One year after Puerto Ricans ousted their governor in mass protests, the long-standing structures of political and economic oppression remain in place on the island. But the uprising proved the power of collective action — and Puerto Ricans have become more resolved to build democracy from below and challenge their colonial status.
Fernando Tormos-Aponte is an assistant professor of public policy and political science at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, a Kendall Fellow at the Union of Concerned Scientists, and a visiting scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Department of Political Science. He is from San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico’s corrupt governor is set to resign today at 5 PM. It’s a stunning win for the island’s leftists, who have struggled for years against oppression and austerity.
While ordinary Puerto Ricans were struggling to recover from Hurricane María, Governor Ricardo Rosselló was conspiring to hide the extent of the devastation and joking about killing political rivals in a Telegram chat. Now, those messages are all public — and the Puerto Rican people are ready for an alternative.
Puerto Rico’s left is rebuilding in the wake of two disasters: Hurricane María and a neoliberal onslaught.
The aftermath of Hurricane María has laid bare the consequences of Puerto Rico’s colonial condition.