdered him and another innocent bystander today. We will ensure his family, especially his two young daughters, are financially cared for.” https://t.co/2kkRJQuB1Y

— Grace (@graceporta) December 6, 2019

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